Leader's Share and Step Questions
STEP Ten: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Hi WTS loopies! Thank you for your hard work the past week. Please persevere, the best is yet to come… At your own pace and with the help of your sponsor.
For me Step Nine is the most difficult of all the steps to work. I'm grateful for Step Ten that can help me do the footwork one day at a time for the rest of my life, (including some house-cleaning steps that need maintenance). We progress and grow with each passing day, week, month and year. We are not where we used to be… We are making progress!! ODAT.
Step Ten is all about perseverance and I'm grateful that a character defect of mine (stubbornness) helped me to keep coming back. I've been doing this the past four years and five months. One day at a time… And many of the promises have come true for me.
My second sponsor (back in 2010) gave me some homework to do every day: She asked me to read page 86 to 88 in the AA Big Book every day. I asked her “Seriously? Do YOU read these pages every day?” Her answer was “Yes, most days.” If I wanted what she had, I had to do what she did... I did and still do, only added some more pages.
I try to read the Big Book page 83 to 88 every day and some parts I can recite from memory. These pages in the Big Book gave me a new design for living. Today I have a Daily Inventory that I send to my sponsors most days and huge parts were derived from these pages.
My Daily Inventory also includes Step 11 and 12 actions, a daily gratitude list, the tools I used, my plan of eating, what I plan to eat the next day and in retrospect what I ate that day. At the end of the inventory is a letter to God. At first it took me about an hour to complete. Today it will take more or less ten minutes before I go to bed at night. If you want a template of my example, I will send it with love. Just email me at email@example.com
The value of Step 10 (for me) is that I had the tendency to use “BUTS”… in my inventory. No, I'm not talking about my shrinking butt, but the other BUT. These "buts" I easily used were characterised by denial (DENIAL = Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying), self justification and rationalization. Step 10 helps me (with the assistance of my sponsor) to do a more accurate self-appraisal. My compulsive overeating is a chronic illness, so I need to use my medicine.
My second sponsor became a recovery friend and the other day she shared in her musings: "If I have a fatal disease, how do I treat it? My doctor is God, the physician’s assistant is my sponsor. My plan of eating is my prescription. And my daily disciplines of taking the steps, using the tools and living by the traditions is my physical therapy. I cannot leave any of these things out in order for my treatment to be effective. My disease is in remission because I have been treating it like a fatal disease, with treatment no less important than chemo is to cancer." Indeed a wise woman.
The principle of Step Ten: PERSEVERANCE
“In step ten we discovered the value of perseverance in working the twelve steps. Practicing this principle in all our affairs today means that we continue to do the things which have brought us healing, even though we sometimes wonder if we still need to. Perseverance brings us the reward of continuing, permanent recovery.” (OA 12 and 12, page 105)
We need to keep cleaning our sides of the street. WITHOUT “BUTS”… In other words when I need to make amends, I say “I’m sorry for ……” not putting any 'but' at the end to find excuses for behaviours, actions or attitudes. OR to move to OPPOSITE side of the street...
Step Ten: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
The key words here are CONTINUED and PROMPTLY.
CONTINUED means I keep on cleaning up on my side of the street. Doing it PROMPTLY ~ in other words, I will not wait, but do it immediately. This is how I recover spiritually, emotionally and physically. If one of the legs of my three legged stool is off balance, my stool falls over and I relapse.
CONTINUED to take personal inventory is the FOOTWORK we read about… The footwork helps us to stay spiritually fit, find a daily reprieve from cravings and stay abstinent. Do you want this way of life? Are you willing to do the footwork? Honestly? Open-mindedly? Then pray the Step 10 prayer with me.
TENTH STEP PRAYER:
Dear God, I pray I may continue to grow
in understanding and effectiveness;
to take daily spot check inventories of myself;
to correct mistakes when I make them;
to take responsibility for my actions;
to be ever aware of my negative and
self-defeating attitudes and behaviours;
to keep my wilfulness in check;
to always remember I need Your help;
to keep love and tolerance of others as my code;
and to continue in daily prayer how I can best serve You.
