STEP TEN, PART 1
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.
After beginning to make amends and committing to finish taking step
nine to the best of my ability without delay or procrastination, I cross
over to the recovery stage, and the step nine promises begin to
manifest in my life.
The Big Book says the following about the promises:
"Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being
fulfilled among us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will
always materialize if we work for them." page 84.
Notice it says WORK and not WORKED.
Being in the recovery stage is a new beginning not an ending. The steps are spiritual principles that we have to incorporate into our life on a daily basis. By working steps 1-9 we cleaned up the
wreckage of the past. We learned how to use the steps to deal with
life's problems, and now we have to continue cleaning on a daily basis
in order to progress, grow and develop. There is no resting on our laurels. This is a new way of life that we have to live daily.
Step Ten says:
"Continued to take personal inventory and when were wrong promptly
The key words here are CONTINUED and PROMPTLY. We continue to take an
on the spot inventory when needed and act promptly to correct our
mistakes. The Big Book says that the thought of working for the promises to
materialize brings us to step ten.
"This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to
take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as
we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned
up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next
function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not
an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime." page 84.
We are told that we have entered the world of the spirit by taking
steps 1-9. We developed new sane relationships with ourselves with H.P. and
with other people. We now have conscious contact with H.P. We know how to act when
our defects surface and we make mistakes, since we have practiced steps 1-9. We have begun a new life. We will continue to practice these spiritual principles (the
steps) and incorporate them in our life as long as we live.
Now the Big Book gives us specific instructions on how to live Step
Ten on a daily basis:
"Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear
[step 4]. When these crop up, we ask God at once to
remove them [steps 6 & 7]. We discuss them with someone immediately [step 5] and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone [steps 8 & 9]. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code." page 84.
As we can see, step ten comprises the application of steps 4-9 on a
daily basis. We have to watch out for the manifestations of our
self- centeredness and self-will run riot, which are selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.
We have not turned into angels by working the steps. The Big Book
knows that our character defects will surface from time to time. We
are new born, which means we are really like babies learning to live
life in the spiritual dimensions. Our old patterns will surface, but
now we have the tools to deal with them on the spot.
We have to understand that the steps are not magic tricks to be performed
once, so that they might solve all our problems. Rather the steps are a
discipline, a body of theory and technique that must be studied and practiced if
we are able to apply this program to our lives. We continue with the
techniques we have begun to practice in the earlier steps. We
continue to take our inventory. We continue to admit our
shortcomings. We continue to ask God to remove our shortcomings, and
we continue to make amends when we wrong others.
The last three of the twelve steps 10-12 are designed for daily
living and practice to help me continue my spiritual growth.
There is no standing in place on the spiritual path. We either grow
and progress or we regress back into our illness.
Working those steps on a daily basis helps me to move forward and
grow spiritually and emotionally for the rest of my life.
What we do in Step Ten is a spot check and treatment by taking steps 4-9
immediately in any life situation where we acted out our defects.
Since this is on the spot treatment we cannot always write or call
our sponsor, but we are in a new stage now. If an inventory is
necessary, which is the case for resentments, fears and hurting others,
we can go over the appropriate tables in our head and see our part. We
can share with someone who is a friend or a colleague. We don't have
to wait for our sponsor since it is an immediate treatment. And if
we have to repair some harm that we have done, we make amends
immediately and don't delay, unless we are not entirely clear about the
situation and need to share with someone. Even then we find someone
suitable near us and share with him.
We practice steps 6-7 on the spot in our heads. We ask God to remove
our defects that appeared in that situation, and we act to practice the
conjugate assets. In addition to that we help others, which helps us practice
unselfishness, and we remember that our code of behavior is love and
tolerance of others. Of course we have to add to that, love and
tolerance of ourselves too.
Let us now see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to say about step 10.
As it turns out it is quite a lot:
"As we work the first nine Steps, we prepare ourselves for the
adventure of a new life. But when we approach Step Ten we
commence to put our A.A. [OA] way of living to practical use,
day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test:
can we stay sober [abstinent], keep in emotional balance,
and live to good purpose under all conditions? ...
