Wednesday, May 13

Step 9 – The act of amends

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”

So, here we are at step 9. This is really the action step for the amends process. Step 9 is where you go to the people you need to make amends to and engage them. This really does mean that you physically go to them.

Too often we are tempted to think thoughts like:

They won’t accept my apology anyway

It’s TOO big of a hurt for just an “I’m sorry”

It’s too soon or they are still too hurt to hear me

This is your old mindset and sometimes it’s SO hard to get yourself out of it. That’s OK. You’re not a failure if you think these things, or even if you act on these thoughts. It just means that you’re normal.

All people act, at times, from the motivation to avoid hurt and pain. Step 9 is about pushing though that in times when it matters.

The difference between step 8 and step 9 is the personal action component. In step 8 you are really talking to yourself. Now, in step 9, you are talking with another person. Someone that you’ve hurt. Someone that might not really like you right now. Someone that might be hard to even approach at this time.

I have found, for me, that simply making the initial effort to reach out with an apology, oftentimes, completely changes that other person. Keep in mind that a heartfelt apology can be life changing for anyone. How do you feel when someone that has hurt you makes the attempt? Sure, you may not WANT to hear it right now, but it will hit your heart as you come to realize how HARD that first step sometimes is.

As people, we like to hold on to our self righteousness. We LIKE to be right. An honest, sincere apology, in the face of hurt, shows humbleness and a willingness to admit that YOU WERE WRONG. That takes a lot of courage.

“Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding. Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have to be. We must not shrink at anything.”
-A.A. Big Book

Notice something about this step. This step doesn’t require that your apology be accepted by that other person. That’s not what this is about. Demanding that someone accept your apology, or feeling frustration or failure that they didn’t is simply wrong. You can only control yourself. You can only do the right thing for yourself. If your apology is not received, then you have to be content with the fact that you’ve done your part.

The 12 steps are all about making YOU a better person. It’s not about changing everyone in your life. Sometimes, it’s not the right time and you find out the hard way. That’s OK. You’ll get better and discovering the “right” time the more often you make the attempts. Sometimes, you might bring about a bit of hurt with your apology. Maybe the other person has buried the hurt and tried to just forget about it. When you get in front of them and apologize, they have to re-feel the hurt again. Know that this is OK too.

A sincere apology is a powerful thing. It can bring together people that have been split apart for a long time. Most importantly, it can heal hearts and families. Now THAT is powerful.

A word of advice though, I keep saying that you need to make it a sincere and heartfelt apology. Don’t try to half-ass this step! An apology is shite if it doesn’t come from the heart and it will make things FAR worse than had you simply not done anything.

So, keep it real and bring it from your heart and watch the beauty and power of humble, heartfelt, sincere amends.