With Step Ten we begin the “maintenance steps.” Already, we should be experiencing differences in our lives from having worked the first nine Steps. By keeping ourselves spiritually fit, we can now expect to continue to progress along the road to recovery.
I think this step is a daily practice. We go over our activities, and we look at things that have gone well for us, and things that have not. Sometimes we will espy things we have done that caused problems or unpleasantness for ourselves or for others. This Step tells us to do something about the situation, whatever may be called for, promptly. Sometimes promptly is even in the moment itself, or it may be at the first opportunity afterwards. The idea is to not allow things to build up, not to let go of these situations until they drag us down.
So, among other things, this Step is about self care as much as anything. It may seem to be other directed, especially to those of us who have been too much so for so long. But as much as others may be glad to see us responding sanely to life, the fact really is that we do this for our own benefit more than anything else. We are keeping the sidewalk swept on our side of the street.
This Step asks us to keep real. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have character defects and good character aspects. This Step asks us to assess these things, these habits of our lives, on a daily basis, using the skills we have acquired from working the previous Steps.
Now I have said that I think it desirable that we work the Steps regularly along thoroughly. I have tried to do this at least once a year, perhaps a little oftener, especially in the beginning of my recovery. But our list of character defects and our need to make amends will both abate drastically when we do a Step Ten every day. And our ability to see our own realities as human beings will increase as we do this.
For a change, we can speak with our sponsors, discuss things in meetings, and perhaps other safe places. We express to others our concerns about this or that. Does whatever we said or did proceed from a character defect? Do we own someone an amend? We are opening up instead of isolating. We are bringing who we really are into the bright light of day. And then, if we are willing to listen to what others say to us in sincerity, we may discover that they have some important aspects of our own truth and reality to share with us in the love we find in program. This two-fold activity greatly expands the areas of freedom in our lives.
Each one of us can make some kind of check list by which we can judge the activities of our day, and see what, if anything, we need to do in any given case. For some, this may be a literal list we go over. For others, it may be more listening to what our intuition is telling us about the situations in our lives.
But never again will we isolate, and never again will we let things build and build until we can no longer manage our lives.
For most of us, I suspect that asking our Higher Power to guide us in the daily inventory and in showing us what we need to do about anything that comes up is a key to continued growth in program. We do what we have to do, because recovery has to be the first thing, some would say the only thing. Everything else good proceeds from that.
STEP TEN QUESTIONS
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admit it.
1. Are you committed to taking the time each day to review your personal inventory? How do you see yourself going about this?
2. Are you now at a point where you think you can admit your mistakes promptly?
3. Sometimes in our people pleasing days we have said we were sorry when we weren’t the person being harmed. How would you distinguish these situations from real mistakes now?
4. Who are some people you might speak to if you had questions about something having to do with the Step Ten process? Are you willing to do this?
5. If we are only as sick as our secrets, we have to admit to our shortcomings when we find them affecting our lives. What mechanisms or people do you have in place that would allow you to share “secrets,” that is, shortcomings, with the expectation of being heard lovingly?
6. Are you willing to listen for a reply? Does working with your Higher Power on these things include the possibility that some of the conversation might be in the form of other people, or our group?
7. Do you love yourself enough to continue to live this way? How do you think that would look, how would it be?
STEP TEN ~ MY ANSWERS AND THE PROMISES
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admit it.
1. I used to take a moment to reflect each evening, to go over my day’s events. Now that I am retired, I have fewer distractions throughout the day, and so I have begun to take a look at what is going on with me more frequently. After each encounter with someone, I look back at it, and ask myself, what might I have done better than I did? Did I do anything that requires an amend? I like this process.
THE TWELVE PROMISES
2. Usually, I can admit my mistakes promptly. Sometimes I wish I could be as prompt in not making them in the first place!
3. I know that I have changed in this regard. I used to be in fear that I might insult or hurt someone, or do something wrong for which I would be punished. These were the survival tools of my childhood. Now, however, I do not feel that I need to please everyone, mainly only myself and my Higher Power. If others cannot be satisfied with a good me, then nothing I can do or say is going to please them anyway.
4. I have a sponsor, and I have a good home group. In the past I also had a therapist who was a Twelve Stepper, too. Many things I have said to these people, and gotten help and understanding. I also have to add that my wife is a wonderful friend who understands program, too, and that is a great thing.
5. My secrets were dire, and shameful. I feared that if I ever revealed what went on in my childhood no one would believe me, and I would be derided. In program I have learned that my experiences are more typical of compulsive eaters than not! Most of us suffered some kind of abuse. Some more than I, some less, but all along the same lines. I am no longer afraid of these things, and they have lost their power over me.
6. The other daily practices will come in the two remaining Steps, but certainly one of them is to have words with the God of my understanding about what is going on in my life. From time to time, I discover that I have not stayed to get a reply, and when that is the case, my defect has not been removed, When I listen, I am guided into the right path, the right situation, the right response. Every time.
7. After sixteen years in recovery I am able to testify to the fact that the Promises all come true, continue to come true. It isn’t one thing, but rather it is trying to live the Steps as much as I can that have brought this about.
Some of you may not know the promises, so I am appending them. They are from the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous, where they appear in one of the stories as a paragraph, not numbered. It didn’t take long for them to get numbered, however, as they are so true:
1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will accept it.
3. We will comprehend the word Serenity.
4. We will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6. The feelings of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellow travelers.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
10. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.