Step 10 of 12: Nip It

Fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, and our hopeless need for pleasure all distort the image of reality that is reflected in our minds. Grace does not completely correct this distortion all at once, but it gives us a means of recognizing and allowing for it. And it tells us what we must do to correct it. Sincerity must be bought with a price: The humility to recognize our innumerable errors, and the fidelity in tirelessly setting them right. --Thomas Merton

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

One of the benefits of 12-Step spirituality is that it provides us an opportunity to come to terms with who we are. We may start the journey "in a dark wilderness," as Dante wrote, but we can avail ourselves of a better way by surrendering our will to love, forgiveness, and mercy. We've already made in Step 4 a searching and fearless moral inventory. Step 10 is not that, but it is a realization that we are human, and we have the power to choose a path toward a new and different life.

There is an implied aspect of death and resurrection to this path. As we deny (die to) our selfishness, pettiness, anger, and fear, we claim (in rebirth) what is already ours--the power within us that is greater than ourselves. That allows us to see ourselves differently, often for the first time, as a child forgiven by a prodigal Father.

After progressing through Steps 1-9, we should have an awareness of our own personality and character traits which created the addictive and compulsive behavioral symptoms. These traits aren't going to change overnight, so we have to pay attention. We've got to "nip the bud." Our bud nip'n exercises require a certain level of detachment from our own feelings, thoughts, and distorted perceptions.

It also helps to look at ourselves with tenderheartedness. There is Sanskrit word "maitri" which refers to the unconditional loving kindness we can bring to all aspects of our experiences. Here, it would be the opposite of self-hatred. In Step 10, we should lovingly and honestly acknowledge our thoughts and feelings. Those that are unhealthy, we should continually kiss goodbye.

There is no better practice for tenderhearted detachment than meditation, which we'll cover in Step 11.