It would be very self-defeating if we were to allow new guilt and shame to build up and replace that which we have just eliminated through the work done in previous steps. While you are striving to have your higher power remove all your character defects in your daily life, perfection has yet to be achieved in the rooms of twelve step recovery, and we all fall short and make mistakes along the way. As a result, there will be times in your recovery where you have done wrong and hurt someone else. The tenth step is how we keep our side of the street clean so we can maintain our peace of mind in sobriety. Let’s look at some “best practices” to keep in mind as you begin working a regular tenth step.
The first thing you need to understand about the tenth step is that it is one of those steps which you will work every day for the rest of your life. A person who manages to proceed through life without harming anyone else is a frontrunner for a sainthood nomination, and most of us addicts and alcoholics in recovery are still a far way off from being saints! Ask those with double digit sobriety time in the rooms of recovery and they will tell you they still work a regular tenth step. This is one of the reasons they have managed to stay sober for so long - they put in the work required to maintain their peace of mind, cleaning their side of the street any time they have done wrong before the rubbish piles up in their minds and leads them to relapse.
How exactly should you go about working a daily tenth step? As you begin your day, ask your higher power to help guide you in your activities and interactions with others so you and those around you may be kept safe from harm. During the day if you are feeling “off” or out of balance with your surroundings, take time to pause, meditate, and reflect on what is knocking you off center. Perhaps it is guilt or anxiety surrounding some decision or communication with someone else which occurred today. Jot down what you believe to be the root of your disharmony, pray for help to live better for the rest of the day, and continue on in your daily activities. At the end of the day, review anything which you took note of that day and write out a tenth step amends list. As soon as possible, reach out to anyone on that list and apologize for what you did that was wrong. This is how you avoid the reaccumulation of guilt and shame which would surely sabotage your sobriety.
The eighth and ninth steps allowed us to clear away the guilt and shame which had built up over the course of our lives until recently. Now, it is important to keep our minds clear of these negative emotions, and the way we do that is through working a regular tenth step. You will find as you continue to live in sobriety, there are less and less items on your daily tenth step inventory, until it becomes a weekly tenth step rather than a daily task. However, there will never come a time when you do not have to work a tenth step on a regular basis. You should take pleasure in the opportunity to make amends for any wrongs you unintentionally committed during the course of your day or week. Keeping a positive perspective and maintaining your commitment to working a regular tenth step will ensure you remain stable and safe in your recovery!