This Way of Living

Working Steps 10, 11, and 12.
Building a personal practice.
Creating a small group practice.

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Why do we suggest small private groups?
When we do Step 10 with other people, why don't we do it in a 12-Step meeting?

This is our experience. Your experience may of course be different.

In small private groups, it's possible to find the trust and intimacy that must accompany the working of Step 10.

We do Step 10 by ourselves as a constant practice, just as the AA Big Book suggests on page 84. But part of Step 10 is the discussion of our selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear with someone else. Obviously, if we need to do this part of the Step, we have to interact with another person.

This can only be done wholeheartedly in a situation of trust. That is why our attempts to do Step 10 in large meetings can be unsatisfactory. We may be sitting next to a complete stranger, and we may quite understandably be reluctant to talk about our mistakes and our fears with someone we don't know. In small private groups, trust comes more easily.

Intimacy is what permits discussion of our deepest fears. And the discussion in turn deepens that intimacy. This is why our group members are of the same sex. It is easy to mistake physical attraction for intimacy. A same-sex group can't prevent that mistake, but it goes some way towards doing so.

Small 12-Step groups
It's worth mentioning that some of us have found this sort of closeness in a few 12-Step groups as well. But these are highly unusual 12-Step groups. They deal with an addiction that most people refuse even to acknowledge in others, much less in themselves. As a result, attendance is very low, and that encourages the trust and intimacy that we talk about here.

No advice
The discussion part of Step 10 is not the exchanging of advice. Because we are beyond human aid ourselves, we don't know what we should do, much less what other people should do. So the discussion consists in sharing our feelings, and then listening while the other person shares his or her feelings.

In 12-Step meetings, by contrast, some people are inclined to offer advice, even if that's done using crosstalk. Practicing Step 10 in such a meeting may tend to encourage this kind of unwanted advice.

Here you'll find an example of Guidelines for small private groups. This was used to create, guide, and maintain one such small private group.

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