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Discipline and Step 10

Editor’s note: this month we hear from two fellows who share their experience on Step 10. 

Surrender to the AA program took place in three stages. The first, in July 1993, was a surrender to what I saw as the AA way of life: meetings, sponsorship, steps, and service. This surrender was borne of a mixture of fear and common sense. I was frightened of dying of alcoholism, and common sense suggested that what works for other AA members would work for me, at the very least to keep me sober. The second surrender was the surrender to God in Step Three, which represented a switch from me using the AA suggestions as a way to manage my life more effectively to an abandonment of any notion of ‘my’ life whatsoever. It was now God’s, to do with as He pleased. The Steps are something like a rope bridge over an abyss in the fog. Only a little ahead can one see well; further ahead, only dimly; and furthest ahead, not at all. As I took Step Seven, the later Steps hove properly into view for the first time, and I started to understand that the rest of my life would consist in serving God—and serving only God, not self—with Step Eleven as the powerhouse and Step Ten as the constant pruning, training, and repotting mechanism (to use gardening metaphors). This was the third surrender. Step Ten is a discipline that cuts away the constantly regrowing weeds of selfishness, cowardice, vanity, conceit, sensualism, materialism, and cynicism that are the enemies not only of my welfare but of the mission with which I’ve been entrusted by God as a substitute for my active alcoholism. One glimpses only faintly and fitfully God’s purpose, but I’ve learned to trust that my purpose is perfectly fulfilled by devoting each day to doing God’s will—and only God’s will.

– Tim M.


I like to compare Step Ten to graduating from University and then entering the working world. It is now time to apply all of that education that I have learned as a result of doing Steps One through Nine. In practicing Step Ten, I get up and go to work everyday and in doing so, I have to be conscious of my co-workers. I have to show up at the job of life with a clean slate everyday. Much like showing up to work without a hangover, either emotional or physical. I’m called to do my job, which in sobriety is being of service and doing my best in all of my endeavors. I try not to let negative emotions guide my day. One great way to do this is to do those little spot checks, where, I see how I am feeling, if I am out of sink, I have to ask myself why? And then proceed to rectify it by, forgiving myself or another person and then trying to begin my day again.

At this point in my sobriety, I want to practice being patient, tolerant, loving and kind. When I am not those things, I want to have the awareness to check in with myself and see how and why I am not practicing these things and quickly get back to center. Most of the time there is something wrong with me when I am disturbed.

I have to remember to practice restraint of pen and tongue. This was quite difficult for me to do at first. But over over the years I have learned nice little tricks. One is writing an email to a person who has upset me and never sending it. One trick with this email message that I have learned is never to fill in an address. I have to ask myself how important is it for me to tell this person how I feel or what they did. I find that the more time that elapses after writing the email, the more the feelings wane, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, but almost always they go away.

As an alcoholic, I have lost of justified anger. When something is not fare, when someone hurts me, when I am disappointed. This however does not give me grounds to hold a resentment against a person or an institution. I am an alcoholic and can not afford to hold resentments. I have to forgive that person or situation and move on. I need the peace of mind and the space in my mind that forgiveness brings. Resentments take up too much space in my mind and the prevent me from living a carefree life. Lastly, at the end of the day, I want to review my behavior and see where I could have done better and also see where I have been ok. I must weigh the good with bad and tomorrow is always an opportunity to do better.

– Willy W.

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