How to Work Step 10 [Of the 12-Steps]

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

Once you’ve completed the hard work of completing steps one through nine, you might think you’re good to go. However, there’s always more work to be done in recovery.

Essentially, Step 10 of the 12-Step Program serves as a reminder that people in recovery are still human. They’re not perfect, and they’re going to make mistakes. Step 10 is a maintenance step. It asks that you watch for emotions that have the potential to trigger drug or alcohol abuse and make things right when you make a mistake.

Let’s dive right in to explore the purpose of this step, why it’s important, and how you can start working Step 10 today.

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What Are the 12 Steps?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

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

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What Is Step 10 of the 12-Step Program?

Step 10 of the 12-Step Program is: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

What Is the Purpose of the Tenth Step in the 12-Step Program?

Step 10 is an important step that helps you maintain your sobriety after working the first nine steps of the program. It asks you to examine yourself daily and watch for emotional disturbances that have the potential to undermine your sobriety. Essentially, it helps prevent you from falling back into old habits.

By working Step 10, you prove that you are more than your old habits. You are not chained to your addictive behavior anymore. Instead, you make it a part of your daily routine to evaluate yourself and your behavior and take action to make things right when you make a mistake.

Taking a personal inventory means you watch closely for emotional disturbances that can creep up on you; things like resentment, fear, and dishonesty. When these things influence you, it’s easy to fall back into old habits and start using again. 

To continue moving in the right direction, Step 10 helps you learn to accept negative emotions, confront them, and take responsibility for them while asking your Higher Power for help to deal with them. You should also rely on your therapist, sober friends, supportive family, and 12-Step support group to help you.

To work Step 10, you’ll have to practice several spiritual principles outlined in the 12-Step Program, including:

  • Mindfulness
  • Discipline
  • Persistence
  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Honesty
  • Acceptance

Step 10 of the 12-Step Program is absolutely essential to your ongoing recovery. After working the first nine steps, it’s easy to start feeling like you don’t need the 12 Steps anymore. By this point, you probably feel very confident and secure in your sobriety, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are. Even still, the work you do in Step 10 helps you establish a stable, sober life in many ways.

To start, Step 10 helps you create healthy boundaries in relationships. It also helps you manage your emotions and prevent drastic mood swings that contribute to poor behavior. Working Step 10 can even help you maintain a productive work life and function as a healthy and contributing member of society. Not to mention, Step 10 encourages you to own up to your mistakes as quickly as possible, which helps prevent negative feelings from festering.

Common Misconceptions About Step 10

  • You can work Step 10 independently without the help of peers, your therapist, or your 12-Step fellowship group. Although you may feel like much of the work to get sober is done, it still helps immensely to have the support of professionals and peers. No matter how long you’ve been sober, daily life will still test your sobriety. You’re bound to make mistakes, and failure is a normal part of life. Having a strong support system in sobriety can help you take on those challenges and work through them without falling back into old habits.
  • You should never have negative emotions while working Step 10. Even though Step 10 asks you to keep your negative emotions in check, you’ll still have plenty of them! You’ll always have to deal with negative emotions. The key is that you don’t stuff them down and try to hide them away. Instead, you confront them, acknowledge they exist and ask your Higher Power and sober support system to help you manage them.
  • You should apologize for your mistakes, but you don’t have to forgive others for theirs. As you work Step 10, you should be focused on admitting your mistakes and quickly correcting them. At times, this may mean asking others for forgiveness. However, there will be times when people wrong you as well. Although Step 10 is largely about taking responsibility for your own actions, you should also be willing to hear from others and forgive their mistakes too. Doing so will help you develop strong, healthy relationships that last.

How to Work Step 10: 3 Tips

1. Keep a journal.

Set aside time each day to write in a journal. Spend that time meditating on your day, taking time to acknowledge both the good and the bad. Ask yourself questions like, “Do I need to apologize for anything I said or did today?” and “What steps can I take to make tomorrow a better day?” Making the time to reflect each day will keep Step 10 top of mind and help you keep moving in the right direction.

2. Avoid making decisions immediately, especially if they’re based on emotion.

It’s easy to make a bad decision when emotions like anger, frustration, or hurt take over. While you’re working Step 10, it’s a good practice to hold off on making immediate decisions and take a moment to think it through first. Consider how you’re feeling and why before you open your mouth or make a move. That way, you can avoid hurting others, saying something you’ll need to apologize for later, or using drugs and alcohol to deal with negative feelings.

3. Be honest with yourself.

No one likes to admit when they’re wrong, but doing so is an essential part of Step 10. This step is not about being perfect. It’s about being honest with yourself and where you stand. If you bravely acknowledge when you are wrong and do your best to make things right immediately, you can hold your head high, knowing you did all you could to right the wrong. This will also keep your ego from getting in the way of your spiritual growth.

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Get Help to Work Step 10

As you can see, the work you do to maintain your sobriety is a lifelong growth process. Working Step 10 can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. If you need help working Step 10, you can ask your sponsor, therapist, or sober peers for help. You can also work one-on-one with an addiction treatment professional in rehab to work through all 12 steps.

At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, experienced house managers run our sober living houses in Houston, Austin, and Colorado Springs. They have extensive personal experience in recovery and oversee the home and provide support and accountability to residents who are working through the 12-Steps themselves.

Our residents are also required to attend regular community support group meetings, whether they’re 12-Step-based or not. Regardless, our staff extends ongoing, round-the-clock support to help individuals sustain long-lasting recovery.

Eudaimonia also offers the following recovery support services to our residents:

Step 10 of the 12-Step Program requires discipline and perseverance, but the caring professionals at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes can help. Please call (512) 363-5914 to learn more about our sober living homes and recovery support services.

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