12 Step Recovery: Mindfulness

  1. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

Steps 10-12 are the so-called maintenance steps because they have to be practiced everyday. The previous nine steps are revisited from time to time, as the addict matures into ever-deepening levels of sobriety. The last three steps, however, are the way of life that sustains our connection to the source of our recovery, our Higher Power.


The old tendencies covered in Steps 4 and 5 remain, but, now exposed, they lose their absolute power. Going forward, they are being watched and in Step 10, we are doing the watching. The recently popular term for this form of self-monitoring is mindfulness. In the 12-Step language it is called taking personal inventory. We watch ourselves, either “live,” or in a mental instant replay, but no later than a daily review.

What was my intention in that behavior? Does it remind me of anything in my Step 4 inventory? Was I overly responsible or not responsible enough? Was I too selfish or selfless? Did I adequate respect the dignity of the other? These questions have to be asked seriously but also kindly. The purpose is not to beat myself up but only to promptly admit what was discovered. Pulling anything from the darkness into the light is more than half of the solution.

You can afford to admit dubious intentions only because of the first nine steps. With an adequate Higher Power, no number of wrongs are too many! Just catch them and admit them. No shame, grudge or lasting judgment is needed.

Another term for Higher Power might be Absolute Ground. The root meaning of humility is “ground.” Now you can see why it is possible to be humble (noting and admitting our wrongs) day in and day out. There is nowhere to fall from the Absolute Ground.