Being an addict (or a non-addict who struggles with hang ups of their own) does not mean that you don’t believe in God. It does not mean that you don’t love God. It does not mean that you don’t have a relationship with God. Being an addict does not mean that you don’t pray to God. Being an addict can mean that you are not unified with God.
Step Ten is, at its core, being humble enough to admit when you’re wrong. This Step does two things. First, it serves to prevent conflicts and hurts from becoming so big that amends (Step Eight and Nine type of amends) are needed. How? Because by being humble and admitting you’re wrong, you open the door in the moment for relational restoration. That’s the second thing. Not speaking your feelings + time = resentment. And the bigger resentment grows, and more space it creates between people. Step Ten, when worked daily, can short circuit that process and keep relationships in tact!
In Step Nine, you make direct amends to those you’ve hurt. If making those amends would hurt the person further, or if making amends is no longer possible due to death or geography, an indirect amends is made.
For so many addicts, the hurt that they have caused others and that they have been unwilling to face acts as fuel for the addiction. They feel great shame and guilt about what they’ve done, so they reach for sex or lust to numb those feelings. For the non-addict, running from past hurts you’ve caused others can be the same. You don’t want to face the shame and guilt, so you cut off or isolate. Step Eight is all about beginning the process of freeing yourself from past mistakes.
In addition to taking these Steps with the help of your sponsor and your community, you also take Step Seven over and over again. Anytime you encounter conflict or heightened feelings, no matter what the other person did, if you are disturbed, there’s always a part you’ve played. “What’s my part in this” is a question that every addict and non-addict would do well to ask about any conflict.
Step Six is all about surrendering the right to hang on to our defects. If you’re reading this in the USA, you know that, addict or non-addict, we are a people that proclaims and holds on to our independence fiercely. What is our is ours and you won’t take it and we won’t give it up! In the previous steps, you can see that surrender is happening at each level. Here, it continues to the point that you become ready to surrender aspects of your own personality that may have become a core part of who you are.
At each Step, you surrender something. At the Fifth, you surrender the right to the wrong and hurtful attitudes and actions and the isolation that it brought you.
For many addicts, actually going to a meeting isn’t that hard. After all, they’ve been practicing first order change for a while! A family member calls them out on their behavior so they change temporarily. A boss disciplines them for not showing up, so they set their alarm for thirty minutes earlier for a month. So, someone tells them that the have a problem and, to get that person off of their back, they attend some meetings. They came.
There are two types of changes that happen in a person’s life. The first type of change, which we’ll call “first order change”, involves the changing of one’s behavior. The second type of change, which we’ll call “second order change”, also results in the changing of behaviors. The difference between the two is what motivates the change. First order change is motivated by a desire to avoid the consequences of one’s actions. So the person changes what they do so the they don’t have to pay the price for it. Second order change is motivated by a shift in a person’s heart that causes them to change who they are. And if you change who you are, what you do will follow. Changing behaviors to avoid getting caught lasts only as long as the threat of being found out. But a change in a person’s heart is the fertile soil that can grow a mighty redwood that can last a lifetime.