“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
We have all been, at one point or another, in a situation in which we said something insensitive or insulting to someone else. Regardless of whether we had ill intentions or not, we immediately realize what we did. Internally, we recognize that our words were damaging. At this point, we reach a fork in the road. There are two paths that people tend to go down.
The first path is that of doubling-down. In efforts to protect our egos, we may try to see how our insensitive words were justified. In other words, we would rather hurt someone else than admit to ourselves that we can make errors and mistakes; that we are imperfect. We connect with our creative side to find any possible reasoning whatsoever that we were right to say what we did.
The second path is that of accountability. On this path, we recognize that we said something hurtful and, albeit difficult, own up to our behavior. We immediately apologize to the other for our insensitive words, acknowledging our transgression. In doing so, we accept that we are imperfect, for we are human beings capable of mistakes like anyone else. This is the path we continually choose to take in step ten.
It is important to note that, just as in step nine, we are owning up to our wrongs not solely for the other person, but for ourselves. When we are aware of the wrongs we have committed but do nothing to rectify them, we place a burden on our conscious. This burden festers and grows into resentments and anger, whether directed at ourselves or others. In recovery, it is not difficult to imagine how this slippery slope leads to relapse.
It is important to accept that some people may not forgive us or remain angry by our actions. While difficult to sit with, that’s okay. Even if the other person continues holding onto their anger, that is not your problem. You did your part to make things right.
Sometimes, you will not recognize a transgression in the moment. Perhaps you start thinking about it later that day, the next morning, or later that week. Regardless of when it happened, the important part in step ten is to reach out to the other person involved and apologize for your actions as soon as you come to realize how what you did may have hurt them. It is difficult to admit when we’re wrong. Our ego works hard to maintain a narrative that we’re self-righteous and perfect. However, we’re not. Nobody is. Although difficult to admit when we’re wrong, we find in step ten that this type of admission helps maintain mental clarity and is essential to our continued recovery.
By Jonathan Fricke, MA