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V Broaden and Deepen Your Understanding of the Twelve Steps
 
10) Step Ten
Broaden and deepen your understanding of Step Ten.
 
 


STEP TEN

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."

1. It was suggested that you pre-read all of the pages devoted to Step Ten from the 12 & 12.

2. Please remember that we don'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.

3. In the 12 & 12 on page 88, starting with the first paragraph on the page. It says:

"As we work the first nine Steps, we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life. 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."

4. The first nine Steps are the preparation for our new way of life. In the first nine Steps we begin to put our lives in order. The first nine Steps are the prelude; they start the process. Each one of these first nine steps is a beginning. To accent this point we are going to highlight some sentences from the 12 & 12, and the Multilith Big Book.

5. In the 12 & 12, on page 21, in the third paragraph of the chapter about the First Step, the second sentence says:

"We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength."

6. In the chapter about the Second Step, on page 26, in the middle of the third full paragraph, it says:

"First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions. Second, to get sober and to stay sober, you don't have to swallow all of Step Two right now. Looking back, I find that I took it piecemeal myself."

7. In the chapter about Step Three on page 35, in the first full paragraph, starting with the fifth line, it says:

"Fortunately, we who have tried it, and with equal misgivings, can testify that anyone, anyone at all, can begin to do it. We can further add that a beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed."

8. In the Multilith Big Book on page 32, in the middle of the second paragraph, it says:

"You have made your decision. You have made an inventory of the grosser handicaps you have. You have made a good beginning."

9. In the 12 & 12, on page 50, in the second full paragraph, the first sentence, says:

"Since Step Four is but the beginning of a lifetime practice..."

10. In the 12 & 12, on page 57, three lines from the bottom of the page, it says:

"Step Five was the answer. It was the beginning of true kinship with man and God.

This vital Step was also the means by which we began to get the feeling that we could be forgiven, no matter what we had thought or done."

11. In the 12 & 12 chapter about the Sixth Step on page 65, the last full paragraph on the page, says:

"So Step Six—'were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character' is A.A.'s way of stating the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job."

12. In the 12 & 12 chapter about the Seventh Step, on page 75, in the second full paragraph, starting with the third sentence, it says:

"We began to get over the idea that the Higher Power was a sort of bush-league pinch hitter, to be called upon only in an emergency. The notion that we would still live our own lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate."

13. In the 12 & 12 chapter about the Eighth Step on page 77, in the second paragraph, the second sentence says:

"It is a task which we may perform with increasing skill, but never really finish."

14. And in the 12 & 12 chapter about Step Nine, on page 83, the bottom paragraph, starting with the first sentence, it says:

"Most of us begin making certain kinds of direct amends from the day we join Alcoholics Anonymous. The moment we tell our families that we are really going to try the program, the process has begun."

15. These highlights accent the point that the first nine steps are a beginning. The Tenth Step is where we continue the process begun by each of the first nine steps. The problem is that people sometimes look at the steps as a progression. When we look at them as a progression, it seems logical that each step has to be done perfectly, completed before moving on to the next.

16. How can you perfectly complete something that is supposed to only be a beginning? The answer is obvious. You need to just make a start, a beginning. You perfect it, you complete it, as the result of living the rest of the Steps.

17. Sometimes we hear things that may cause confusion. For instance, occasionally we'll hear people say that they do a daily Fourth Step or that they didn't do their Fourth Step well enough and they have to go back and do it again. What they are really doing is a continuation of their inventory as part of the Tenth Step.

18. In the 12 & 12, on page 89 in the first full paragraph, at the end of the fifth line from the bottom of the paragraph, it says:

"Many A.A.'s go in for annual or semiannual housecleanings."

19. The annual or semiannual housecleaning is a part of the Tenth Step. It's not a redoing of the Fourth Step, which was merely the beginning of a lifetime practice.

20. In the next paragraph, the second sentence says:

"Must A.A.'s spend most of their waking hours drearily rehashing their sins of omission or commission? Well, hardly. The emphasis on inventory is heavy only because a great many of us have never really acquired the habit of accurate self-appraisal."

21. One of R.A.'s members shares:

My perceptions, when I came into program, were so distorted by my character defects that I couldn't accurately see my relationship to the world. I couldn't accurately perceive what was taking place in my life. I couldn't see the people I had hurt; I didn't see my character defects as harmful.

