“Continued to Take Personal Inventory, and When We Were Wrong, Promptly Admitted it”
In Step Ten, we begin the maintenance part of the steps. We will learn how to sustain what we have accomplished, become more confident, and proceed with joy along our spiritual journey. The first nine steps put our house in order, and enabled us to change some of our destructive behaviors. This journey requires that we continue to rely on our Higher Power for guidance. Our work is beginning to pay off when we increase our capacity to develop new and healthier ways of taking care of ourselves and relating to others.
Some of us may wonder whether the peace and serenity that we are experiencing in our lives is permanent or just temporary. Working the steps has helped us to realize how fragile and vulnerable we are. But with daily practice of the steps, and with our Higher Power’s loving presence in our lives, we will be ale to achieve and maintain our new found balance. Our relating skills will improve, and we will see how interactions with others assumes a new quality.
At this point, we may be tempted to revert to our old bravado, and believe we are healed. We may think that we have all the answers, and can stop here. We feel comfortable with ourselves and see no need to continue with the program. We allow other activities to interfere, and find excuses for skipping meetings and abandoning the program. We must resist the temptation to quit, and realize that “giving in” will deprive us of realizing the goal we set for ourselves. Our successes can be maintained only if we are willing to depend on God, and practice the principles of the steps daily, for the rest of our lives.
Step Ten points the way toward continued spiritual growth. In the past, we were constantly burdened by the results of our inattention to what we were doing. We allowed small problems to become large by ignoring them until they multiplied. Through our lack of sensitivity and skills, we allowed our ineffective behavior to create havoc in our lives. In Step Ten, we consciously examine our daily conduct, and admit our wrongs where necessary. We look at ourselves, see our errors, promptly admit them, and seek Gods guidance in correcting them.
While we are working so carefully to monitor our actions and reactions, we must not judge ourselves too harshly. If we do, we face the possibility of returning to our negative attitudes. We need to recognize that nurturing ourselves emotionally and spiritually requires daily vigilance, loving, understanding, and patience. Life is never stagnant; it is constantly changing, and each change requires adjustment and growth.
A daily personal inventory is an ongoing examination of our strengths and weaknesses, motives and behaviors. Taking daily inventory is not a time consuming task and can be usually accomplished within fifteen minutes. When done with discipline and regularity, this is a small price to pay for continuing the good work we have begun.
It is important to monitor ourselves for signs that we are returning to old attitudes and patterns of behavior. We may be attempting to manage our lives alone, manipulating others, or slipping into patterns of resentment, dishonesty or selfishness. When we see these temptations arising, we must immediately ask our Higher Power to forgive us, then make amends where needed. Daily practice of Step Ten maintains our honesty and humility, and allows us to continue our development.
We become more conscious of our strengths and weaknesses when we review our behaviors by taking regular inventory. We are less inclined to yield to feelings of anger, loneliness, and self-righteousness when we are emotionally balanced. Our personal inventory helps us discover who we are, what we are, and where we are going. We become better focused and better prepared to live the life we desire.
The Twelve-Step program emphasizes the need for taking a regular personal inventory because many of us haven’t developed the basic tools for self-appraisal yet. In time, we will appreciate the value of personal inventory. Although Step Ten inventories require some time and energy, the results are worth the effort. Three types of inventories are recommended, and each serves a different purpose. These are; Spot-Check Inventory, Daily Inventory, and Long-Term Periodic Inventory.
A spot-check inventory involves stopping several times every day to assess our behavior and attitude. It is a short review of our actions, thoughts and motives. This review can be useful in calming stormy emotions, and it keeps us in touch with our behavior. It is a chance for examining situations, seeing where we are wrong and taking prompt corrective action. Taking frequent inventories, and immediately admitting our wrongs, keeps us free from guilt and supports our spiritual growth. It is a good way to keep our lives free from anger, resentment, and unforgiveness.
It is important to stop at the end of each day, or start at the beginning of the next, and review what has happened. We should examine our lives daily to remind ourselves that this program is lived “One Day at a Time”. This action, with Gods guidance, keeps us focused on the present, and prevent us from worrying about the future or living in the past. It is an opportunity to keep in touch with our thoughts, feeling, and actions, on a daily basis.
The daily inventory can be viewed as a balance sheet for the day – a summary of the good and bad. It is an opportunity to reflect on our interactions with other people, things that happened, and a reminder of the difficulties we encountered. In the situations where we did well, we can feel good and acknowledge our progress. In those situations where we tried and failed, we need to acknowledge our attempt because we did try. We can make amends and move forward with peace of mind. As we work the Program, we can be assured that our number of successes will continue to rise.
