Step 10: Daily Inventory

Step 10: Daily Inventory

Twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems. I will share my experiences with each step as a resource for newcomers to the program. It is HIGHLY ADVISABLE that you work through the steps with a sponsor! Step Ten reads:

Continue to take personal inventory,

and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

At this point in working the Twelve Steps, it starts to feel like they have transformed into daily practices, not just milestones that you have passed. They become a part of our routine and how we interact with the world.

The Tenth Step, in some ways, is the practice of Steps 4 through 9, but on a continual basis. Do a “spot-check” inventory, acknowledge faults to another person, be willing to remove shortcomings, ask HP for guidance, determine if we have harmed someone with our behavior and make amends. It’s not stated in Step 10 explicitly, but this is how I see it — Step 10 is a daily, ongoing version of Steps 4 through 9.

What Is This Inventory?

If you are learning about this step for the first time, I should explain what we mean by “personal inventory”. It is the same as Step 4, but here we are doing a “spot check”. We become aware of everything that we’re afraid of, our hangups and resentments, everyone that we have harmed, and any selfish romantic mistakes.

Loneliness, by Hans Thoma

Most of us (if not all of us) experience a re-surfacing of our character defects from time to time. These are instinctive behaviors, so they do not go away completely. We have to try to manage their intensity. I know that I will always have fears, worries, resentments, and ego-driven moments. The inventory is essentially a listing of our fears, resentments, and harms done, followed by the part of ourselves that contributed to these. 

If you are doing a good job of managing your shortcomings, then the Tenth step will be easy. Your personal inventory will be minimal. Congratulations on being a good person! However, most of us will have our good and bad days, so we need to “monitor” ourselves. The inventory is something that we are asked to put into practice every day. The multitudes of sponsors out there will have different ideas about how to approach this. I would suggest doing a daily inventory until such time that you can confidently say that you don’t need to. I, for one, am going to try to do this every day.

When We Were Wrong

The Tenth Step asks us to promptly admit “when we were wrong”. Part of this is recognizing that a character defect might be at play. Fear and self-reliance are common culprits. One aspect of this is when we actually do wrong towards someone else. My experience is that when I drank, I didn’t understand how my character defects were manifesting in my daily life. Now that I’m working the Steps, I often notice the part I’m playing, such as when fear creeps in, or when I’m being a jerk. Now I can immediately recognize, acknowledge and admit my wrong.

Sometimes we won’t realize that our character defects were at play until “after the fact”. This is why the Tenth step has us do an inventory. It doesn’t explicitly say to do this every day, so there is some leeway on how you actually do the Tenth Step. Personally, I’m striving to do this actively every day, at least until I’ve had a few years under my belt.

A daily inventory might be summarized as an analysis of your missteps and shortcomings for the day. I’m going to borrow some material from a mobile app called “Tenth Step”, because I think it does a good job of explaining what a Tenth step might be.

The Tenth Step App

The 10th Step App

In Tenth Step, the mobile app, you answer some questions every day:

1. Was I resentful?
2. Was I dishonest?
3. Did I promptly admit when I was wrong today?
4. Do I owe an apology?
5. Did I do or say something today out of fear?
6. Have I kept something to myself which should be discussed with another person at once?
7. Did I think today of what I could do for others?
8. Was I kind and loving towards all?
9. Did I reach out to someone in recovery today to see how they were doing?
10. Did I take the time to connect with my higher power through prayer or meditation today?

If you’re like me, you may often not “score” very well. That is a good thing because it’s like a net. It catches you in the act, so that you can make some positive changes in your life.

I highly recommend using this app, or simply asking yourself these questions daily. It’s probably a good thing to do before you go to bed, after interacting with the world.

Daily Practice

Click to view

The ideal would be to immediately notice our wrongs and immediately acknowledge them. I believe that eventually in our recovery we can become the type of people that are keenly aware of fear, resentment, selfishness, and such things. If so, we can react appropriately in the moment.

