This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book" by AAWS. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.
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What happens during Step 10 of AA? How does the 10th Step inventory help you prepare for ongoing sobriety and recovery?
Step 10 of AA starts the phase of recovery in which you look forward. You have to constantly keep working on your sobriety in order to maintain it.
Learn more about Step 10 of AA, including the 10th Step inventory.
Looking Forward Starting With Step 10 of AA
Having overcome your past, in Step 10 of AA through Step 12 you continue into the future, seeking to continue improving yourself and becoming an agent of good by helping others.
Step 10 of AA
“We continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”
Recovery is an ongoing process, not a one-time step. Old habits die hard, and at times you’ll slip into your old behavior. If you allow resentment to build up, they’ll balloon into major problems, and you’ll experience a setback.
From now on, if you make a mistake, promptly admit it and make amends. This ongoing correction uses the 10th Step inventory to account for pain points.
Continue to watch yourself for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. If they come up, ask your higher power at once to remove them. Discuss them with someone immediately, and make amends quickly. Then turn your thoughts to someone you can help.
If you get agitated or doubtful during the day, ask for the right thought or action. This ongoing correction is the purpose of Step 10 of AA.
On Your Relationship With Alcohol
Over time, you’ll realize you’re seldom interested in liquor. You haven’t been fighting temptation. Instead, the problem has been removed. You feel safe and protected.
Don’t get complacent about your recovery. “We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”
Do you have to avoid every place that has liquor? No, not if you have a good reason for going to the place, other than stealing pleasure from the atmosphere.
As a recovering alcoholic, don’t proselytize to others and adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. Don’t show intolerance of drinking as an institution—this attitude isn’t helpful to anyone.
“We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
After Step 10 of AA, you think about your life’s plan. In Step 11, you discover the plan that your higher power has for you, and you gain the will to carry it out.
For spiritual people, this step often involves prayer and meditation. For secular people, this involves stopping and reflecting on your thoughts.
Here’s a simple way of implementing Step 11:
- At the end of the day, review your day constructively. Did you have any shortcomings, like being resentful, afraid, or selfish? Do you need to make amends to anyone? Were you kind towards all? What could you have done better?
- Don’t drift into worry or morbid reflection—this will diminish your usefulness to others. Ask for forgiveness and ask what corrective measures need be taken.
- The next day, on waking, plan your day. Don’t feel any self-pity and don’t have any selfish motives. Pray that you’ll be shown all day what your next step is to be, that you’ll be given whatever you need to take care of such problems.
As you complete these steps, you will feel renewed. Fear and insecurity will leave; ability and peace will replace them. “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
A major part of the AA program is to reach out to other alcoholics and to help them recover as you had recovered.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book summary:
- How alcoholism is a nearly insurmountable disease that non-alcoholics can't understand
- The key 12 steps of the program, and why they work
- Why Alcoholics Anonymous isn't a cult and why it works