“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
1. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the Personal Stories from the Second Edition section, please turn to page 293. You can also turn to page 293 in the Third Edition of the Big Book, or page 264 in the Fourth Edition of the Big Book. We asked that this story be read before starting this presentation. In the bottom paragraph on this page the author shares about the need to continue the inventory he did with Dr. Bob. He says::
"A few months after I made my original trip to Akron I was feeling pretty cocky, and I didn't think my wife was treating me with proper respect, now that I was an outstanding citizen. So I set out to get drunk deliberately, just to teach her what she was missing. A week later, I had to get an old friend from Akron to spend two days sobering me up. That was my lesson, that one could not take the moral inventory and then file it away; that the alcoholic has to continue to take inventory every day if he expects to get well and stay well. That was my only slip. It taught me a valuable lesson."
2. We are now going to go through the paragraphs devoted to Step Ten in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. As we have suggested before, this is best done with an R.A. Sponsor. You will read a paragraph, pause; and I will then comment about what you just read.
3. Please remember that R.A. doesn't want to convince you of anything. R.A.'s experience has been that if you read this material, you will come to the same conclusions as we have. We want to endorse your conclusions, not convince you of ours.
4. The Multilith Copy of the Big Book is the first group conscience approved Big Book. It contains the pioneers' original "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelve Steps. Reading this particular section should remove any doubts you might have that the Big Book was originally designed to be an explicit instruction manual.
5. The following paragraphs are loaded with vital information. So we may share about each sentence in these paragraphs.
6. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book starting on page 38 with the sixth paragraph on the page, it says:
"This thought brings us to step ten, which suggests you continue to take personal inventory and continue to set any new mistakes right as you go along. You vigorously commenced this way of life as you cleaned up your past. You have entered the world of Spirit. Your next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for your life time. Continue to watch yourself for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, ask God at once to remove them. Discuss them with someone immediately. Make amends quickly if you have harmed anyone. Then resolutely turn your thoughts to someone you can help. Love and tolerance of others is your code."
7. This makes it clear that the Tenth Step is a continuation. It says to CONTINUE to take personal inventory and to CONTINUE to set any new mistakes right. It says that you vigorously COMMENCED this way of life as you cleaned up the past.
8. Working the first nine steps are how we begin to clean up the past.
9. The first nine steps are the beginning of a lifetime practice. The Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Steps are where we grow in understanding and effectiveness. We don't need to go back and redo the first nine steps because we are growing in our understanding and effectiveness as the result of living in Steps Ten, Eleven and especially Step Twelve.
10. Please note how the process begins in the previous steps, and then continues with these instructions for working Step Ten.
11. It says, "Continue to watch yourself for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, ask God at once to remove them." This is a continuation of the process begun in Steps Four, Six, and Seven.
12. We continue to search for our character defects, such as selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these, or other defects come up, we see that having them is not good. So we ask God, as soon as we see them, to remove them.
13. Many people look at the Tenth Step as being introspective. This is because it is part of self-examination. However, if you look at it carefully, you'll notice that just like the Fourth Step, the original "clear-cut directions" take us out of ourselves.
14. The next sentence says, "Discuss them with someone immediately." This is a continuation of the process begun in Step Five.
15. When we talk about our character defects with another person, we are forced out of ourselves.
16. When we see how these character defects affected others, we are forced out of ourselves.
17. This is a continuation of the process begun in Step Eight.
18. The next sentence says, "Make amends quickly if you have harmed anyone." This is a continuation of the process begun in Step Nine.
19. In other words, when character defects crop up, we look at how they affected other people. If we hurt anyone when these character defects cropped up, we make amends quickly.
20. The next sentence also takes us out of ourselves. It says, "Then resolutely turn your thoughts to someone you can help."
21. This suggests that you take the focus off of yourself by resolutely turning your thoughts to someone you can help.
22. What did the pioneers of the program mean by the term "resolutely turn your thoughts to someone you can help"?
23. First of all, notice that it says to "turn your thoughts to someone you can help."
24. You may not be in a position where you can drop what you are doing and go help someone. For example, you may be at work, or a family function.