"Although all inventories are alike in principle, the time
factor does distinguish one from another. There's the spot-check
inventory, taken at any time of the day, whenever we find ourselves
getting tangled up [that's part of step 10 according to the Big Book]... The emphasis on inventory is heavy only because a great many of us have never really acquired the habit of accurate self-appraisal. Once this healthy practice has become grooved, it will be so interesting and profitable that the time it takes won't be missed... And at length our
inventories become a regular part of everyday living, rather than
something unusual or set apart.
"Before we ask what a spot-check inventory is, let's look at the kind of setting in which such an inventory can do its work.
"It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the
wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What
about 'justifiable' anger? If somebody cheats us, aren't we
entitled to be mad? Can't we be properly angry with
self-righteous folk? For us of A.A. [OA] these are dangerous
exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left
to those better qualified to handle it.
"Few people have been more victimized by resentments
than have we alcoholics [compulsive eaters]. It mattered little
whether our resentments were justified or not. A burst of temper
could spoil a day, and a well-nursed grudge could make us miserably
ineffective. Nor were we ever skillful in separating justified from
unjustified anger. As we saw it, our wrath was always justified. Anger, that occasional luxury of more balanced people, could keep us on an emotional jag indefinitely. These emotional "dry benders" often led straight to the bottle [food]. Other kinds of disturbances -- jealousy, envy, self-pity, or hurt pride -- did the same thing.
"A spot-check inventory taken in the midst of such disturbances
can be of very great help in quieting stormy emotions. Today's spot check
finds its chief application to situations which arise in each day's march.
The consideration of long-standing difficulties had better be postponed,
when possible, to times deliberately set aside for that purpose.
The quick inventory is aimed at our daily ups and downs, especially
those where people or new events throw us off balance and tempt us
to make mistakes.
"In all these situations we need self-restraint, honest analysis
of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and
an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere.
We need not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old
ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for
progress, not for perfection.
"Our first objective will be the development of self-
restraint. This carries a top priority rating. When we speak
or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and
tolerant evaporates on the spot. One unkind tirade or one willful
snap judgment can ruin our relation with another person for a
whole day, or maybe a whole year. Nothing pays off like restraint
of tongue and pen. We must avoid quick-tempered criticism and furious,
power-driven argument. The same goes for sulking or silent scorn.
These are emotional booby traps baited with pride and vengefulness.
Our first job is to sidestep the traps. When we are tempted by the bait,
we should train ourselves to step back and think. For we can neither
think nor act to good purpose until the habit of self-restraint has become
"Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some
extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach
true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows actually means.
It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless
to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from
the pains of growing up.
"Such a radical change in our outlook will take time, maybe a
lot of time. Not many people can truthfully assert that they love
everybody. Most of us must admit that we have loved but a few; that we have been
quite indifferent to the many so long as none of them gave us trouble;
and as for the remainder -- well, we have really disliked or hated them.
Although these attitudes are common enough, we A.A.'s [OA's] find we need something much better in order to keep our balance. We can't stand it if we hate deeply. The idea that we can be possessively loving of a few, can ignore the many, and can continue to fear or hate anybody, has to be abandoned, if only a little at a time.
"We can try to stop making unreasonable demands upon those we
love. We can show kindness where we had shown none.
With those we dislike we can begin to practice justice and courtesy,
perhaps going out of our way to understand and help them.
"Whenever we fail any of these people, we can promptly admit
it -- to ourselves always, and to them also, when the admission would be
helpful. Courtesy, kindness, justice, and love are the keynotes by which
we may come into harmony with practically anybody. When in doubt we
can always pause, saying, 'Not my will, but Thine, be done.'
And we can often ask ourselves, 'Am I doing to others as I would have
them do to me -- today?' " pages 88-93.
The A.A. 12 & 12 expands the Big Book explanations and gives us a lot of
useful pointers on practicing step 10. Just two examples out of many: it emphasizes the importance of daily "on the spot" inventories and emphasizes the importance of restraint which helps avoid trouble.
