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Step 10 begins laying the foundation for the rest of my life. It is a pledge to continually monitor my life with honesty and humility. It requires me to be vigilant against my addictive behavior and against the triggers for my addictive behavior. It requires me to be humble before my God who can keep me from my addictive behavior if I have the right attitude. It requires me to deal with my defects promptly when they arise and not to let them linger in my life.From 12Step.org
The emphasis on inventory is heavy only because a great many of us have never really acquired the habit of accurate self-appraisal. Once this healthy practice has been groomed, it will be so interesting and profitable that the time it takes won't be missed. For these minutes and sometimes hours spent in self-examination are bound to make all the other hours of our day better and happier. And at length our inventories become a regular part of everyday living, rather than unusual or set apart.Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 89-90
Steps 10, 11, and 12 are sometimes called the maintenance steps. They repeat many of the points outlined in previous steps, but they emphasize the value of continuing to "work the steps" on a day-to-day basis.
Step 10 encourages the taking of a personal inventory, which, for recovering persons, should be a daily process...
Our daily inventory certainly needs to assess the status of our relationship with God. Are we still yielding our will to Him? Bill Wilson emphasized how crucial this evaluation is, especially for addictive personalities, which tend to be willful. Our need to surrender ourselves to God on a daily basis will go on throughout our lives, and we shall explore the means of that continuing spiritual surrender in Step 11.Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 67, 69
The Tenth Step can be a pressure relief valve. We work this step while the day's ups and downs are still fresh in our minds. We list what we have done and try not to rationalize our actions. This may be done in writing at the end of the day. The first thing we do is stop! Then we take the time to allow ourselves the privilege of thinking. We examine our actions, our reactions, and our motives. We often find that we've been "doing" better than we've been "feeling". This allows us to find out where we have gone wrong and admit fault before things get any worse. We need to avoid rationalizing. We promptly admit our faults, not explain them.
We work this step continuously. This is a prevention, and the more we do it, the less we will need the corrective part of this step. This is really a great tool. It gives us a way of avoiding grief before we bring it on ourselves. We monitor our feelings, our emotions, our fantasies, and our actions. By constantly looking at these things we may be able to avoid repeating the actions that make us feel bad.Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 10
Step Ten is a spiritual pocket computer to help us keep tabs on our behavior today and a cleanser to help keep our spiritual lenses clean. In this method of keeping an inventory every day, we ask ourselves questions like, Which of my character defects popped up as uninvited guests today? Am I using the tools of the program? Am I praying? Am I thanking God for all the good things he has done for me this day, and for any positive things he's freed me to do? ...
The reason this is so important is that the Sin-disease, which its denial and delusion, is always hovering "just a decision away" to throw us back into fear and confusion. Its tactics are to convince us in various ways, "You're 'well' now and don't need a stupid program to lead a normal life. You can and should operate on your own as a mature adult." The disease's "strategy" often works like this: When we begin to feel a little secure and happy and our relationships are more comfortable, many of us "forget" to have our quiet time. We forget to go to meetings and don't call our sponsor. We're busy again, because the pain that drove us into the program has been alleviated. This is a dangerous place to be, because it is one of the major delusions of the spiritual life that we can "do it ourselves" without daily contact with God and a daily look at the reality of what is going on in our own lives.A Hunger for Healing, by Keith Miller, p. 164
Through working the first nine steps, our lives have changed dramatically - way beyond what we expected when we first came to Narcotics Anonymous. We've become more honest, humble and concerned about others, less fearful, selfish, and resentful. But even such profound changes aren't guaranteed to be permanent. Because we have the disease of addiction, we can always return to what we were before. Recovery has a price - it demands our vigilance. We have to continue doing all the things we have been doing for our recovery so far. We have to continue to be honest, to have trust and faith, to pay attention to our actions and reactions, and to assess how those are working for us or against us. We also have to pay attention to how our actions affect others, and when the effects are negative or harmful, promptly step forward and take responsibility for the harm caused and for repairing it. In short, we have to continue to take personal inventory and promptly admit our wrongs. ...
Unlike the process contained in Steps Four through Nine, when we go through events from the past, Step Ten is designed to keep us current. We don't want to let unresolved wrongs pile up. We need to try our very best to stay abreast of what we're doing. Most of our work will be done by making constant adjustments to our outlook. If we find ourselves becoming negative and complaining all the time, we might want to spend some time thinking about the things for which we are grateful. We need to pay attention to the way we react when we've done something wrong. Is it our first impulse to make an excuse? Are we claiming to be victims of someone's negative influence - or of our disease? All excuses aside, we are responsible for what we do. It may very well be that our character defects got the better of us, but that doesn't excuse our behavior. We need to accept responsibility and continue to be willing to have our shortcomings removed. ...
It Works: How and Why tells us that while our goal is to maintain continuous awareness of ourselves throughout each day, it's very helpful to sit down at the end of each day and "work" this step. We need the consistency of doing something every day for it to become a habit and to internalize the spiritual principles of the activity. As we stay clean and our days of continuous abstinence turn into weeks and months and years, we'll find that taking a personal inventory has become second nature. We'll find that keeping track of our spiritual fitness comes naturally, without our having to think too much about it. We'll notice right away when we're headed in a direction we don't want to go or about to engage in a behavior that's sure to cause harm. We become able to correct it. So, the frequency of our formal efforts to take personal inventory may depend on our experience with recovery. In the beginning, some of us sat down at the beginning of our day, at the end of our day, or even both times, and went through IP #9, Living the Program [Webmaster's note: "IP" is NA's "Informational Pamphlet" and these pamphlets are available from the NA Product Catalog], or something similar and "took our spiritual temperature." The point is that we want to keep at it until it becomes a habit, until it's second nature to continuously monitor our recovery and our spiritual state, notice when we're going off course right away, and work to change it.Narcotics Anonymous Step Working Guides, p. 95, 98, 99
Maintaining an ongoing awareness of one's impact on others is one way to keep the slate clean. It is suggested that AA members review their day each evening for any signs of unfinished business, both with others and within themselves. This calls for a classic combination of honesty and humility. While some pieces may be obvious, others may be hidden under rationalizations and other defensive maneuvers. For some people, a printed list of reminders is useful in reviewing the day. Similarly, beginning each day with a review of the day to come can help prevent problems before they begin.
A special consideration is made for issues of anger and resentment. Generally, these are seen as luxuries, which are damaging to people in general but especially risky indulgences for recovering addicts. "Resentment is the number one offender" (Alcoholics Anonymous 2001)A Clinician's Guide to 12 Step Recovery, p. 54