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By Kristin Snowden MA, LMFT

By the time we’ve reached step 10 of the 12 steps, we’ve done some deep, impactful work on our minds, souls, and relationships with others. In fact, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, after discussing steps 1 through 9, lists the many benefits and changes one can expect from completing steps 1 through 9, including, among other gains: experiencing newfound freedom, joy, and serenity; acceptance of our past; improved relationship dynamics and skills; reconnection with our intuition and spirituality; the ability to let go of shame, suffering, and the need for comparison. Essentially, by working steps 1 through 9 our attitudes and perspectives will shift and our paths will change. However, no benefit that is gained from this life-dissecting process of the 12-step journey can sustain itself without step 10.

Step 10
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Step 10 acknowledges that transformation is infinite and growth is on a continuum. Therefore, each day we must remain aware of our propensity to slip back into our default, unhealthy habits. Thus, we must continue to take personal inventory – weekly, daily, even hourly.

Being human is a permanent condition. There’s no cure from our imperfections or struggles, at least not while we’re on this earth. The closest we can get to True Recovery is an ongoing commitment to do the best we can based on what we know at the time. To this end, we must continuously be willing to assess our behavior and choices, to learn from them, and to make amends when necessary. When we know better, we must do better. That’s it. Progress, not perfection.

As imperfect humans, we tend to make forward progress, then fall back. The essential piece is that we must consciously, humbly, and without defensiveness work toward forward progress as best we can, as often as we can. Everyone screws up, to various degrees. The real damage (the lasting damage) is typically done only when we refuse to acknowledge our mistakes and make amends.

In my next post to this site, we will continue our discussion of step 10 for non-addicts, looking at the painful truth about shame and the benefits of living with integrity.