This is the tenth in a series of posts in which we hope to acquaint our readers with some of the details surrounding the programs that we recommend. There are a variety of other programs, but because we and most other facilities shape our treatment plans around the 12 Step fellowships, those are the ones on which we will concentrate.
Step 10 reads: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
The principle behind Step 10 is perseverance.
Addiction is more than the compulsion to use alcohol and other drugs. Over time, we adjust our thoughts, our ethics, our relationships, and our ways of looking at the world in order to accommodate the necessity of getting high. Recovery is about changing those things. During the first nine Steps, we dealt with the reality of our past and its effects on ourselves and others. We worked hard on our recovery, traveled a long path, and — except for one thing — the hardest parts are behind us. That one thing is making sure that we don’t fall back into our old ways of thinking and behaving.
In AA, they have a saying: “When you sober up a horse thief, all you get is a better horse thief.” Unless we have progressed through the steps, genuinely and carefully, we run the risk of either losing their benefits or simply avoiding many of them in the first place. Only after sobriety has become a habit do we really gain all of its gifts. Only then are we truly “happy, joyous and free.”
Step 10 is about turning sobriety into a habit and keeping it that way. To begin with, many of us sat down at the end of the day and actually wrote out a brief inventory of the day, perhaps in our journal. We listed both the skillful and unskillful ways that we handled situations, and considered our part in any controversy and how we might have handled things better.
We might have fallen back into an arrogant attitude at work, might have avoided responsibilities, might have had an argument with a spouse or co-worker, might have been unkind or thoughtless when dealing with a child. Whatever it is, we look honestly at our part in it, and we do what we have to do — we make it right. We make these little amends sincerely, and we do it before the situation worsens. That avoids developing resentments, which are much harder to deal with.
If we carry out these little exercises consistently, we find that being honest with ourselves and admitting our mistakes becomes easier. After a time, we find that we apply our new personal standards to things before they happen. We think about better ways to handle situations, instead of just reacting with our old addict instincts.
Finally, over time, our new ways of dealing with life become new instincts, and we move out of the world of early recovery into the realm of genuine sobriety.