Understanding The 10th Step Promises of AA

Understanding The 10th Step Promises of AA

Many 12-steppers find the promises of the 10th step confusing early in their recovery.  Freedom tends to come in stages, and the first one is the removal of the obsession of the substances of choice.

This blog illuminates some of the common positive mental health impacts that occur with the tenth step promises.  The team at Well and Wealthy has experience in working with 12-step programs.

The tenth step is the first of the maintenance steps to keep us accountable in the present.  It calls us to continue to take personal responsibility for mistakes and to make amends as soon as possible.  This is a necessary daily step in the assurance of our spiritual progress, enhanced spiritual beliefs and growth.

This step also ensures that we remain humble and act in service of others.  It is an important part of recovery.    

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In the previous nine steps, we were on a journey to develop a spiritual connection, to conduct deep inner work to see where we have been caught up in selfishness, self-seeking behaviors and self-centered fear and to right wrongs from the past.  

This process sets a solid foundation for recovery.  It also improves mental health because it releases the heaviness of the past, the regret, the guilt, and the shame.  We get a clean slate in a way.   

Another benefit is that we have improved emotional health.  The awareness of emotional triggers increases. We begin to understand the mind-body-spirit connection. 

At the same time, our physical health can also get better but can also get worse.  Many, who are in the early stages of their recovery, gain weight because the addiction is transferred to food.  

And this makes sense. Recovery is a journey. The weight gain is an acceptable side effect during the first year. In the experience of many, continuing to work the steps 10-12 daily helps to improve health conditions over time.  Ways of dealing with early recovery realities change for many and are able to make increasingly healthier choices.

Now, the conditions of the tenth step promises.

First condition:  “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone.”

The unconscious default of “choosing to fight” stops, when we thought it was just wishful thinking before we started working the 12 steps. The acceptance that we must abstain from our substance(s) of choice is the first piece of guidance of correct thought.  

Then, there are many evolutions of acceptance as part of the journey.  The radical acceptance of the consequences of our decisions, many of which were made in a hopeless state of mind, in the throes of addiction are difficult.  

Some of these external penalties include owing thousands of dollars, not having a stable place to live, low prospects of consistent employment making a good wage, or incarceration.  

Other not-so-obvious but equally negative repercussions are loss of self-respect and self worth, dealing with the guilt and shame of harming those you love, and grieving the loss of family and friends, 

Radical acceptance of most things and everyone sounds simple.  But it is a difficult process.  It is an outcome of spiritual growth as the result of working the previous 9 steps.  

Mental and physical energy is saved as the result of radical acceptance.  This improves both physical and mental health (or as we at Well and Wealthy like to call it, mental health wealth and physical health wealth).  And a true understanding of the word serenity begins to develop.

Second condition:  “For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor.”

The insanity of obsession about our substance of choice is gone.  The growth from insanity to sanity is the sound mind grounded in reality about the parts of life that we like and don’t like.  

Our new outlook and whole attitude is so good that we have a new solution of a life based on service.  We find new freedom with our new solution.

The substance of choice is gone because it is no longer the solution.  We are no longer trying to escape.  The acceptance of the outcomes of poor choices made during addiction are clear.  

When the obsession to escape reality by using substances ends, the chance of emotional health wealth and mental health wealth begins.  The 12 steps bring about that chance.

Third condition:  “If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.”

This promise does mean that we will no longer have temptation.  It creates the space to make a decision to recoil and to make a judgment call to register in the brain that giving into temptation is a worst-case scenario decision.  

Many times our decisions to stay in recovery are based a collection of temptations occurring in seconds.

Knowing that the temptation is momentary is a blessing and leads to growing mental health wealth and emotional health wealth.

For those of us in recovery, we know all too well the long-term result of giving into temptation.  It is filled with misery, dysfunction and chaos and confusion of daily life.  The decision to recoil from temptation produces growing mental and emotional health wealth.

Fourth condition:  “We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically.” 

A wise 12-stepper once said, the number of years in recovery equals one second between an unproductive response and a productive response to an emotionally triggering situation.  

To give you an example,  misery is a common experience early in recovery.  Indeed, our solution–our substance of choice–is gone and/or no longer brings about the relief it once did.  Being constantly miserable puts us on edge.  

If a friend is 15 minutes late to an appointment to meet for coffee, it can make us enraged.  Upon seeing our friend arriving, an unproductive response would be to scream at the friend for wasting our time and disrespecting us. 

Your friend would probably interpret this as an overreaction on your part.  

A productive response is to ask your friend if everything is alright because you were concerned about their well-being over your own negative emotions about the tardiness.  

The wise 12-stepper is talking about this space–between your default tendency of rage and lashing out at your friend because of lateness and the ability to determine if there is a better decision to maintain the friendship. In this case the productive response is asking if they are okay out of concern about the friend’s safety and thinking about the friend instead of ourselves.

This promise states that with clear mental faculties grounded in reality, sanity returns.  Our reactions to common life situations are very different pre-recovery and after we made the decision to enter into recovery.  Life will involve emotional disturbances, and the ability to make a conscious choice in how to respond is the description of sanity this promise talks about.

We realize that we have a choice in how we react because it has gone from unconscious to conscious.  We are no longer reacting without thought.  Sanely responding means we have a choice in the response.  

Isolation driven by fear, fear of people, fear of everything, is often a common experience for those of us in the throes of addiction.  Economic insecurity often occurs too.  Nothing feels safe.  

This promise of clarity results after the haze clears in a few months in recovery.  We are transformed with greater amounts of spiritual, emotional and mental health wealth!

Fifth condition:  We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. 

The miracle of this promise is that the obsession of our preferred substance is gone! 

In the words of the first promise.  The obsession ceases to exist because our preferred substance is no longer the solution.  We are grateful for the gift.

Spiritual awakening through the effort of working the previous 9 steps results in this new and positive attitude. We have more head space for productive and loving thoughts and actions in service to others.  

Many of us in recovery have experienced carrying shame.  Making direct amends to those we have harmed during the 8th and 9th step process releases the shame.  

The weight of shame is lifted because of a relationship with a Higher Power.  It dissipates because we have taken ownership of our harms and sought to repair relationships.  We have taken accountability for our past wrongs.  This process produces both mental and emotional health wealth.

As a result, rebuilding relationships becomes possible and healing takes place. Through healing, there is no struggle to be had.  Spiritual health wealth enhances healing through the relationship with a Higher Power.

Sixth condition:  “We feel as though we have been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.”

The removal of the temptation brings about safety and protection is the next phase of our development

Taking the “fearless moral inventory in steps 4 and coming to terms with them instigates a renewed trust of ourselves to make productive decisions doing the right thing in our life.  We trust ourselves to build healthy relationships because they are in service to others.  The feeling of uselessness disappears.  

We begin to trust our decisions and self-respect emerges.  We start to like ourselves again.  And eventually, even love ourselves.  

In addition, we have a newfound tolerance for others and build goodwill with others because they see us evolving for the better.  All of this enhances relationship health wealth.

Seventh condition:  “We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience.”

It is magical how this promise reveals the removal of cockiness, selfishness and self-indulgence.  

We acted our way into a new way of thinking in service to others by giving up selfish things and ways.  We operate on a higher plane and as time passes, are no longer trapped into the bondage of self.

This focus on others reduced fear in making small daily decisions because we were thinking of others while making them.  The commitments made to others kept us accountable.  T

The lens of humility moves into the default position within our consciousness.  Thus, the changes of cockiness abated.  With the focus on others, our holistic health wealth usually increases at a faster pace.

Eighth condition:  “That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”

This is both a promise and a warning.  The guarantee is dependent upon effective spiritual experiences.  We cannot get lazy and stop doing the work of the steps.  Indeed, steps 10-12 are maintenance steps and spiritual principles to live by daily.  The consistent practice maintains conscious contact to our Higher Power/Creative Intelligence/God, whatever name you use. 

The 10th step is perhaps a bridge to the ninth step promises.  The new freedom and happiness from the 9th step promises occur because of the spiritual connection we received in steps one through three.  

We come to not regret because we know that without the past, the glorious abundance of the present would not be possible. The peace comes from the release of the past guilt and shame and the ongoing focus on keeping our spiritual house order through the process of taking personal inventory daily.

And sharing our own story gives purpose to it to benefit other people who are struggling with substance abuse disorders.  Consistent positive action carrying out spiritual growth and serving others on a daily basis are the magical recipe to the new freedom to live a long life of love.  

In other words, living a well and wealthy life in terms of physical health wealth, relationship health wealth, spiritual health wealth, emotional health wealth, mental health wealth.

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