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Another Look 12 Steps Step 10 (Step 10 of the 12-Steps Program)

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problems-12-steps-step-10This is the 10th in our series of reviews of the 12-Steps addiction treatment program and how each step compares with a 12 Steps alternative approach. We understand the 12 Steps have helped many, many people over the years, and we respect that success.

We also recognize that the approach does not work for everyone. The main purpose of this series is to present some potential limitations with the 12 Steps that you may not have considered. We want to make it easy for you to understand the differences as you go through your addiction treatment research.

What is the AA 12 Steps Addiction Treatment Program?

The AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) 12 Steps program has been in existence since 1939. It was created by an alcoholic for other alcoholics, and relies on group support and behavior modification to a very large degree. It is still the main healing protocol and approach in the vast majority of addiction treatment programs (including very expensive residential treatment centers).

Since that time though, there have been many breakthroughs in psychology, spirituality and healing, but the 12 Steps have not been updated to take advantage of these advances.

With that let’s take a look at the Step 10 of the 12 Steps.

Potential Limitations of 12 Steps Step 10

Step 10 of the 12 Steps program states:

"We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

The spirit of Step 10 is one of ongoing honesty: Honesty to oneself and honesty to another. There are layers to honesty as those who have completed their 10th step can attest.

On the surface, honesty is rather straight forward. It is simply stating the obvious.

At another level, sharing one’s “microscopic truth” is uncomfortable because it can hurt, show one’s vulnerability, and expose one’s darker side.

According to Gay and Kathleen Hendricks, the microscopic truth goes to the depth of one’s core with honesty. You risk making yourself vulnerable, sharing what you don’t want, and trusting in your counterpart matching this level of intimacy. In intimate relationships, the microscopic truth is an ultimate display of commitment two people can provide to one another; in everyday life this can lead to difficulty.

Ongoing assessment is one of the most important elements in remaining clean and sober long-term.

It takes a willingness to take an honest look at oneself, and if something isn’t quite right, to take swift action.

It is humbling when a person realizes that they have committed a wrong, and admit it to another. The ability to voice one’s fault is the first step towards behavioral change.

Is it necessary for overall recovery success?

Including another person into one’s healing process is one of the key features of the 12 Step Approach. What once took place only in intimate relationships or at a therapist’s office is now enacted publicly among others. Keeping oneself comfortable with this type of disclosure can make or break recovery.

Psychologically speaking, when we include another person into the recovery process, there can be pitfalls.

Who Influences Whom?

According to the author Steven Covey, we can only influence ourselves.

Our actions can only impact us because we have direct influence on ourselves. Other people, according to Covey, are in our “circle of concern.” We may be concerned with how people think about us, but it is their thoughts only and we can not hope to change them.

All we can do is change our own.

Ponder this: would you be open to someone from a different religion trying to change your beliefs? The focus on admitting our faults to another person seems very noble. However, it is in admitting our faults to ourselves and taking the necessary action steps to fix these faults that results in solid sobriety for years to come.

Sin and Adjusting Our Aim

step-10-bullseyeSin is an old archer’s term which means "missing the mark."

When an archer sinned all they needed to do was adjust their aim and let their arrow fly once again.

When we miss the mark in our life, admit to ourselves that we did so, make the adjustments and let our arrow fly again, it spells continued behavioral change, and success – bulls-eye!

What Step 10 Might Be

The personal empowerment model differs from the 12-Step model in the sense that the most important person to admit a wrong to is oneself.

We are powerless over what other people do or not do, but we are powerful when it comes to ourselves. The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that fosters dependency: dependency on a sponsor and dependency on others to forgive our limiting deeds.

Starting with Step One, AA believes that people are powerless over their substance of abuse. An alternative, empowerment viewpoint believes that many who support a drug habit costing hundreds of dollars a day are indeed very powerful – all their resources were focused to using and in this regard they succeeded day after day.

By showing people how to channel this energy toward their own good, remarkable things can happen. This can lead to amazing success if you have the ultimate desire to stop missing the mark.

Assessing ourselves, and admitting our faults to ourselves is the first step towards issue resolution. Whose job is it to remain sober? Is it the people to whom we admit our faults or is it simply us?

Issue Resolution

The term "issue resolution" may be a new concept to many in the 12 Step recovery world.

Can our issues actually resolve?

According to the 12-Steps, this can only happen through an act of God.

Evidence-based psychological approaches tend to differ.

We have come a long way from blindly following the dictates of a program created some 80-odd years ago. Going back to our historic roots, readjusting our aim, and letting the arrow fly once again has real merit. Since we can’t change others' impression of us, no matter how hard we try, what is possible is changing our impression of ourselves.

About The Clearing

The Clearing is a residential treatment center located on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington. We created The Clearing in response to the pervasiveness of treatment centers that focus more on luxury than modern, evidence-based therapy.

Our approach is based on healing the underlying core issues that cause addiction. If you'd like to learn more, contact us, or download our free eBook:

Free eBook Download:  Another Look at the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous


  Download eBook:  Healing Underlying Core Issues  

Image Courtesy: RecoveryShare.com

Gregg Makuch

This post was written by Gregg Makuch

Gregg helps get the word out about The Clearing. When he’s not riding his bike and enjoying the beauty of the San Juan Islands, Gregg loves to cook and spend time with his family.

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