This week's "Here's To Your Health," is the beginning of a discussion about Step 10, "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."
In his book Alcoholics Anonymous on page 84 of the Third Edition, Bill Wilson said: "This thought which suggests we continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along brings us to Step Ten. 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. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. If these crop up we immediately discuss them with someone and ask God to remove them. And, if we have harmed anyone we make amends quickly and resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code."
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone—even alcohol. For by this time our sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor and if tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle; we are not fighting it, or avoiding temptation. We feel as though we've been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected, so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition...
On page 88 of Bill Wilson's book, Twelve—Steps and Twelve—Traditions, he said about Step Ten: "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 AA way of living to practical use, day-by-day, in fair weather and foul. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions?"
A continuous look at our assets and liabilities, and a real desire to learn and grow by this means, are necessities for us. We alcoholics have learned this the hard way. More experienced people, of course, in all times and places have practiced unsparing self-survey and criticism. For the wise have always known that we cannot make much of our lives until self-searching becomes a regular habit, accept what we find and then patiently, and persistently, correct what's wrong.
When an alcoholic has a terrific hangover because he or she drank heavily yesterday, they cannot live well today. But, there's another kind of hangover too which we all experience whether we're drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday, and sometimes today's excess of negative emotion—anger, fear, jealousy and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers. This doesn't mean we need wander morbidly around in the past, but it does require an admission and correction of errors now. Our inventory Steps enable us to settle with the past. When this is done, we are really able to leave it behind us. When our inventory is carefully taken, and we have made peace with ourselves, the conviction follows that tomorrow's challenges can be met as they come.