Big Book Recovery
Working the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous

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Step Ten

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

Reading: pages 84-85.

We continue to take inventory (as in Step Four) and continue to make amends if we harm anyone (as in Steps Eight and Nine). We began our daily Step-10 inventory when we started our Step Four inventory, “We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past.” {p84}. We do the “spot check” inventory where we write down resentments when they occur to save them persisting. As part of Step 11 (see later) we review our day. Any resentments or fears that arise from this are subjected to a Step-10 analysis. To emphasise the point that we must keep doing this the book says: “This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for a lifetime.”{p84}.

If we are unsure as to the action “We discuss them with someone immediately and we make amends quickly if we have harmed someone.” This statement emphasises the need for continued sponsorship.

One thing to watch for: occasionally, people feel that they now ought to be so “spiritual” that they shouldn’t get resentments. This leads to a reluctance to acknowledge them and as a consequence they stop doing daily Step 10s. To avoid this it is important to stress that we do not have a choice over whether or not we get resentments. We will get them. We can’t help the thoughts that come into our heads so we can take neither credit nor blame for the good or bad nature of those thoughts. However, once we have resentments, we can choose — keep them and suffer, or take inventory and be free of them. We also have a choice in the actions we take as a response to those thoughts. Some refer to this in meetings by saying that they are not responsible for the first thought that comes into their heads, but they are responsible for the second and the third and the fourth and so on. So it is clear, we must keep doing Step 10s. “It is easy to 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 have is a daily reprieve contingent upon maintenance of our spiritual condition.” {p85}.

Once we are through Step Five, there is usually nothing to be gained from reading out the written Step 10s to our sponsors. If we find that resentments won’t go even if we do inventory, then it is often because we are still not taking responsibility for how we feel. We want to blame the other person rather than accept that we are reacting defectively. Praying for honesty will help us here. Also, doing inventory with the Affects-My column, as described in Step Four, may help as it will act as a “stepping stone” that will turn our attention fully to the real cause of our problems — defects of character. Anything that is particularly embarrassing or humiliating (using prostitutes, for example) are common exceptions to the former rule and should be referred to a sponsor. The same may be true for any vexing and repeated patterns of bad behaviour.

Prayers for Step 10

The prayers used in Step 4 are repeated here. So first of all, resentments against people:

“ Please God help me to show this person the same tolerance, pity and patience that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend.”{p63}

Prayer for fears:

“ Please God remove my fear and direct my attention to what You would have me be.”{p68}

Step 10 prayer if we have done something wrong (recommended in the description of nightly inventory):

“ God please forgive me and show me what corrective measures I should take.{p86}

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