10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
Step 10 is a relatively short reading within ‘Into Action’ in the Big Book and one paragraph sums things up:
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.p.84 Alcoholics Anonymous
The way I currently work step 10 is split into a few different parts, firstly (and probably most famously) a written nightly inventory to review our day.
There’s no set structure on how to actually write your inventory, I imagine this varies hugely from person to person. I took guidance from my sponsor on how to lay things out and have since made small changes on the structure as it allows me to better frame my mindset and writing.
I personally type our my inventory and send it to my sponsor through Whatsapp, however some people use mobile apps, others send over email and some prefer to write by hand. However you write and structure your inventory the end result is the same. It’s about an honest review of our days’ thinking and actions…
For difficult situations during the day when I can’t wait until my nightly inventory, I’ll find myself sometimes doing a “mini step 10”. This could be looking at a situation and doing a “step 4” in my own head around the situation. If a situation, person, place or thing throws me off balance I find doing this (either written using my Step 4 columns or mentally if I can’t write things down at the time) really helpful as part of my inventory for the day. Ultimately I need to look at what’s happened, my part in things, whether I’ve done the next right thing and whether or not I need to look to make any amends for the situation.
This brings us to the second part of the step, promptly admitting when we are wrong and being swift to make amends. After all the work we did in Steps 8 and 9 to clear the wreckage of our past, we need to practice this honesty as much as we can, doing so keeps our side of the street clean each and every day so we remain in top spiritual condition.
If I make a mistake at home or loose my temper and say something I shouldn’t at work, I need to apologise and look to make things right as soon as I possibly can, not doing this threatens my sobriety by letting my dishonesty and fears take over in my day to day life. When that happens a drink or a drug is only a short distance away.
As with everything, I’m far from perfect with this. There have been times I’ve been perfectly happy with life and have deliberately avoided doing my nightly inventory. On other occasions I’ve been lazy, writing the bare minimum in order to get things done so I can get back to whatever I was binging on Netflix.
Recently after some internal reflection I realised that I had actually been dishonest with myself in my inventory for a week or so. My daily writing was all about being fine, which was dishonest in itself. I was trying to avoid difficult situations and feelings which only came back to cause me more spiritual distress further down the line.
It’s all about honesty, and as always, progress not perfection.