Back To The Basics Of Recovery Guidance: Step Ten

By Wally P.

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

Many A.A. pioneers described Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve as the Guidance Steps. In Step Ten, we are guided to take Steps Four through Nine on a daily basis. In Step Eleven, we follow the guidance we receive upon awakening and throughout the day. In Step Twelve, we let the “One who has all power” guide us as we work with others.

The key to the Tenth Step is the word “continue.” In the second paragraph on page 84, the “Big Book” authors emphasize the importance of continuing to take the Steps.

“This . . . 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. . . ”

Please note that in this paragraph, the “Big Book” authors dramatically change their sense of urgency with regard to the steps. Until this point, the authors have used words such as, “next,” “at once,” “promptly,” and “we waste no time” to stress the importance of taking the first nine steps in a couple of hours. Now they tell us we are to practice the Guidance steps daily for the rest of our lives.

“We have entered the world of the Spirit,” provides us with an amazing revelation. Basically, the authors have just told us we have already experienced a spiritual transformation as the direct result of taking Steps One through Nine. Because we have done “certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in (our) way of living and thinking.”

Instead of remaining imprisoned by “a hundred forms of fear, self delusion, self-seeking and self-pity,” we have been set free by of our “consciousness of the Presence of God.” As the “Big Book” authors write, “Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”

Some of these activities are described in the next three sentences on page 84. Here the “Big Book” authors present a clear and concise summary of the activities associated with the inventory and restitution process. Because they are reexamining Steps Four through Nine, they again emphasize the need to do this work “at once,” “immediately,” and “quickly.”

“. . . 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. . . ”

Let’s recap what the “Big Book” authors have just written. “When these crop up (the Step Four liabilities of selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear), we ask God at once to remove them (Steps Six and Seven). We discuss them with someone immediately (Step Five), and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone (Steps Eight and Nine).”

The next two sentences provide additional insight into our new way of living.

“. . . Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.”

Assisting others through the Steps solidifies our own recovery. As we will learn in Step Twelve, “nothing will so much insure immunity from (relapse) as intensive work with other(s).”

Together, these five sentences hold the key to the spiritual solution to our problems. We now know precisely what we have to do to stay in “the sunlight of the Spirit.”

James H., an A.A. pioneer from the 1930’s, used to describe this transition from the problem to the solution with these words: “We can live in the past and make excuses or live in the present and make a difference. The choice is ours.”

By choosing to take the Steps and by choosing “love and tolerance” as our code, we will make a difference, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of “countless others.” We will also experience miracles beyond our wildest dreams.

One of these miracles is the assurance that, if we practice these spiritual activities on a daily basis, we will overcome all our difficulties. In the third paragraph on page 84, the authors write:

“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 have not even sworn off. Instead the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. . . . That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”

What a message of hope! The “problem has been removed.” Now, all we
have to do is maintain our “fit spiritual condition.”

How do we do this? By taking a daily inventory. What is our reward? A daily reprieve.

The directions for taking the Tenth Step are in the second paragraph on page 84. The Tenth Step question reads:

“Will you continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as you go along?”

If you can answer in the affirmative, you have taken Step Ten. Next session, we will look at Step Eleven, which has to do with prayer and meditation. Some A.A. pioneers called this process “two-way prayer,” which consists of talking and listening to the “God-consciousness within.”

Wally P. is an archivist, historian and author who, for more than twenty-three years, has been studying the origins and growth of the Twelve-step movement. He is the caretaker for the personal archives of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith. Wally conducts history presentations and recovery workshops, including “Back to the Basics of Recovery” in which he takes attendees through all Twelve Steps in four, one-hour sessions. More than 500,000 have taken the Steps using this powerful, time-tested, and highly successful “original” program of action.