For those of us in early recovery, it might be good to make this step part of our daily routine. Here is a sort of model day for my own daily recovery:

  1. Wake up and recite the Third Step Prayer, thereby acknowledging the first three steps each day.
  2. Practice meditation (part of the 11th step) to increase my conscious contact with my higher power.
  3. Create a gratitude list. Recite the St. Francis Prayer. Recite the 7th step prayer.
  4. Make any amends that need to be made, whenever possible (9th and 10th steps)
  5. Incorporate things that make me happy and healthy. Diet and exercise are critical!
  6. Incorporate reading, writing and creativity into my day.
  7. Practice mindfulness and try to be keenly aware of my character defects. Try to be a virtuous person always.
  8. Meditate again. Say another prayer.
  9. Call my sponsor, or talk to someone close, if I need to acknowledge some character defects (Step 5).
  10. At the end of my day, do a Tenth Step inventory. This will inevitably walk me through the Steps 4 through 8. 
  11. Get a good night’s sleep.

The list above is a loose framework, but hopefully it makes some sense. It is just an ideal for me, as I am still working on my routine. As you can see, I believe that the 10th Step is the beginning of a daily practice incorporating all the steps. The 11th and 12th steps are similar, in that they are incorporated into your everyday life. We begin to reach a point where the Steps are animated parts of our daily existence, not just rungs on a ladder.





20 thoughts on “Step 10: Daily Inventory

  1. Thanks for the app recommendation. I am not sure I would have ever found it otherwise. I am just beginning my first tenth step and look forward to incorporating this into my practice!

  2. OR just write it on paper where “thoughts are molecules” (energy) that run down your arm to a pen or pencil that transfers ink or lead (molecules) to paper.

    THAT is connecting to a higher power……not ethers in nothingness.

    JBB/DOS 4-11-1994

  3. Good reading, hearing what works for someone else helps me, it’s always great to hear other fresh ideas/ options outside of your own. Im getting that app,
    thanks heaps Ronnie

  4. Thank you for sharing your daily model. I would only add 12th step carry the message/practice the principles as my sponsor reminds me. I really benefited from reading your post, much gratitude to you.

  5. I love reading good articles like this that are very helpful in spreading awareness to many people, especially regarding our health and wellness. This article is very informative, providing essential data in achieving one’s maximum health.

    – Dan White

  6. Thankyou for the advice everyone who has wrote a comment, step 10 is vital for recovery it’ gives us that self awareness of our patterns of behaviour and thoughts, it’s like having the ability to see around corners we see the build up before it happens so we can put things right instead of acting on impulse and our emotions controlling us we have a choice by been aware.

  7. Great article, and I love the way you outline how this plays out in your daily practice you are working on. Thanks for taking the time to share this. Really helpful for me.

  8. The questions on p.86 are for the Step 11 “nightly review” – not Step 10.
    The 12 x 12 has a “day’s end” balance sheet for Step 10 – worth a look – but Step 10 is mainly about the spot check inventory – the one you do on the spot or shortly after something happens.

  9. Sitting in a Mens meeting
    ( Inglorious Bastards Scottsdale ) as I write this…
    10 and 11th step discussion .
    I downloaded the app …
    And looking forward to using it daily… thanks

  10. Hello. I tend to agree with Doris. In the program of AA, these questions part of Step 11.
    It is a common misconception in AA that I think causes some pain for the new member, thinking they have to come up with some sort of transcendental practice in order to do step 11. According to the big book, a nightly/morning review suffices for step 11.

    Step 10 is about living in the moment and knowing when something (selfishness, dishonesty, resentment or fear) pulls us out of a vibrant life. This awareness, in my experience, grows more acute the longer we practice; the ability to say “Oops” much less painful and, often, humorous-a chance to bond with others.

    When Bill W. wrote the book, the entire step 11 review was done in the morning. (Which is what works for me. I’m too tired at night.) It was only after 100 newly sober drunks edited his copy that we were stuck with a night AND morning review. (not that I have a resentment against editors, hehehe)

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