Step 10 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Read on to learn about how step 10 in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program can help those struggling with alcoholism.

Now that you have completed the ninth step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you’re ready to take on the next step in your alcohol recovery journey. You are going to be working through step 10 of the 12-step AA program. In the previous steps, you made amends for past wrongs, but that is not the end of the program.1 You will move forward with the 10th step inventory, which involves continuing to take accountability for past wrongs by admitting those wrongs.2

What Is Step 10 of AA?

The 10th step inventory consists of acknowledging past wrongs and admitting those injuries and wrongs. This takes courage, perseverance, and continual self-assessment. The exact wording of step 10 AA is as follows:2

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Continuing the AA journey means you are committed to a life of honesty, self-discipline, and accountability.2 It also fosters trust—trust in yourself—and encourages others to trust and believe in you, too. As you face up to past wrongs and take responsibility for them, it will bring peace and inner reconciliation, and it also shows others that you can be trusted to own up to your faults.2

By now, you have gained tremendous strength from finishing the other previous 9 steps, so doing this step may not be as challenging for you as the step seemed when you first started out. However, it will involve deep introspection and reflection about the past and your current behavior.2 You will need to be more aware of your actions and how they affect others. When you have a lifestyle heavily involving alcohol, it’s easy to overlook how your behavior is impacting those around you.2 Although it may be difficult to admit, you need to assess how your behavior and actions may be harmful and hurtful to yourself and other individuals.2 By stepping forward and taking responsibility for these actions, you can make progress in changing the behavior. Awareness is a key component to change.

As you begin to look inward and outward and contemplate how your actions have harmed others, it’s also critical that you don’t dwell too much on the negativity of this.2 In other words, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you focus too much on feeling bad about it, you won’t be able to learn from the experience and focus on the positive results that come from keeping yourself accountable.

How to Do the 10th Step in AA

When you think of how to do the 10th step in AA, you must realize that this journey is an ongoing process.2 Every day, people who are recovering from alcoholism will face temptations that will test their ability to remain emotionally stable and remain sober.2 This is a challenging task, and sometimes the battle is stronger than at other times.

It’s recommended that participants review step 4’s self-inventory list as they begin with step 10 of AA. This is helpful in showing you where you might have particular weaknesses and difficulties. After reviewing that, you should take an inventory at the end of each day to help you stay on track. During your daily inventory, take note of any instances when you were resentful, dishonest, harmful to anybody, and so on.1 Although this part of the inventory is focused on the negative aspects of your day, don’t let it end there. If you faced a particularly hard situation that day and didn’t respond how you normally would have but instead reacted with humility, forgiveness, or grace, take note of that accomplishment.1 It’s an excellent sign of positive growth. Through noting both the positive and negative, you can see how you reacted or are reacting at times and compare with the way you want to react.1 That way, you can become more proficient at figuring out when you have acted in harmful ways. By practicing this 10th step inventory, you will be more aware of how others feel, think, and act.

Questions to Help With 10th Step Inventory

When participants are doing their daily self-inventory, they might feel stuck at times—like they don’t know where to start or end when tackling the self-inventory. It helps to ask yourself questions that stimulate thought.3 These questions can serve as a prompt for brainstorming the daily inventory. Here are a sample set of questions you can use, but feel free to add or subtract to this list as fits your own experiences:

  • Do I recognize the difference between my feelings and my actions?
  • Do I understand that I may not be able to control my feelings, but I can control my actions?
  • Have there been times during recovery that I didn’t realize I was wrong until later? How did I come to realize it? What were these wrongs?
  • In what ways do my “wrongs” affect my life? How do they affect the lives of others?
  • What is the purpose of the 10th step of AA?
  • What does promptly admitting that you were “wrong” mean to you?
  • Do I ever feel uncomfortable about acknowledging my positive accomplishments?
  • Do I ever feel uncomfortable acknowledging the wrongs I have done to others?
  • Is Step 10 making me live life any differently? If so, how?
  • Am I aware of any lingering habits of behavior in my life today? If so, what are they?
  • Have I been bitter, angry, selfish, or dishonest?
  • Do I have a lot of fears about the future?
  • Am I expecting myself to be perfect or setting myself up for disappointment?
  • Do I worry a lot about the past or the future?
  • Am I practicing self-care?
  • Do I take things too seriously in any part of my life?
  • Do I suffer from a physical, mental, or spiritual problem?
  • Have I kept any secret that I should have discussed with my sponsor?
  • Is there some action I did today that I regret? If so, what was it?
  • Was there some action that I wish I would have done today? What was it?
  • Did I experience any relationship conflicts today? What were they?
  • Am I keeping integrity in all my personal relationships with others?
  • Have I harmed anyone today, either directly or indirectly? If so, how?
  • Have I harmed myself today? If so, how?
  • Do I owe anyone an apology?
  • If I could do today over again, how would I change it and do things differently?
  • Did I stay sober today? If not, was there something that triggered my use?
  • What did I do to be of service to others today?

By implementing the 10th step in AA, you can continue your journey to a sober life, free from alcoholism.

Next: Step 11

Previous: Step 9

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