25. However, no matter where you are, or what you are doing, you can always try to THINK about someone you can help, and what you will do for them when you have the opportunity.
26. This is one of the most important concepts in the program. Therefore, we are going to look more closely at what the Big Book says about it.
27. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 7, in the middle of the first full paragraph, the pioneers share, "For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die."
28. And on page 9, in the last two lines of the fourth paragraph the pioneers share, "Our very lives, as ex-alcoholics, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs."
29. On page 35, in the second paragraph, at the end of the sixth line, the pioneers share, "Your real purpose is to fit yourself to be of maximum service to God and the people about you."
30. On page 43, in the first full paragraph, at the end of the fifth line, the pioneers share, "To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action."
31. On page 43, in the second paragraph, at the end of the fourth line, the pioneers share that when talking with a newcomer, "Show how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own."
32. On page 44, in the fourth full paragraph, starting in the second line, the pioneers share, "Self-sacrifice for others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be."
33. One more quote, from page 47, where in the first paragraph, the pioneers share, "Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go where there is drinking, if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such a mission. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives, and God will keep you unharmed."
34. Many people who come to R.A. from another program wonder why working all the steps the way they were told, did not produce the recovery they were looking for.
35. One of R.A.'s members shares something that may help explain this:
"I have now learned the difference between unselfish, constructive action and self-sacrifice. If I am going to a meeting and someone called up and asked me for a ride, I would, of course, give that person a ride to the meeting, even if it meant going out of my way. That's an unselfish, constructive action.
"But, our program calls for self-sacrifice in addition to unselfish, constructive action. This means that when someone called and asked for a ride to a meeting because they desperately needed to find someone to sponsor, I gave them a ride, even though I hadn't intended to go to that meeting."
36. Most people recognize the goals of our spiritual program. They recognize the need to live a spiritual life. Therefore, they do not have a problem recognizing the need for unselfish, constructive action. However, many people do not recognize that there's a little bit further to go, to self-sacrifice, and this is where many people seem to fall short.
37. The program needs to be worked to a point where there is a degree of self-sacrifice involved. We cannot stop at the point where we are comfortable. We cannot stop at the point where we find it easy or convenient. This concept will be talked about in far more detail in the discussion of the Twelfth Step.
38. Back in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 38, let's take a look at the last sentence of the fifth paragraph and examine what the pioneers mean when they say, "Love and tolerance of others is your code."
39. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, starting with the fifth line of the fourth paragraph, the pioneers share, "Most of us sense that real tolerance of other people's shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others. Our very lives, as ex-alcoholics, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs."
40. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 30, starting in the fourth full paragraph, the pioneers share, "This is our course: realize at once that the people who wrong you are spiritually sick. Though you don't like their symptoms and the way these disturb you, they, like yourself, are sick, too. Ask God to help you show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that you would cheerfully grant a friend who has cancer. When a person next offends, say to yourself 'This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.'
41. Continuing in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers share, "Never argue. Never retaliate. You wouldn't treat sick people that way. If you do, you destroy your chance of being helpful. You cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show you how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one."
42. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"I had always misunderstood the meaning of tolerance. I thought that tolerance meant that I had to "put up with" someone, or in other words, that I had to tolerate them.
"What I have found is that, in the context of the Big Book, tolerance is synonymous with acceptance. To tolerate someone is not the same as treating them with love and tolerance.
"When I treat someone with love and tolerance, I accept where they are, and how they're behaving. I recognize that if they could do differently, they would do differently. I try to fill their needs, instead of my own."
43. When this R.A. member tries to get out of herself, she is doing what this part of the Tenth Step suggests. She is resolutely turning her thoughts to someone she can help.
44. Please note the connection between "resolutely turn your thoughts to someone you can help" and "love and tolerance of others is your code."
45. Love and tolerance of others is the standard that we apply in trying to be helpful. It's the measuring stick; it's the attitude and the behavior by which we try to live the concept of self-sacrifice, of being helpful. The way we can be helpful is by demonstrating love and tolerance of others.