22. By working the Tenth Step, which also involves talking things over with people, he was able to have things put in perspective. He could see where his perceptions of the situation had been accurate or not.

23. The benefit gained is that we acquire a habit of accurate self-appraisal. By being exposed to sane people we begin to perceive what sanity is. In talking to sane people who live a recovered life, we begin to see the scope of the program. We begin to recognize the limitless capabilities of an all-powerful God.

24. Many of us, when we came into program, had no problem identifying with the negatives. We could easily see and identify with the pain and the suffering. However we had a very difficult time identifying with the solution. Using the inventory to identify with the solution is a valid part of this process.

25. In the 12 & 12, on page 90, the start of the second full paragraph says:

"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."

26. It may be understandable to become angry when someone hurts us. The situation may be one that normally produces anger. Being human, we're going to experience the full range, the normal range, of human emotions. This includes anger and resentment.

27. As a part of this program, we have now been given a way to deal with these normal emotions appropriately. We can recognize that when someone hurts us, it's because they, like ourselves, are not well. So, we now ask God to remove our anger. That's an appropriate reaction.

28. Skipping a sentence from the last highlight, it says:

"What about 'justifiable' anger?"

29. We can't afford to hold on to anger and resentment. Even though we know that holding on to anger and resentment only hurts us, we sometimes rationalize that this time we're entitled to hold on to them. When we recognize that holding on to anger and resentment only ends with us hurting ourselves and others, and hinders our usefulness to God and to others, we can then become willing to ask God to remove these defects. We can trust that whatever may remain of these defects, is going to be responded to in an appropriate manner. It is not going to hinder our usefulness to God or our fellows.

30. In the 12 & 12, on page 90, starting with the last two words on the page, it says:

"The consideration of long-standing difficulties had better be postponed, when possible, to times deliberately set aside for that purpose. 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."

31. For some people, the daily inventory is an overwhelming roadblock. This is because they equate it to doing a Fourth Step inventory on a daily basis. That's not what it is. It's a relatively quick inventory, a pause for reflection. It is a time to see how our behavior has affected others, a time to see how our relationship with God has enhanced our lives.

32. The look at long-standing difficulties should be postponed to a time when we can do a longer, more detailed examination of them, perhaps in an annual or semiannual inventory.

33. In the 12 & 12, on page 91, in the first full paragraph, it says:

"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."

34. We need to remember that these instructions are an extension of those in the Multilith Big Book. The self-restraint, the honesty, the willingness, the serenity must come from God. These are ideals that we ask God to lead us toward as we work the Twelve Steps.

35. On page 91, continuing with the next sentence, it says:

"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."

36. We are fallible human beings. We are not saints. We are not going to do this perfectly; we don't have to. There might be days when we forget to take our daily inventory. When we do remember, we do it. We are striving toward progress, not toward perfection.

37. On page 92, in the second full paragraph, at the end of the fourth line, it says:

"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."

38. When we recognize that the people who do things that hurt us do them because they, like ourselves, are not well, we see that it's pointless to argue, to become angry, or to become resentful.

39. An ideal of the program is to reach a point where we recognize the source of someone's actions, AS someone is doing something that would previously have evoked anger or resentment. We can then pray that we NOT give their actions, their comments, their behavior the weight that we once would have. When we can do this, we do not even need to ask to have our anger and resentment removed because it simply would not arise.

40. That's an ideal that we can look toward, but may never reach. We probably will always have some degree of anger and resentment cropping up. However, we can recognize the ideal. We can ask God to lead us toward it.

41. In the 12 & 12, on page 93, the first full paragraph, says:

"We can try to stop making unreasonable demands upon those we love. 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."

42. When we go through the process of the Twelve Steps, we begin to recognize that the people who have done things to hurt us did them because they're not well. Well people don't hurt other people. Well people don't decide to hurt other people.

43. Expecting someone who is not well to react sanely and normally is an unreasonable demand. It's unreasonable to expect sane behavior from someone who is not well. If he had the ability to react sanely and normally, he would.

44. We need to make allowances for the limitations of the people in our lives. We need to stop making unreasonable demands upon them. We can't expect people to fulfill our demands, or even our desires.

45. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"I became upset when someone I was sponsoring was supposed to call at specific times, but frequently didn't. I soon came to realize that if this person could call at a specific time, he would. I recognized that I was making an unreasonable demand upon someone who was not well. If the person I was sponsoring had the discipline to call when he was supposed to, he would probably also have enough discipline to not hurt himself or others. He would not need the program."

