The tenth step of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program is a maintenance step. It calls on people to continue to take personal inventory, and when we are wrong, to promptly admit it. Worksheets are valuable tools for following the various steps of the program. This article examines a worksheet that can be used for this step, and help in doing a 10th step inventory.
An Overview of The Tenth Step
The tenth step mirrors the 4th step and the 9th step and merges them into a single step. The fourth step is when the alcoholic makes a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves. The difference is that while the fourth step is a once-off, the tenth forms part of a plan of daily action. Following the fourth step, though, this is far less intimidating as it covers the last 24 hours and not all our drinking years. The other difference is that the tenth step is rarely done with a sponsor helping us.
The ninth step is even scarier than the fourth. It is one when we deal with people we have hurt. But here again, even though we are less likely to have a sponsor because we have done it before it will be easier. If necessary though, speak to your sponsor or someone else if you feel you need guidance.
A Deeper Dig Into the Tenth Step
Before looking at the worksheet, let’s revisit the 10th step so we have a better idea of how the worksheet serves the aims of the step.
The Big Book says:
No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines
This really is the point of the tenth step. We do not become saints when we begin to fight the disease of addiction. We are still subject to volatile emotions and need to take stock of our emotional disturbances as part of our daily practices.
In talking about this step, the big book says that following step 9
Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime
It is to me a certainty that making this an ongoing process is vital to ensuring that the promises of the ninth step are retained.
As with every step of Alcoholics Anonymous, the God of our understanding is at the front and center of this step.
The worksheet is designed to help the user perform a fearless moral inventory as part of their daily practices. It is essentially a checklist of negative thoughts that you might have had during the day and why. Prior to filling in the worksheet spend a few minutes to make contact with God and center yourself. Let your higher power guide the process.
The worksheet starts with a list of possible negative emotions and character defects. The list is not complete and is only intended to give an idea of what could be in the list.
That is followed by a simple chart which is used to record each emotion and defect that appeared during the day that has passed. Below is a copy of the chart with an example filled in for demonstration purposes.
Details – Why, Who. Any Insights
I was irritated with Paul because he ran late, and this made me late as well. I was very irritable when he arrived. I think this was due to arrogance and feeling that Paul’s needs were less important than mine.
In this chart, the negative feelings or the defects of character are noted in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column add information to help flesh out what you have cataloged. These details can include:
Who – Remember that the step requires that we admit when we were wrong. We may want to admit it to whoever was at the receiving end of our mistake
Why – This is critical. The main purpose of this step is for us to understand what happened so we can avoid the same thing occurring again by recognizing the triggers and either reducing the severity or stopping it entirely. This enables us to understand the exact nature of our wrongs. We can look at the term God of our understanding in a different way here – as a God who directs our understanding if we are willing to allow it.
The exact nature of our wrongs Is a deep thought. It is not just sufficient to know what new mistakes we have made but to understand the origin and the reasons and to reflect on where our personal responsibility for these lie.
There is a second chart in this worksheet and that is a chart almost identical to the first except that it deals with our fears. The chart below also contains an example.
Details – Why, Who. Any Insights
I was worried that Steve was going to condemn me for having brought in too little revenue. I am afraid of this because it damages myself self-esteem and that makes me feel unskilled.
Fears are a huge source of negative thoughts, and their review should form part of our daily steps. The worksheet details a few examples of fears we might experience, though again more certainly exist. With this chart, the first column lists the fears we experienced during the day. The second column serves the same purpose as it does in the first chart.
The tenth step is a positive action for keeping track of our daily personal experience of how the day could have been better. It is best done in a quiet place where we can make conscious contact with our higher power. The big book suggests that is done, “when we retire at night.” It also states very strongly that this must be something done daily and not put off or avoided.
However, as our spiritual awakening increases, this step becomes second nature. We will start to pick up the events at the very moment they happen and can make direct amends there and then to such people as we had harmed. These sudden awakenings should still be listed so we can reflect and understand what happened and why as we close our day.
This daily inventory needs to become part of your daily routine. It is tempting to let it slip when we are tired or too busy, but it must form part of our daily life. The importance is summed up in the book 12 and 12 where it says
As we work the first nine Steps, we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life. But when we approach Step Ten we commence to put our A.A. way of living to practical use, day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions? (p.88)
This is reinforced by the words of the big book.
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.
Note: All quotes are from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as the Big Book.