“and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it” – illustration Liv12StepsofRecovery
Autumn returns to us in 2014. Let’s set the mood for today’s Step Work. Open another window and get today’s music playing, then come back and read with a gentle background: http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3Z_wX0jYJc
The Tenth Step: ” We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Perhaps we can implore our GOMU (God of my understanding) for inspiration, strength and solace in our moments of doubt, but we’ll have to learn how to take care of ourselves — mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually: ” Doin The Footwork”.
Okay, how about we take a look at what our primary author has to say in “The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous” concerning the 10th Step and it’s working in the Third Edition, copyrighted by AAWS in 1976:
“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 turned our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone—even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. 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 liquor 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 our experience. That is how we react as long as we keep ourselves 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 alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day in which we must carry the vision of God’s will into all our activities. “How can I best serve thee–Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are the thoughts that must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line as long as we wish. It is the proper use of the will.
Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.”
“If you’ve never read the “Big Books” 4 paragraph synopsis of Step Ten, here’s a surprise: “You just did”. The following link is for you to access a download or bookmark the latest 4th edition version, courtesy of AAWS: http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/alcoholics-anonymous
Tens if not hundreds of thousands of AA’s, NA’s and other types of addicted people have read this as well, while underlining, highlighting and picking out their favorite phrases; ones in which they found important personal meaning; ones in which they felt the rush of a “spiritual wind” or the chime of a bell of understanding. I must admit that even now, I again find some resonance, don’t you?
Then in 1953, after the Second World War, Roosevelt’s New Deal and AA having almost twenty years under its belt, he wrote the 12×12. If you don’t have a copy and would like to read the entire work, here it is courtesy of AAWS in Pdf, the First Edition: http://www.aatricitiestn.org/images/TheTRY_THIS_12-Steps_and_12_traditions-1.pdf Go right to page 88 and you’ll get the full Tenth Step Essay; akin to the original from the Big Book but much more entailed and practical, with more emphasis on a behavioral approach to recovery using inventory as a technique and having self-restraint as the goal.
Available in NOOK/KINDLE eBooks or in signed print
If you’d like it broken into daily meditations and inspirational essays for both the Tenth Step and Tenth Tradition, see my book: http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/available in signed original softback from the site or you can also get it in eBook on KINDLE & NOOK. Now,………. let’s see how the Step changed between the Big Book in 1935 and the 12X12 in 1953…..
New Website Address: www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com
This initial question is imposed. He calls it the Acid Test:
“can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance and live to good purpose under all conditions”?
Self-searching needs to become a regular habit we will do so using a tried and true 12 Step Principle — Inventory. Here are some types:
- The Spot check. Taken anytime we feel an emotional hangover coming on and its excesses of negative feelings: anger, fear and jealousy.You can probably think of a number of your own regular knee jerk reactions. We’re trying to change these into a measured, calculated and considered responses.
- Review with our sponsor or spiritual confidant. We can make a careful review of our progress since our last analysis. Having the insight of another who has a detached outside view gives us a fresh perspective on considerations we may have overlooked.
- Day’s End Review. In our evening reflection we measure both what went right and wrong that day, and rather than chastising ourselves for our errors ( we are human, you know?) we account for them, noting what we could have done differently and give ourselves credit for a job well done when appropriate.
- Annual or semiannual housecleaning. This inventory might be conducted at a recovery retreat; an occasional respite from the outside world where we can calm down and focus in an undisturbed day of self-overhaul and meditation. Speaking of that, how about a little more background music, hmmmm? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oQC62BpHGY
“Good Job Selfie”
So What’s the Point?
Reflection is not an objective unto itself here. First, we are trying to use our inventory skills to establish a new default in our behavior and attitude reactions. Remember: the Acid Test: “can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance and live to good purpose under all conditions”? The priorities seems right to me. As always, our primary objective is to stay sober. Next, we ought to seek emotional balance. We see the world through spiritual insight; thewindows of our feelings, the filters to our souls. And they are: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy and Surprise. In all of us at times, they will run rampant. Emotional balance is an acquired skill set, one in which we will use regular inventory as a part of achieving. This will not be a “I read it and got it” situation. It’s going to take practice – a lifetime of it – for us to change our old reactions and presets of anger, pessimism, bitterness and cynicism; our melancholy sulking and scorn before we can make an instinctive response of thinking before we act. Now,……let’s talk about the acquiring self control part of Step Ten.
Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint
We know this to be a statement of truth: It is a spiritual axiom that “every time we are disturbed there is something wrong with US”!
The original author suggests that if somebody hurts us and we are irritated ( the doorway to anger, rage and frenzy ) we are in the wrong also. Uhhhhhh,….maybe. Our anger is a primordial instinctive reaction in self-preservation( thought the alarm often trips without good cause). This triggers as an instinctive response of the Id. (REF:Id – Ego Super-ego )
Remember how he asked us to examine ourselves in Step IV? He asked us to measure how we felt we had been injured by others we resented that we were angry with, asking if it upon examination we found it was because we were injured by irrational emotional responses of Fear, Pride, the protection of our Personal and Sexual Relations, attempts that threatened our Self-Esteem or material Security.
Though we ALWAYS want to check our motives to make sure we are not disguising our error with justified blame or anger, we may not be in the wrong at all, but our reaction could place us in a position of error, when we are on the verge of losing our rationality, our self-control or our emotional composure, even if we might falsely feel justified (or actually be so).
After we’ve lost it. It’s to late.
- When we feel it coming on, we pause, counting to ten or even 100; we breath deeply and ask ourselves these all important questions: Why and with whom am I upset?
- Is this the REAL reason for my anger?
- How important is this,……………. in all honesty?
- If we are going to change using Step 10, we will need to concede that we are not responding, but “knee-jerk” reacting.
- Thinking it through, have we some role, some participation in this problem which could be construed as contributory negligence? Here in his 12×12 our author is “spot on” in his suggestion: “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.” Nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue. We ought to work towards avoiding quick-tempered criticism and furious power driven argument. No more of our sulking in a silent scorn. It’s all about taking the time to step back from the incident, developing a habit of doing so needs to be practiced until it becomes as automatic as Pavlov’s Dog and The Dinner Bell. “We can stop making unreasonable demands on those we love. We can show kindness where we had showed none. We have found Courtesy, kindness, justice and Love are the keynotes by which we may come into harmony with practically anybody.” “Learning daily to spot, admit and correct our flaws is the essence of character building, good living and the primary purpose of Step Ten. No matter when our inventory is completed, we will want to develop “An honest and humble regret for our harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better form tomorrow.” That’s it for this installment my fellow 12 Steppers. As you can see there were serious elaborations between the Big Book and the 12×12, demonstrating a tremendous growth and arrival of a practical perspective. We can only hope that with our earnest effort, we will find similar growth in our own experience. The development of self-restraint by using our favorite form of reflection – inventory – will lead us all to a happier emotional and spiritual life. But it will take, what I like to call, the Five P’s of Recovery: