Steps 10 and 11: Continuing Action
Step 10: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Step 10 is a continuation of the process that started at Step 4 when one takes a moral inventory of one’s past. Sober addicts accept that they’re human; they inevitably will make mistakes, get angry, feel resentful and hurt. But rather than dwell on these negative emotions, which could prompt seeking relief in a first drink or drug, they have to defuse them through a daily practice which identifies shortcomings and rectifies them. It’s the task of a lifetime, not a one-shot deal.
Most sober addicts I’ve known try to take a nightly inventory of their day to identify whom they’ve harmed and must make amends to. As the Big Book suggests, “When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better?”
The comes Step 11: “After making our review, we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.”
Upon waking, AA suggests prayer and meditation about the day ahead in order to set the stage for taking the right course of action throughout the day. If unsure of what to do, “we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision.” It’s suggested that prayer be for freedom of self-will, that, “Thy will be done, not mine,” and never for selfish ends. If confronted with challenges during the day, one is directed to pause and pray to be shown the next right thought or action.
Step 11 is a two-way street. “Prayer,” I’ve often heard said, “is talking to your Higher Power. Meditation is listening.”