Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
At this point in our journey we’ve presumably learned how to identify patterns of behavior and how they lead us to make mistakes as well as how to make amends for our failures. Step 10 asks us to practice these skills as we move through life.
The Big Book suggests doing this at night, before going to bed. Perhaps that works for you, but this doesn’t work for me. First and foremost, at the end of the day I need to let my mind rest. I have a routine that I already practice around bed time. It includes turning off screens, reading, perhaps listening to a relaxing podcast or meditation.
The idea of making a list of the things that I did wrong during the day and then resolving to fix them the next day sounds onerous. I don’t know about you, but I can’t settle down and go to sleep after that exercise. My monkey mind gets activated and I stress about how to fix things. That leads to a less than stellar night of sleep.
I find it much better to be conscious of my words and actions moment to moment during the day and to make my amends as soon as I recognize that I’ve made a mistake. This takes work. It takes awareness. It takes practice. In short, it takes mindfulness, which is a big part of how I approach the next step.
I’m not always great at this. There are times when I don’t recognize that I’ve hurt another person. There are times when I let my emotions get the better of me and go on the attack, forsaking the feelings of others. There are times when I feel justified in my anger and hold in to it longer than I should. But with practice, I’ve come to recognize when I’ve caused harm more quickly than I did in the past.
I find it interesting that this step doesn’t say anything about making amends. It simply says we should promptly admit that we were wrong. This seems strange. The Big Book explains that’s amends are implied, “Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along.” — Alcoholics Anonymous page 84.
Why not make it explicit rather than implicit?
At any rate, one cannot have a clean conscious unless one tries to right a wrong. If we do this as part of Step 10, if we make it a habit — part of our existential being, our ethos — the we will never build up a long list of failures like we had in Step 4. We will be living more in harmony with ourselves and the others in our lives.