Hi, friends. I’m Penny K, a compulsive eater and your leader for this quarter’s WTS step study.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Now that Step 9 is either behind us or we’re continuing our journey while we’re making amends, lots of us breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Well, thank God THAT’S over!”
And then we read Step 10, which tells us that we keep on keeping on.
The Big Book puts it this way, “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. 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." Alcoholics Anonymous World Service (2014-01-05). Alcoholics Anonymous (Kindle Locations 1559-1564). Kindle Edition.
Step 10 is the start of our continuing daily recovery, the first of the daily action steps.
Why a daily inventory? In my case – and, I think, like many of us – I have character defects that continue to pop up. Since it’s those defects of character, the instincts run riot, that created the emotional and spiritual environment where I needed to turn to excess (or restricted) food, I need to continue to keep a lookout for them.
I love the expression, “…grow in understanding and effectiveness.” Isn’t that a lovely way to put it? Working a regular Step 10 is not done so I can be perfect; it’s so that I can continue to flourish spiritually. Step 10 continues my spiritual and emotional maturation.
My format for Step 10 has changed over the years, but I often go back to the source, and it’s pretty simple:
Was I selfish? Was I dishonest? Did I experience resentment? Did I experience fear?
I write about each, using a 4th Step format, and then keep going:
Do I owe an apology? Am I hiding something that should be shared at once?
Since an inventory includes both stuff that needs to be removed and things that I want to hold onto and nurture, I continue:
Was I kind and loving? What could I have done better? What did I do for others? What have I done well?
I often add a gratitude list.
When I’m done, if necessary, I ask my Higher Power to remove whatever character defects crop up. I ask for the guidance and willingness to make whatever amends are necessary; and for the willingness to share my inventory with my sponsor.
Sometimes I do a 10th Step inventory and feel discouraged that a character defect I thought I had been rid of is back in full bloom. But Step 10 – all of OA, really – is about spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. I’m human, and I make mistakes. To expect me to be perfect, to be disappointed that my humanity is showing itself again, is arrogant. A friend used to describe uncovering or revisiting character defects as an “AGO,” another growth opportunity. Step 10 is a way to keep my side of the street clean so that I don’t accumulate all the chaos that was a hallmark of my eating career. And I have to always remember that I agreed at the beginning that my Higher Power would take care of me and would remove my defects of character as I became willing to let them go. So if something shows up again, well, it’s just another growth opportunity.
A regular Step 10 means that I live a very self-examined life. It’s not navel-gazing self-absorption; it’s a process to keep me being the best person I can be.
Yes, it takes time – and yes, it’s worth it. I know it’s worth the time and energy because of the next set of promises, known as the 10th Step promises:
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone–even (food). For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in (food). 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 (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. 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 food is a subtle foe. We are not cured of 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.” Alcoholics Anonymous World Service (2014-01-05). Alcoholics Anonymous (Kindle Locations 1567-1575). Kindle Edition.
Just like the 9th Step promises, the 10th Step promises do come true, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. The promises happen as long as I stay in fit spiritual condition.
And that is the primary difference between going on a diet and going on the 12-step plan. Diets focus on food; OA recovery focuses on my relationship with my Higher Power. Diets are pure physicality; OA recovery is pure spirit: discovering and growing/nurturing the best person we can be based on developing our understanding of our Higher Power’s will for us. Diets are about our control; OA recovery is about letting our Higher Power take care of us.
Questions for journaling/working Step 10:
- Do you do a regular Step 10? How come?
- Step 10 is all about progress, not perfection. How do you see that working in your recovery?
- What’s your reaction when a character defect that you thought HP had removed suddenly reappears?
- Would you share your Step 10 process?
- How have the 10th Step promises shown themselves in your life?
Thank you for letting me share!
The Twelve Steps