“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he blames someone else.”– John Burroughs
Continuing to do anything in our daily lives usually means that we get better at it. And so it goes with Step Ten of AA Alcoholics Anonymous. Nobody ever really enjoys admitting to being wrong, it’s much easier to blame others. Admitting when we are wrong and promptly being accountable for our side of the street is absolutely necessary in order for us to maintain our spiritual progress in recovery. The best part about practicing the Tenth Step of AA in our daily lives is that the more we are exercising self-discovery, honesty, humility and reflection, the less apologies and amends we have to make!
Taking a personal “inventory” in Step Ten means taking stock of our emotional disturbances, especially those that could return us to drinking or other drug use.
As it says in The Big Book, when we are disturbed, it is usually because we find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact in our lives – unacceptable. A typical response to disturbance is to blame our feelings and reactions on other people. Alcoholics and addicts have typically honed the skill of nursing resentments and finding fault into an art form! We tend to give other people control over our lives when we say that they “make us” angry, upset or afraid. The reality is that we usually say or do something that helps to create these conflicts in our lives. Step Ten of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that its time we take responsibility for our actions and to promptly clean up our role in all matters. This requires being willing to release selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, or fear at the very moment that they occur. Step Ten of AA puts into practice the spiritual principles of vigilance, maintenance and perseverance.
Acknowledging what’s working and balanced can also help us to pinpoint what’s out of balance and not working. Continuing to take personal inventory isn’t only about finding out when we are wrong however, because we can’t identify the times when we are wrong, unless we also have identified the times when have handled things “rightly” as a basis for a comparison. Working with our sponsor in Step 10 to identify the times and situations when we do things right really helps us to form a personal value system. This is as much a part of taking a personal inventory as is identifying our liabilities.
BREAKING DOWN STEP TEN OF AA ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll
Working on the Tenth Step of AA means continuing to do all of the things we have been doing for our recovery so far; continuing to be honest, having trust and faith, and paying attention to our actions and reactions. We have learned to pay attention to how our actions affect others, and when the effects are negative or harmful, promptly stepping forward and taking responsibility for the harm caused and trying to repair it. This is what it means to take personal inventory and promptly admit our wrongs.
Even though our lives have changed dramatically through working the first Nine Steps of AA Alcoholics Anonymous, because we have the disease of addiction, we can always return to what we were before. The price for our healthy recovery is vigilance.
STEP TEN OF AA: SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES
The AA Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery is based on spiritual principles and virtues. With Step Ten we focus on the principles of honesty, perseverance/self-discipline and integrity.
The range and depth of our honesty at this point in our recovery is astonishing. Earlier on in our recovery we were able to see our true motives long after a situation was over, and now we are able to be honest with ourselves, about ourselves, while the situation is still occurring. This principle of honesty originated in Step One, and is now brought to fruition in Step Ten.
Having self-discipline & perseverance is almost counter-intuitive for us addicts. When we were using our drug of choice we were probably self-seeking and self- absorbed, always taking the easy way out, giving in to our impulses, and ignoring any opportunities for personal growth. The self-discipline required for our recovery calls on us to do certain things regardless of how we feel. For example, we need to go to regular meetings even if we’re tired, busy at work or play, or even when filled with despair. We go to meetings, call our sponsor, work with others and practice spiritual principles because we have decided we want recovery in AA and those things are the actions that will help assure our continued recovery.
The principle of integrity in AA can be complex, as sticking to commitments and making good on our word is only a small part. Integrity in recovery almost seems to be the art of knowing which principles we need to practice in any given situation, and in what measure.
Most of us discovered when we sobered up that we had never been able to have any kind of long-term relationship, certainly not any kind in which we resolved our conflicts in a healthy and mutually respectful way. Whether it was raging fights with people that never spoke of the underlying problem that caused the fights, or not standing up for ourselves and being conflict avoidant because it seemed easier to burn a bridge rather than work through a problem and build a stronger relationship. These are all parts of continuing to take our personal inventory to reveal our greatest liabilities and assets. Let’s expand on that.
FEELINGS, RIGHT AND WRONG
Step Ten points out the need to continue taking personal inventory and seems to assert that we do this solely to find out when we’re wrong. But how can we identify the times we’re wrong unless we also have times that we’re right as a basis for comparison? Identifying the times we do things right and forming personal values are as much a part of personal inventory as identifying our liabilities.
The Tenth Step tells us that we have to promptly admit when we’re wrong, but that’s assuming that we always know when we’re wrong! The fact is that most of us don’t, at least not right away. We become more proficient at figuring out when we’re wrong with the consistent practice of taking a personal inventory. We use Step Ten to maintain a continuous awareness of what we’re feeling, thinking, and, even more importantly, what we’re doing.