What is the purpose of Step 10?
“The purpose of step ten is to identify and remove from our path today’s stumbling blocks, those manifestations of pride, fear, anger, self-pity, greed, and other emotions which are bringing pain into our lives and keeping us from growing today.” (OA 12 and 12, page 84)
“But when we approach Step Ten we commence to put our A.A. 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?” (AA 12 and 12, page 88, additions between brackets my own)
“[We] practiced unsparing self-survey and criticism. For the wise have always known that no one can make much of his life until self-searching becomes a regular habit, until he is able to admit and accept what he finds, and until he patiently and persistently tries to correct what is wrong.” (AA 12 and 12, page 88, additions between brackets my own)
“[We suffered] terrific [physical] hangover[s] because [we indulged in obsessive food behaviours] yesterday. [Also] emotional hangover[s], the direct result of yesterday's and sometimes today's excesses of negative emotion[s]—anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers. This doesn't mean we need to wander morbidly around in the past. It requires an admission and correction of errors now.... tomorrow's challenges can be met as they come.” (AA 12 and 12, page 88 – 89, additions between brackets mine)
“Step ten allows us to recognize our emotions and walk through the pain they cause us, but then to let go of them, and turn them over to our Higher Power so that we can regain our emotional balance.” (OA 12 and 12, page 84)
The Big Book gives us specific instructions on how to work and live Step Ten on a daily basis for the rest of our lives:
- Step Four: "Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear”
- Step Six and Seven: “When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.”
- Step Five: “We discuss them with someone immediately, and”
- Step Eight and Nine: “make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone”
- Step 12: “Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code." (AA Big Book, page 84)
We have to continue to practice Step 10 (and also 11 and 12) daily from now on forwards. One day at a time. If not, our obsession with food will return:
"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 food behaviours]. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” (AA Big Book, page 85, addition between brackets mine)
So how do we maintain our spiritual fitness? Simply by working Steps 10, 11 and 12 every day. When we are spiritually fit we have the muscle POWER from our HP that helps us to stay abstinent from compulsive food behaviours. We have a DAILY reprieve! ODAT (One Day At a Time) if we DO the FOOTWORK.
“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." (AA Big Book, page 85, additions between brackets my own)
There are different types of inventories:
- The spot-check inventory
- The end-of-day inventory
- Review of progress inventory (maybe a day retreat to meditate on our progress)
- Annual or semi-annual house-cleanings
- Others for example the AEIOU way of doing Step 10 as was publicised in Lifeline a few years ago (see bottom at Assignment)
“Although all inventories are alike in principle, the time factor does distinguish one from another. There's the spotcheck inventory, taken at any time of the day, whenever we find ourselves getting tangled up. There's the one we take at day's end, when we review the happenings of the hours just past. Here we cast up a balance sheet, crediting ourselves with things well done, and chalking up debits where due. Then there are those occasions when alone, or in the company of our sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a careful review of our progress since the last time. Many A.A.'s go in for annual or semiannual housecleanings. Many of us also like the experience of an occasional retreat from the outside world where we can quiet down for an undisturbed day or so of self-overhaul and meditation.” (AA 12 and 12, page 89, emphasis mine)
“Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character-building and good living.” (AA 12 and 12, page 94 – 95)
“When evening comes, perhaps just before going to sleep, many of us draw up a balance sheet for the day.” (AA 12 and 12, page 93)
I have used the directions in the Big Book (from page 86 to 87) in your assignment as an example of the night time inventory. Here we review our day. In my own inventory I end it off with a letter to my HP where I ask forgiveness and direction.
“Some of us make a daily habit of reviewing our emotions and behaviour of the past twenty-four hours. A more leisurely and careful analysis than the spot-check inventory, a daily inventory may be written or done mentally.” (OA 12 and 12, page 86)
This can be done at any time – morning or in the evenings before we go to bed, and even through-out our day.