46. Love and tolerance of others is the ideal that we grow towards. Very few people can force themselves to be loving and tolerant of others. But recognizing that this is a goal of the R.A. program, allows us to ask God for direction and guidance in how to reach this ideal.
47. This sentence and the following paragraph are frequently called the "Hidden Promises." They're obviously in the same size type, and basically in the same position on the page, as the other promises on this page, and yet, these are called hidden.
48. Some of R.A.'s members believe that they're called the "Hidden Promises" because when they didn't work the steps the way these books detailed, they simply didn't get these promises. Since they didn't get them, they didn't even know that they existed.
49. Other R.A. members believe that changing "you" to "we" when these promises were moved from the Multilith Big Book into the current Big Book, made these promises difficult to see. Therefore, they were hidden.
50. These promises are the result of living this type of unselfish, self-sacrificing program; a program that takes unselfish, constructive action to that one little degree further, to the point where self-sacrifice is involved.
51. Since most people never arrive at that point, they never experience these promises. And since they don't experience these promises, in many cases they deny that they even exist. And hence, the name "Hidden Promises."
52. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, continuing with the bottom paragraph on page 38. It says:
"And you have ceased fighting anything or anyone — even alcohol. For by this time your sanity will have returned. You will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, you will recoil from it as you would from a hot flame. You will react sanely and normally. You will find this has happened automatically. You will see that your new attitude toward liquor has been given you without any thought or effort on your part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. You are not fighting it, neither are you avoiding temptation. You feel as though you had been placed in a position of neutrality. You feel safe and protected. You have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for you. You are neither cocky nor are you afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."
53. This promises that anyone who works R.A.'s program, in this way, will have his or her sanity returned. This also promises that you will have ceased fighting.
54. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"When I came into Recoveries Anonymous, I literally had to fight to stop fighting. I had spent my entire life fighting, and may even have won a few battles, but I always lost the wars. A lifetime of fighting and losing should have taught me something. But until I read this passage, I didn't have an alternative."
55. The pioneers won by not fighting. Have you ever seen a pair of Chinese hand cuffs? They're a woven, straw tube. You insert your fingers in them and the harder you pull to get out, the tighter it grips, and the harder it is to get out. You get out of them by relaxing. You stop fighting, and they drop off.
56. Another one of R.A.'s members shares:
"My first indication that sanity had returned was the recognition that I didn't have the ability to fight something that I was supposed to be powerless over. With that recognition I could put my energy into stopping the fight."
57. The next sentence says, "You will seldom be interested in liquor."
58. Within R.A. we usually suggest that you not substitute words, but in this one paragraph, many of us find it helpful to mentally substitute the term HURTING YOURSELF OR OTHERS where it says liquor.
59. You will seldom be interested in HURTING YOURSELF OR OTHERS.
60. It continues by saying, "If tempted, you will recoil from it as you would from a hot flame. You will react sanely and normally."
61. An R.A. member shares:
"When I came into another program, I didn't hear people sharing that they had ceased fighting, that their sanity had been restored, that they were seldom interested in hurting themselves or others, that they were now reacting sanely and normally. Since I didn't know that these promises could be fulfilled, I didn't work a program to produce these results. Knowing that these results are promised allows me to strive towards them."
62. The next thing it says is that, "You will find that this has happened automatically."
63. As the result of using the spiritual principles embodied in the R.A. program, according to THESE DIRECTIONS, you will stop fighting. Your sanity will be restored. You will react sanely and normally. And all of this will happen automatically.
64. It continues, "You will see that your new attitude toward liquor" or toward hurting yourself and others "has been given you without any thought or effort on your part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it."
65. We can't change our own attitudes. We don't have that ability. Working the Recoveries Anonymous program, working these steps, produces an attitude change automatically. It is literally a miracle.
66. The next sentence says, "You are not fighting it, neither are you avoiding temptation."
67. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"I spent my entire life fighting my problems and behaviors, and trying to avoid temptation. Then I read this passage from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. I realized that the pioneers recovered by following this path. I realized that they didn't fight their problems and behaviors or avoid temptation. Therefore, if I duplicated their path, I would also duplicate their result. This promise became another reason for me to follow their 'clear-cut directions.' "
68. It continues by saying, "You feel as though you had been placed in a position of neutrality. You feel safe and protected."