Have you ever noticed how much thought and feeling are attached to actions? It’s really interesting. For instance, many of us have a problem with being angry; we don’t like the way it feels. We may judge it, conclude we have no right to feel that way, and then do our very best to suppress our angry feelings. Yet, we may be experiencing a situation that would make anyone angry, and when we think about it, we start to feel really quite uncomfortable. Then comes the moment when our recovery either propels us forward into greater self-respect or our disease drags us down into a thick fog of depression and resentment. And it all has to do with how we respond to our thoughts and feelings of anger. Obviously, if we scream, curse and throw things, we destroy any possibility of making a relationship, job or situation better. But if we do nothing and bury our feelings, we become depressed and resentful, and that doesn’t improve our situation either. If we take positive action aimed at improving the situation, it has the chance to get better; or at the very least, we’ll know when it’s time to walk away and be able to do so without regrets.
It doesn’t do any good to make a list of our feelings or to become aware of them without tying them to the precise actions that they generate, or in some cases fail to generate. Before beginning a regular practice of personal inventory it’s important to understand what we are assessing in an inventory.
STEP TEN QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL INVENTORY
These questions can address the general areas that we want to look at in a personal inventory:
Are there times in my life when I am confused about the difference between my feelings and my actions? Write about this.
Have there been some times in my recovery when I’ve been wrong and not aware of it until later? What were they?
How do my “wrongs” affect my own life? Others’ lives?
Why is a Tenth Step even necessary? What is the purpose of continuing to take personal inventory?
What does promptly admitting you were wrong mean- to you?
Have there been situations in my recovery in which I felt uncomfortable about acknowledging something I had done well (or “right”)? Describe.
How does the Tenth Step help me live in the present and why is that helpful?
What am I doing differently as a result of working Step Ten?
PRAYER & MEDITATION: MOVING ON FROM STEP TEN OF AA ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
“This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. 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. Action: Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.” Page 85 BB
When we make a conscious decision to check our motives and our hearts each day to see if we’ve been acting out with even minor things like judging, being snippy or insulting, we can quickly make amends and go on living a life in peace and harmony. This is one of the ways we stay sober. This is how we enter the “world of the spirit.”
So far in your step work you have been building a conscious awareness of yourself and a Higher Power. Your daily reflections, step work, meeting attendance and fellowshipping have been prayer and mediation in action. In Step 11 you will work on seeking to improve this conscious contact and become aware of the spiritual solution!
As we stay clean and days of continuous abstinence turn into weeks and months and years, we find that taking a personal inventory really has become second nature. With Step ten we notice right away when we’re headed in a direction that we don’t want to go or about to engage in a behavior that’s sure to cause harm and we are able to correct it. The practice of taking a personal inventory is a check-in with the union of ourselves and our higher power and an opportunity for growth, grounding, meditation and progress.
As with everything else in life, the AA Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery is very much about trial and error. So keep taking the next right action, keep your side of the street clean and remember to stay sober, one day at a time.
No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues - particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.
Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority - the scope of such authority to be always well defined whether by tradition, by resolution, by specific job description or by appropriate charters and bylaws.
Feelings! Honest, genuine feelings! Those are things I, as an alcoholic, tried to bury, deny or disguise. But when they persisted on rising to the surface I simply anesthetized them with anything eighty-six proof or higher. Sound familiar?
But when those persistent feelings prevailed, as eventually they had to, they emerged distorted by alcohol, exaggerated and twisted beyond all sane recognition. And how those feelings would change from day to day, from drink to drink, from drunk to drunk! Who hasn't been quietly guzzling at three in the morning, singing along with Sinatra, and proclaiming proudly, "I did it my way," without realizing what my way had gotten me--a life in total disarray. Maybe the next night it might be commiserating with Peggy Lee, wondering with her, "Is that all there is?"
As an alcoholic, I now realize I couldn't separate the valid, honest feelings from the neurotic and alcoholically adulterated feelings, so I didn't trust any of them.
But sobriety and the profound personality transformation we all undergo on our way to high-quality sobriety and growth brought a whole new set of feelings. I didn't recognize many of them, I didn't particularly like a lot of them, and I didn't trust any of them.
But soon those old feelings were going or gone and being replaced by a set of new feelings, the strangest of which to me were good feelings, good, nonalcoholically induced feelings of well-being. How strange to feel good about myself, about others, about the world!
I rarely had good feelings before the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous worked its miracle on me, but when I did or when I suspected they might be slipping quietly up on me, I headed them off by getting swacked. If you can't meet something head-on and cope with it realistically, just hide in a bottle, right? I was a success drinker. I regularly managed to spoil any success that came my way or was even about to come my way. My self-esteem and sense of self-worth was in such small supply and of such low caliber that I didn't feel worthy of success. Or I was afraid of it. Or both. So I let alcohol deaden any good feelings that threatened.
Although I no longer drink over success, I still don't know: what does one do with good feelings? A psychiatrist once suggested that an outpouring of good feelings is in fact love--love of the nonhormonal variety. So maybe that's what these strange good feelings are all about--love of life, love of people and of the world-at-large, love of the freedom from fear and anxiety and all manner of other bugaboos which haunted me.