Future situations may arise that will challenge your integrity and commitment. We need to be as honest and clear about our intentions as possible. Taking a few minutes to review our Step Four inventory can provide helpful insights into our recovery. Things to consider are:
• If we are isolating, and feeling withdrawn, we need to reach out and share our difficulties with a friend.
• If we are slipping back, trying to control and manipulate others, we need to recognize this, and ask our Higher Power to correct it.
• If we are comparing ourselves to others, and feeling inferior, we need to reach out to supportive friends. We can than honestly examine our feelings to renew our own sense of self-worth.
• If we are becoming obsessive or compulsive, and not taking care of ourselves, we need to stop and ask our Higher Power for help. We need to decide what unmet needs we are trying to fulfill, and understand how to meet these needs.
• If we are fearing authority figures, we need to find the reason for our fear, acknowledge it, and ask our Higher Power for help.
• If we are depressed, we need to discover the central issue causing us to feel withdrawn and/or sorry for ourselves.
• If we are repressing our feelings, we need to take the necessary risks, and express our feelings assertively.
LONG-TERM PERIODIC INVENTORY
A long-term periodic inventory can be accomplished by being alone or going away for a time. These are special days that can be set aside for reflection on our lives. We might attend a retreat, or find a place of solitude. This is an important time that provides an opportunity for us to renew our intention to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
This inventory can be done once or twice a year, and will give us a chance to reflect on our progress. We will have an opportunity to see the remarkable changes we have made, and to renew our hope and courage. We must be careful not to inflate our ego, and must remind ourselves that our progress is a product of Gods help. Long-term inventories help us recognize problem areas in our lives. These inventories enable us to get a larger perspective of our behavior, and allow us to make significant changes. During these special inventories, we will discover new defects as well as new strengths.
If we sincerely want to change our lifestyle, we take a personal inventory regularly, and continue to interact with others in recovery. This reminds us that we are not unique – that everyone gets upset occasionally, and no one is always “right”. Through this awareness, we develop the ability to be forgiving and understanding, and to love others for who they are, and “where they are”. By being kind, courteous, and fair, we will often receive the same in return, and can expect to achieve harmony in many of our relationships.
As we progress in our recovery, we see how pointless it is to become angry, or to allow others to inflict emotional pain on us. Taking periodic, regular inventory, and promptly admitting our wrongs keeps us from harboring resentments, and allows us to maintain our dignity and respect for ourselves and others.
The conscientious practice of Step Ten has many benefits; most importantly, it strengthens and protects our recovery. Step Ten keeps us from returning to old patterns and behaviors such as:
• Medicating any discomfort through alcohol and drugs
• Distracting ourselves through compulsive behaviors such as eating or shopping
• Hiding from life through isolation
• Denying our needs through control and manipulation of others
• Escaping reality through fantasies
• Soothing our low self-esteem through people pleasing
Working the steps is a way for us to develop a daily discipline that deepens our love for God, and enables us to be genuinely sorry for our wrongs. It helps us in continually striving for improvement in our relationships with our Higher Power and others. Learning to face our faults daily, and correct them promptly, provides God with the opportunity to mold our character and lifestyle. Delay in admitting our wrongs shows a resistance to working Step Ten. This is harmful, and will only make matters worse.
The ongoing practice of Step Ten has many rewards, such as:
• Our relationship problems diminish. Taking inventory, and admitting our wrongs, promptly dissolves many misunderstandings without further incident.
• We learn to express ourselves and not fear being “found out”. We see that, by being honest, we do not need to hide behind a “false front”.
• We no longer have to pretend we are flawless, and can be candid about admitting our wrongs.
• Through admitting our wrongs, others may become aware of their own behavior difficulties. We develop a better understanding of others, and can express ourselves honestly.
Personal Inventory: The Step Ten personal inventory is much like the moral inventory in Step Four. The difference is the ongoing and frequent nature of the Step Ten inventory. The idea of “personal” is a reminder to us that the inventory process is about us, not others.
Spot-Check Inventory: The spot-check inventory is the most frequent self-check. Through this inventory we monitor our actions throughout the day. We might designate objects or times in our day as reminders. For example, a red dot on our desk calendar might serve as a reminder to take a spot-check inventory, or a prayer taped to our refrigerator might help as well.
Daily Inventory: Quality time every day needs to be set aside for our daily inventory. This can be a few minutes before bed, or early in the morning when our minds are clear. It is best to use a journal or inventory log for this daily inventory. This will serve as a reminder that progress is being made – “one day at a time”.
Long-Term Periodic Inventory: The long-term periodic inventory is done after a longer period of time. We may take this inventory every quarter, twice a year,
or annually – the specific interval is not important. The idea is to occasionally get away, and take a thorough inventory that reflects longer periods of time. In this way we are able to view patterns and seasons in our lives. If possible, it is helpful to find some form of retreat or solitude for this inventory.