Now that we are in the recovery stage and working step 10, there are
more promises that materialize in our life. Let us see the tenth
step promises in the Big Book:
"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol [food].
For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in
liquor [trigger foods]. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.
We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened
automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor [food]
has been given us without any thought or effort on our part.
It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither
are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in
a position of neutrality safe and protected. We have not even sworn off.
Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.
We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so
long as we keep in fit spiritual condition." pages 84-85.
These promises deal with sanity and with our physical addiction.
We don't have to fight anything anymore even food, since our
obsession has been removed and we are acting sanely now.
H.P. has removed our problem. This is the miracle of this program,
the removal of our food obsession.
God does His part but we have to do ours. There is a condition.
Our recovery is contingent on our keeping in a fit spiritual
constitution. This means that our degree of recovery is dependent on
our degree of daily spiritual living.
We have to continue to practice the steps on a daily basis, otherwise
our illness will take over again.
"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on
our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol [food] is a
subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism [compulsive eating].
What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance
of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry
the vision of God's will into all of our activities. 'How can I best serve
Thee, Thy will (not mine) be done.' These are thoughts which must go with
us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will." BB page 85.
We are told explicitly that our recovery is on a daily basis only.
We have to progress, develop and grow by conforming our will to God's
will. How do we do it? By working all the steps (not just 1-3) on a daily
As we continue to work step ten in our life, we shall see our
character defects become smaller, our relationship with H.P. will
become better, and so will our relationship with others and with
Working step ten includes steps 4-9 as needed on the spot,
helping others and practicing love and tolerance of others.
Examples of working step ten:
Helping others in different situations, at work or at home or wherever we
are. It does not have to be something spectacular. It can be saying a kind
word, giving a smile, giving a helping hand to someone, etc. These are examples of helping others and acts of practicing love, tolerance and goodwill.
Practicing restraint and not running off at the mouth is also a very
important practice of step ten. Not laughing at someone's expense. If I want to laugh at something let me laugh at myself. Avoiding gossip. Also regarding my work as service may help me avoid procrastination.
Being aware of acting out defects,
asking God to remove them and practicing the conjugate assets, is
practicing steps 6 & 7 as part of step 10.
Sharing with friends and and learning from them is practicing step 5 in the framework of step 10. When we become angry or frightened or if we hurt someone, we may begin with
going over the appropriate inventory table in our head and seeing our
part and our defects.
Taking responsibility for our words and actions, continuing with
steps 5, 6, 7 and if necessary 8 & 9 on the spot, is how we work step
10. Seems like a lot of work, and in the beginning it needs a lot of
attention and practice. But with time our response to situations
becomes more and more program-oriented, and less illness-oriented.
When I began practicing step ten I had a lot of apologizing and
amends to do, since I used to shout at people a lot and hurt their
feelings, especially at work. Then the number of people I shouted at
became less and less, and as I continue to practice step ten it is
very unusual to find me shouting at someone at work. This is quite a
change. I find that practicing step ten becomes an integral part of
my life, and as such it makes my life much more happy and free of
INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:
1. Commit to working step 10 as a spot check and action on a daily
basis whenever and wherever needed.
2. When anger or fear surface during the day do the following on the spot:
a) Go over the anger (resentment) or fear tables in your head, and see what
was your part and what character defects of yours were involved in this
case. It is a good idea to have some empty resentment, fear, and harm tables
with me in case I forget their structure, or that I have time to do the
inventory in writing.
b) Share with someone. It does not necessarily have to be your
sponsor or an OA member, if they are not available at the time.
c) Ask God to remove the defects you exhibited in this case.
d) Practice the conjugate assets whenever and wherever possible.
3. When defects which are not fear or anger surface, like envy, criticism,
etc., begin with 2. b) and continue to c) and d)
4. When your conduct harmed someone (emotionally, financially or
physically), go over stages 2. a) to d) beginning with the harm done to
5. Share on practicing step 10, how it affects your environment, and
the changes you notice in your behavior after a while.
Have a nice day.