But the good feelings now prevail, even if sometimes vague and unfocused; which in itself can be disquieting because I always assumed good feelings had to be about something or someone. But they are joyous signs of some progress in getting weller than well after years of sobriety and untold hundreds of meetings, daily practice of the Eleventh Step, living the other eleven Steps as best I can and generally basking in the healing aura of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Good feelings once drove me to drink. Now I'm beginning to enjoy them because I don't drink, and they seem to be becoming a more or less reliable part of my psyche as long as I stay in fit spiritual condition.
We are available 24/7. All calls are confidential. Phones answered by sober volunteers.
October 2022 Special Price on No Matter What
$10.00 plus tax
All recovering alcoholics have had to deal with adversity in their sobriety: a serious illness, an ugly divorce, the death of a child, the loss of a house to fire or to the bank. Despite the fear, pain or self-pity that arise when tragedy strikes, drinking is not an option.
It’s important to remember that some things are in our power to change; others we have to simply accept. The men and women whose powerful essays were selected for this collection follow both of those paths. Through reflection and meditation, making use of one or more of the Twelve Steps, or working with others, each is able to reckon with the adversity in their lives.
These stories of strength and hope show the diverse ways that AA members use the tools of the program and embrace the Fellowship during tough times.
No Matter What offers comfort and hope to readers―whatever trials and tribulations they face.
No services have been announced as of this publication.
15,706 days ago I walked out of the rubber-Rooms
Of the Santa Barbara County jail a dying young man with alcoholic Gastritis, a liver 3x its normal size, encased in layers of fat, and alcohol poisoning. I had no hope left, I desperately needed to die.
Mom had met this Group of mentally unbalanced peoples whom had the most horrible stories, and took great glee in sharing the great misery alcohol had caused in they, and their loved ones lives. They seemed insanely happy, because, they said,
they didn't drink!!! That was about a year and a half before this day...
I was in a place I couldn't stop, and I couldn't go on. After I got home, momma gave me to some of these guys, and they said call one of us if you even think of drinking, and I DID!
This good friend of my mom's would meet for coffee every afternoon and one day I was having a lot of trouble from my past drinking after telling my story, He stands up with a huge grin (big smiles or grins made me quite nervous in those days) and says "Mike, what you gotta do, is, BUY the WHOLE PACKAGE, GET ON the SUNNY SIDE OF the STREET!! AND someday down the line, you may just get to have a Zippity-Do-Dah Day. I thought, "I am SOO SCREWED!!...
Life is today, life. For the last 43 years I've had a wonderful life with momma, my brother AND many friends I never would of had if not for these fantastically mad people!
Thank you all, thanks momma.
Sobriety Date: 10/01/1979
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InterGroup Meeting - Oct 12 @ 7:30pm
Please join us at the next NOCCO InterGroup Meeting. InterGroup Meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm.
To help support local essential services, the General Service Conference suggests that individual groups, through an informed group conscience, adopt a specific contribution plan. Click below to see all of the Group Contributions from previous periods.
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Even though meetings, 12-step services and operations have shifted to a hybrid environment, expenses continue as we navigate the re-opening of meetings, which underscores the importance of practicing the Seventh Tradition. We still stock literature, handle 12-step calls around the clock, and assist those with a desire to stop drinking. Your generous support is critical and appreciated.
Grapevine’s Podcast Celebrates First Anniversary with Special Episode!
The AA Grapevine Half-Hour Variety Hour turns one-year-old this month. To celebrate we will release a special anniversary episode on Tuesday, October 4 at 9:00 AM Eastern. This is in addition to our regularly scheduled episode on Monday, October 3.
Tune in to hear Don and Sam talk with the gang at Grapevine about the creation of the podcast, and listen to some hilarious bloopers that didn’t make it onto the weekly podcast.
You can find the AA Grapevine Half-Hour Variety Hour wherever you listen to podcasts or at aagrapevine.org/podcast.
As many of you may know, planning is already underway for the 2025 International Convention that will be held July 3-6, 2025, in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Given the impact and uncertainty of the Covid-19 virus, it is vital that we obtain feedback from the Fellowship as it relates to domestic and international travel, attendance at large events, and thoughts regarding an in-person event with a partial, limited virtual component, and incorporate the feedback in our planning. We anticipate that the following survey will be one of several dispatched during the planning process so that we may remain current with the thoughts of the Fellowship.
Kindly take a few minutes and answer the questions in the link below. Your responses are of great value in helping us to better plan for the International Convention. (All responses are anonymous.)
The 90th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous will be celebrated at the 2025 International Convention in Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 3 – 6, 2025. Registration will begin in early 2024.
It is suggested that those who believe they have some past legal incident, such as a DUI or felony that could inhibit their attendance at the 2025 International Convention, seek assistance/information by accessing the Government of Canada link noted below.