Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
~ Finish the earlier reading if you haven't as yet
~ Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) -Chapter 6 "Into Action," beginning on page 84, in the middle of the page with the sentence "This thought brings us to Step Ten," and ending at the bottom of page 85 with "But we must go further and that means more action."
~ The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step Ten
~ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous) - Step Ten
Let it out.
Connect with Higher Power.
It's probably foolish to have a "favorite step," but Step Ten is the one that I rely on the most, day after day. It's the one that encourages me, that reminds me "OK, so you're not perfect. But you are getting better." And there are things you can do to keep getting better. This is the "keep coming back" step. "This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime." AA Big Book. This is a permanent solution to our compulsive eating and our unmanageable lives: "Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve." OA 12 and 12; OA For Today. We repeated our compulsive eating and dysfunctional life practices day after day all our lives until now. We will now repeat, day after day, the new ways, "...the actions that have already brought us so much healing." OA 12 and 12.
CEASE FIGHTING "And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. 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 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 our experience." AA Big Book. The self-help advice for our eating problems which we are generally given in society is exactly the opposite of our new way of approaching it. Instead of "fighting" against our urges and trying to "control our eating," we are advised to stop, to pause, to apply the steps to these difficulties. We are powerless over these urges BUT there is a power greater than ourselves that can handle them. We are turning them over to that power. We are looking at why we are turning to food, what is eating us, sharing about it with another person, letting go of "our" control and asking our Higher Power to handle it, to show us what to do. We are cleaning up the messes we have made with our self-will efforts to fight and control everything. We've given up the battle, which we couldn't win, and instead found victory in surrender of this problem to a Higher Power. I can't say I always have this "promise," but as long as I don't open the door to compulsive eating, as long as I stay well within the boundaries my Higher Power has given me, and keep doing my 12 step footwork one day at a time, I do experience this "position of neutrality - safe and protected." And I am so grateful.
FIT SPIRITUAL CONDITION "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 is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." AA Big Book. Every time I hear myself say "I've got this!" I know I'm in trouble. When I hear that, warning alarms go off, and I get back to basics, give thanks, pray and meditate, steps, tools. The only way "I've got this" is by doing that 12 step work one day at a time. What it comes down to for me is constantly turning to God/my Higher Power, as often as I can, asking "What would you have me do?" "How would you have me be in this situation?"
PROPER USE OF WILLPOWER I have strong willpower - unfortunately it was directed mainly to "Me Myself and My Wants." Now I use willpower differently - to keep me doing the things that work: 12 steps, prayer & meditation, using tools that are recommended. Willpower enables me to do my daily reading, prayer & meditation, service, sponsorship, prepare and eat abstinent meals, even when I "feel like" doing something different. I never regret it and give thanks later that I followed the guidance. The AA Big Book says the "proper use of the will" is to constantly keep saying, thinking, praying: "Your will not mine." For me, it's more powerful when I combine it with gratitude. I say "Thank you God, your will be done," in my mind so often that it has become a mantra living in me. It is often surprising how that mantra will yank me back from some impulsive or compulsive action. "In the past, we may have clung stubbornly to self-destructive eating and other harmful behaviors. Now we will need to be stubborn about working our program, even during those times when we feel as though it isn't working or we aren't recovering quickly enough. Stubbornness turned to such good use becomes perseverance as we continue - day after day - to apply to our lives the same concepts we learned in steps four through nine." OA 12 and 12.
NOT JUST FOR EMERGENCIES! In earlier years in this program I had a lot of compulsive eating emergencies, and I would turn to step 10 work and other step work. But this treatment I am undergoing is not just a crisis-rescue technique. It's like they tell us in medical treatment - Don't let the pain, or the asthma, or the allergy symptoms get to the point of needing emergency intervention. Yes this treatment can be used in emergencies, however it is for "practical day-to-day" use. We "commence to put our A.A. way of living to practice use, day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions?" AA 12 and 12. This treatment rewires our reactions, allowing us to handle the ups and downs of life and stress, disappointment and excitement, without excess food to calm us down, take the edge off, comfort us, boost our courage, numb us from emotional pain and social awkwardness.
INVENTORY So the first part of Step 10 tells us "Continued to take personal inventory." This may sound daunting. Good grief! I spent so much time on my inventory in step four - when am I going to have time to live if I have to do that all the time? No worries, friends, because although it takes time, it is not as wide-ranging as our Step Four was. The AA 12 and 12 talks about three types of Step 10 inventories, and spends the most attention on the "spotcheck inventory." A Step 10 inventory does not have to take a lot of time, AND it becomes a habit of mind, we get accustomed to doing things this way instead of the old "What do I want?" way, AND it brings such a big payoff that we are grateful and glad to do it. Like physical hygiene practices, which we do without much fuss or resentment. "...[O]nce this healthy practice has become grooved, it will be so interesting and profitable that the time it takes won't be missed" and it makes "...all the other hours of our day better and happier. And at length our inventories become a regular part of everyday living, rather than something unusual or set apart."