“Step ten suggest that we make amends promptly, as soon as we realize someone has been wronged. By doing this, we bring a new honesty into our relationships. We find we can save ourselves days of resentment and fear by resolving disputes as they arise, instead of allowing wounds to fester.” (OA 12 and 12 page 87 – 88)
“Some OAs make a daily call to a sponsor in which we read or discuss the tenth-step inventory.” (OA 12 and 12, page 87)
I do this by email and discuss bigger issues on Skype once a week when I have an hour appointment with my primary sponsor.
There are times when we will take up an issue with people, places or things and work a thorough Step Four on it, share it in a Step Five, follow it up with Steps Six and Seven and make amends in Step Nine and Ten. This is called an extensive Step 10:
A tenth-step inventory can also be more extensive similar to the one we took in step four but dealing with problems we may not have been aware of when we originally took the fourth step… we have grown in self-awareness and have become ready to face and resolve aspects of our lives…” (OA 12 and 12, page 88)
The Big Book explains how we do Step Ten:
"… 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. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code." (AA Big Book, page 84)
"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." (AA 12 and 12, page 90)
What might be on our daily written inventory if we choose to use this method?
“a genuine gratitude for blessings received… Having so considered our day, not omitting to take due note of things well done, and having searched our hearts with neither fear nor favor, we can truly thank God for the blessings we have received and sleep in good conscience.” (AA 12 and 12, page 95)
A gratitude list? I have space for ten things I'm grateful for in my daily inventory.
“It also serves as a reminder of those things which are going well for us and for which we might be grateful.” (OA 12 and 12, page 86)
We can cultivate and attitude of gratitude in many other ways too by:
- practicing a code of love and tolerance in everything we do;
- a grateful heart that can help us to activate the POWER of your HP;
- listing these things we are grateful for on our daily inventory;
- blessing people, places, ourselves and things in our lives by emphasising the positive for example:
- Giving praise in the form of a compliment to another person, the beauty of the ocean, the décor of a restaurant.
- Affirmations spoken to myself like “Susan, you are worthy of recovery, are making progress physically and are growing spiritually. You are learning how to set healthy boundaries emotionally.”
- Expressing appreciation to others – a simple "Thank you" for politeness and kindness. Saying “Thank you, God!” Maybe just for small things like rain, food, enough and abstinence.
- Anticipating something beautiful ~ before a 12-step meeting, before opening gifts, when family spend time together. Well wishes for somebody who is ill, and gratefulness for a bonus earned for work well done.
- Even thanking our HP for adversity… This can be very powerful. From weakness comes strength… Most root growth takes place in the winter months.
- A simple smile ~ the universal language. Try it today! A virtual smile looks like this: :-) or :)
Other things that can be placed on our daily inventory or on spot checks throughout the day are:
“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… 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.” (AA 12 and 12, page 90 and 91, addition between brackets by myself)
I love the following:
“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 selfrestraint has become automatic.” (AA 12 and 12, page 91)
“Aren't these practices [doing Step 10 inventories) joy-killers as well as time-consumers? Once this healthy practice has become grooved, it will be so interesting and profitable that the time it takes won't be missed.” (AA 12 and 12, page 89, addition between bracket mine)
As shared before, my daily inventory takes me about ten minutes after more than four years in programme. I can feel it when I skipped it... I'm not centered, peaceful, serene and at rest.
As a newcomer I sensed that some old-timers became super stars and oh so perfect. Yes, my discomfort might have been jealousy or envy... or justified. The AA 12 and 12 warns against this tendency to grow big heads:
As an insurance against “big-shot-ism” we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are today sober [abstinent] only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours. (AA 12 and 12, page 92, addition between brackets mine)
“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?’” (AA 12 and 12, page 93)
It reminds me that “Only grave-diggers start at the top”. Spiritual progress not perfection. We are growing… We are not where we used to be and may not be where we want to be, we ARE just where we’re supposed to be at this given moment in our lives. We are doing the best we know how according to this new design of living. "It takes what it takes until it takes" and "When the learner is ready, the teacher appears".