69. Many of R.A.'s members share that this is exactly how they feel once they've worked these steps and stopped fighting. It no longer matters what they eat or don't eat, what they drink or don't drink, what chances they take or don't take, where their emotions are—whether they're depressed or elated, because whatever is happening, they feel safe and protected.
70. The next sentence continues by saying that, "You have not even sworn off."
71. One of R.A.'s members shares about the tremendous impact this short phrase had for him:
"My entire life had been one session of swearing off after another, and then almost immediately swearing back on again.
"When I read that line, I recognized that the promise it held was one of hope, sanity, and recovery. Then, as strong as that statement was, he recognized that the next sentence was even stronger!"
72. It not only promised that he would not need to swear off, but it also stated that "Instead, the problem has been removed."
73. And then as strong as those two statements were, he recognized that for the pioneers, they weren't strong enough, because the pioneers added the next line. It states that, "It does not exist for you."
74. The pioneers promised that someone who followed this course of action would have the problem removed to the extent that it no longer existed. And then they continue by further promising that "You are neither cocky, nor are you afraid."
75. Many of us have heard people, both in and out of program, share that they've got this thing licked. They say that their problems and behaviors are never going to bother them again. They say that they don't have to worry about it anymore. They say that they can do what they feel like, that they believe they're cured. That's being cocky.
76. Many of us have also heard other people share that they're living in fear of their problems or behaviors; that they're afraid that if they don't rigidly control their lives, if they don't discipline themselves, they're going to hurt themselves or others.
77. Yet the pioneers stated that they were neither cocky nor were they afraid, and they promised that this would happen for us, too.
78. This next sentence is a very important one. It says, "That is our experience."
79. Experience, not hope, not dream, not desire, not projection. This is a detailed accounting of their experience; what had already happened for them and what they promised would happen for you.
80. But there is a condition, they say, "That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."
81. This is the difference between being recovered and being cured. If we were cured, it would mean that we didn't have to take any further action to maintain that condition. Being recovered means that we do need to continue working the R.A. program in order to maintain a fit spiritual condition, and thus stay recovered.
82. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, continuing with the first paragraph on page 39, it says:
"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on your laurels. You are headed for trouble if you do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve. Every day is a day when you have to carry the vision of God’s will into all of your activities. "How can I best serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with you constantly. You can exercise your will power along this line all you wish. It is the proper use of the will."
83. It's easy to get well enough to forget how we got well. When we stop doing what got us well—if we don't put God first in our lives by helping others, meeting their needs, and by treating others with love and tolerance—we can lose our fit spiritual condition.
84. Once again please notice the "clear-cut directions." Also note that if they say that this is the proper use of the will, then, by implication, any other uses would probably be improper. Exercising our will to say "Thy will (not mine) be done," asking Him, "How can I best serve Thee," is THE proper use.
85. The next paragraph continues:
"Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If you have carefully followed directions, you have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into you. To some extent you have become God-conscious. You have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But you must go further and that means more action."
86. In R.A., we usually talk about a God of your own understanding. However, the pioneers actually do define God to a certain extent. At this point they are defining God as being all-powerful and having all knowledge. You do not have to accept this concept, but a God that does not have all knowledge and all power probably will not serve the same function in this program as would a concept of an all-powerful, all-knowledgeable God.
87. So, if you do not have that understanding of God, this is perhaps something to consider and perhaps strive for. This may be something that needs to be developed or that you may need to seek direction and guidance about, from whatever concept of God you presently do have.
88. A less than all-powerful God, by most definitions, simply would not be God.
89. Once again the "clear-cut directions" say that if we have carefully followed them to this point, we have started to get some very specific results. We have started to become God-conscious. We have started to become aware of the presence of a Power greater than ourselves.
90. The final thought in this paragraph says, "But you must go further and that means more action."
91. This action is described in the first sentence of the next paragraph. It says, "Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation."
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.