1. Spotcheck Mental Inventory "Every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us." AA 12 and 12. We are accustomed to looking at the other person, the situation, the provocation, as the cause of our upset. Here we are reminded to look at our reaction to the people, places, situations, events - it is our reaction that we need to deal with. If I find myself "venting" to someone or going round and round in my own head about something someone did or said, or about a situation, this is a clear sign that I'm off base. I'm blaming the outside "cause or condition" for my upset, and instead I need to look at myself. Yes, maybe the other person is in the wrong, but that is not my business here. Making exceptions is dangerous for us. It's more helpful to just accept that feeling upset is a danger sign and a warning that I need to "step up" to apply a quick version of steps four through nine or even one through nine. "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. Other kinds of disturbances, - jealousy, envy self-pity or hurt pride - did the same thing." This type of inventory is applied to the "...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. "With practice, it becomes easier to recognize the exact nature of our problems and see what actions we need to take to restore our serenity...Once we begin to practice this pattern of on-the-spot analysis and action whenever we're disturbed, it becomes a habit for us, and we discover we've learned an amazing, new set of skills for successful living." OA 12 and 12.
2. Daily Inventory A brief review of the "balance sheet" of things we did well, things we did poorly, things we tried to do but failed, gives us our practical lessons: "...the pains of failure are converted into assets." This can be mental or written. Many people do this at the end of the day. Some people have a list of common character defects, and review it to see if these cropped up. Some make a list of our actions throughout the day. What were our motives? Were we acting out of greed, selfishness, "...prideful, angry, jealous, anxious or fearful...we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better, and resolve with God's help to carry these lessons over into tomorrow, making, of course, any amends still neglected." AA 12 and 12. We need to be careful about rationalization, "subtle and elusive self-righteousness," justifying our actions when they were actually wrong, "to hide a bad motive underneath a good one," when our motivation was actually to punish, to tear someone else down, to hide, or to build up ourselves. It's important to note areas where we are making progress, that an old pattern or defect has been removed, and we handled the situation in a healthy way.
3. Progress Review Many people do an annual or semiannual review or a retreat, by going back through the steps "...an undisturbed day or so of self-overhaul and meditation." AA 12 and 12.
4. Written Inventory "When we write about our difficulties, it becomes easier to see situations more clearly..." OA 12 and 12. The written inventory can be short or more extensive. It may address "aspects of our lives which we were not capable of dealing with the first time around." OA 12 and 12.
AMENDING AS WE GO The second part of Step Ten is "and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."
1. Self-Restraint "Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen." AA 12 and 12. We avoid retaliating over perceived offenses of others - we avoid lashing out, or pulling away and sulking, or silent scorn. "These are emotional booby traps baited with pride and vengefulness." We develop a habit of pausing, thinking before reacting. "Amending" our old ways of reacting, our hairtrigger responses, is an amendment that limits or avoids harm to others and ourselves. What a gift is self-restraint, especially coupled with prayer & meditation! "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." "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." AA 12 and 12.
2. Handling Success "For no people have ever loved personal triumphs more than we have loved them; we drank of success as of a wine which could never fail to make us feel elated." It's great when something we do is successful, but I am wary about the victory dance. It has led me to trouble in the past. It is a "self-seeking" trap for me. The way that protects me from the danger now is to give thanks to my Higher Power for enabling me to perform well, to use my skills, for all the small parts that went into the success, and acknowledge the contributions of others. The minute I become self-congratulatory, I am headed for trouble.
3. Promptly "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
OVERCOMING THE OLD WAYS Never underestimate the power of habit - for good or for ill. We have practiced our old "coping skills" over and over, day in, day out for a lifetime. It takes time and repetition to change. One speaker I listened to compared habit to a river bed - the grooves in the earth that a river has made over time. The river just "naturally" follows the river bed. It takes time for a river to make a new river bed, just as it takes time for me to make new habits and get comfortable and "natural" and automatic using them. I'm used to blaming others and myself for problems. Now I need to do these other 12 step actions when I'm upset, instead of blaming someone or something. "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 perfection." AA 12 and 12. "We've spent a lifetime learning to do things the old ways, so of course the old behaviors will feel much more natural to us at first. As time goes on, however, God will help us let go of our defects and replace them with positive habits of thinking and acting. God will, that is, if we persist in doing whatever we can to change." OA 12 and 12
BENEFITS OF STEP 10 "The new attitudes of honesty about our problems and surrender to a power greater than ourselves have become a part of us by now; they are the basis of every choice we make in our day-to-day lives. Reviewing our recent behavior, keeping our Higher Power in charge of our lives, asking for guidance, and promptly admitting our errors, becomes a sane and satisfying way of life - far better than nursing our fears or building a fresh set of resentments to harbor. forced to adopt this new way of coping with life in order to recover from compulsive eating, we now find ourselves grateful for this program in its own right. 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.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION AND COMMENT:
1. What concerns, difficulties or obstacles do you have as you work step ten?
2. What is your reaction to this statement: "Every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us."
3. What actions are you taking to work step ten?
4. Can you give one or more examples of how you have experienced a situation in the "new way" compared with how you experienced the same or similar situation in the "old way"?
5. Any other thoughts or reactions to the reading or step ten?
The Twelve Steps