“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.” (AA 12 and 12, page 91, emphasis mine)
“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…. Such a radical change in our outlook will take time, maybe a lot of time.” (AA 12 and 12, page 92, emphasis mine)
“Even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all. Under these conditions, the pains of failure are converted into assets. Out of them we receive the stimulation we need to go forward. Someone who knew what he was talking about once remarked that pain was the touchstone of all spiritual progress.” (AA 12 and 12, page 93)
And then our own OA 12 and 12 tells us how to get there:
“We read on page 204 of our For Today Book, “Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve.” If we are to experience permanent recovery from compulsive eating, we will have to repeat, day after day, the actions that have already brought us so much healing.” (OA 12 and 12, page 83)
Again that comforting word “PROGRESS”:
“Our purpose is not to sir up negative feelings and guilt, but to continue along the path of progress and to recognize those areas of our lives in which progress is being made.” (OA 12 and 12, page 87)
We will love the beautiful promises of Step 10:
"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol [addictive eating behaviours]. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor [addictive eating behaviours]. 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." (AA Big Book, page 84 – 85, additions between brackets my own)
The OA 12 and 12 adds:
“Through the first nine steps of our program, we have made a beginning on an entirely new way of life, one that is leading us out of the mire of compulsive eating onto the solid ground of sane eating and successful living. Though primarily intended to help us clear up the accumulated debris of the past, action on these nine steps has also laid down patterns for us to follow in the future – patterns which will enable us to thrive, grow spiritually, and be happy without excess food.” (OA 12 and 12, page 83)
We have entered the world of the spirit!
“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." (AA Big Book, page 84.)
Practicing Step 10 daily becomes a new way of life. As we continue to work the steps we shall see our character defects being removed; our relationship with the God Of Our Understanding (GOMU) will improve, as well as our relationship with others and ourselves:
“Practicing the program has given us many gifts – gifts which we wouldn’t trade for the quick-and-easy solutions to our compulsive eating many of us once sought in every new diet. More gifts are in store for us as we continue working the program and experiencing the miracle of permanent recovery, one day at a time.” (OA 12 and 12, page 87)
WOW, thank you, God!! I want permanent recovery!!! What about you?
(i) Reading for this week
(ii) The principle of Step Ten is perseverance. Why do you think we need perseverance to work this step?
(iii) Explain the purpose of Step Ten according to the literature you read and my share.
(iv) The AEIOU way of doing Step 10 was publicised in Lifeline a few years ago: A = Abstinence; E = Exercise; I = stands for me – what did I do for me today?; O = Others – What did I do for others? Service?; U = Uncover – Hidden feelings, pain etc. U = Also stand for HP and spiritual activities.
If you already started doing a daily Step Ten Inventory, can you share how you do your inventory? Or how you plan to do your inventory?
(v) Do you use spot-checks throughout your day? How?
(vi) Do you believe in doing an annual or semi-annual house-cleaning? If your answers is “yes” how do you do it or plan to do it? If your answer is “no”, explain why?
(vii) Did you ever relapse? If your answer is “yes” how did you get abstinent again after a relapse? What happened? What role can Step Ten play to prevent relapse? If your answer is “no, I never relapsed” why do you think this is the case?
(viii) Complete the following example of Daily Step 10 Inventory Questions (AA Big Book, page 86) for any given day this week:
10 inventory Question
I resentful today?
I selfish today?
I dishonest today?
I afraid today?
I owe an apology today?
I kept something to myself that should bediscussed
with another person at once today?
I thinking of myself most of the time today?
I kind and loving towards all today?
could I have done better today?
I thinking of what I could do for others today?
did I do well today?
I take good care of myself today?
In loving fellowship
The Twelve Steps
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