46. In the 12 & 12, on page 93, skipping a sentence from the last highlight, to the next paragraph, in the middle of the third line, it says:

"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?'"

47. Asking for whatever direction and guidance we can, while taking whatever actions we can, is a vital part of this process. Trying to act on that direction and guidance, trying to live a spiritual life, is a vital part of this process.

48. The Golden Rule says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." One of R.A.'s suggested books is The Art of Selfishness, by David Seabury. It is a book that Dr. Bob used to recommend. Part of this book talks about the misapplication of this Golden Rule.

49. Many people try to do for others what they wish had been done for them. They try to do that, for the other person, to the extent that they would want it done if it was being done for them. The problem is that what they do for the other person may not be what the other person wants or needs.

50. A more accurate way of using the Golden Rule would be to do unto others what they need, or want, to the extent that we would like it done for ourselves if we wanted what they want for ourselves. Trying to fulfill their needs to the extent that we would like those needs filled for us if we were them.

51. Most of us don't take into account what the other person would like. We simply make a presumption of what's good for them. When they wind up rejecting our efforts, we begin to feel angry, frustrated, and resentful.

52. If, however, we try to fill their needs, to the same extent that we would like our needs filled, the result is usually far more positive.

53. In the 12 & 12, on page 93, in the bottom paragraph, in the middle of the fourth line, it says:

"It's a poor day indeed when we haven't done something right."

54. We need to remember that no matter what the day has brought us, there was something positive in it—we got out of bed, we got dressed—we did something right. We need to have acceptance and tolerance of not only the people around us, but of ourselves, too.

55. In the 12 & 12, on page 94, in the first full paragraph, in the middle of the third line, it says:

"In most cases our motives won't be hard to see and understand."

56. With guidance and direction from our Higher Power, by talking to a sponsor or Friends in program, we can usually recognize our motives. We can see those times when we were doing for others only so that they would do something for us. We can usually recognize those times when we were giving to others only to obligate them.

57. Then too, we can see where we might be like the child who bought his parents a toy for Christmas because he wanted to play with it. If we take a moment, we can usually see our motive.

58. Our program calls for the type of giving that demands no reward. In the giving of ourselves to others we find ourselves.

59. Once again, the Tenth Step gives us a time for reflection on our lives. The daily inventory is not just a look at the negatives; it's also a look at the positives. It's our opportunity to reflect on how God is working in our lives. It's a time when we get to see how God is using us as a channel. It's a time to reflect on how we can further do His will.

60. In the 12 & 12, on page 95, in the middle of the top line, it says:

"Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character-building and good living. An honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek."

61. The Tenth Step is where we look for these ideals, these permanent assets.

62. Just for today the pioneers of the program could deal with the negatives in their lives. Just for today they didn't worry about getting drunk. Just for today they could deal with being depressed.

63. One of R.A.'s members shares:

When I began to understand and use THIS concept of "just for today" in my life, things began to happen. I could begin to see that if the negatives in my life had never lasted the rest of my life the last time I had them; the chances were that they aren't going to last the rest of my life when I have them again.

64. He shares that the only thing that allows him to have that recognition, is by not living just one day at a time. If he doesn't take the past into account, each time he gets depressed, he's going to think he's going to be depressed for the rest of his life.

65. He needs to draw upon yesterday, and remember that the last time he was depressed, it didn't last the rest of his life. Therefore the chances are that today's depression is not going to last the rest of his life either. The recognition that the pioneers didn't think about the program as being only one day at a time has opened up a whole new universe to him.

66. They use the word "permanent" many places in the Multilith Big Book and the 12 & 12. And they use it here on page 95. We just read, "a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek."

67. They accepted that, for them, the program was permanent. They wrote about a permanent recovery. They felt that so long as they were doing the things they were doing today, and thought the way they were thinking today, that they would never take another drink. They didn't live in fear of the future. They used their experience from the past, to project a positive future.

68. They knew they had recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body by God's grace. And God wasn't just for today. They had a perfect right to expect that if God had been there last year, and last month, and last week, and yesterday, that God would be there tomorrow, and next week, and next month, and next year. They could depend upon that Power greater than themselves, who they trusted to be there for them. This freed them from the fear, from the bondage that they had lived in.

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