“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”; the 9th step of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). By now you have made it through the first 8 steps, congratulations, you have almost made it! There are some important things you must know and do to successfully make 9th step amends.
To work the 12 steps effectively, specifically step nine, you should have a sponsor or someone that has already worked the steps to help you and more importantly be there to support you. Do not try to attempt to work step nine without a sponsor, therapist, or spiritual advisor. Your sponsor can help walk you through this by asking you about your goals in making amends, how you plan to do it, and when. This person should have already worked on step nine, so they understand what it takes and can help guide you through it.
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What Does Making Amends Mean?
Amends is a compensation for a loss, injury, or damage of any kind. Some of the steps you take to make amends include:
- Make a list of the harm or damage you have caused.
- Be willing to repair it.
- Admit you’re wrongdoings.
- Figure out the best way to repair the damage.
- Be patient about gaining the other person’s trust back.
Before you start working step nine, you must have already completed step eight. Step eight says “Made a list of all the people we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” You cannot work the 9th step effectively without doing step eight first.
Types of Twelve-Step Amends
You should know that there are three different kinds of amends: direct amends, indirect amends, and living amends. Direct amends involves taking responsibility for your actions and directly confronting the person you’ve harmed. Indirect amends is finding a way to repair the hurt and damage by doing something other than directly confronting the person like helping others. Living amends is making a change in your life. It is showing others that you have changed your life around and have made a commitment to yourself to end your previous destructive behaviors.
Direct Amends in Recovery
Making direct amends could be a simple “I’m sorry, and I’m working hard to change my life around and make sure it never happens again.” Sometimes it could be repaying money that you owe or promising to pay along with an apology and the assurance that you are working hard to change your ways.
However, it’s not always a good idea to make direct amends, that’s why the second half of the step says “except when to do so would injure them or others.” If the harm you have done is so severe that it could cause more problems, then no matter how good your intentions are, it’s probably best that you don’t make direct amends. It’s possible that the other person is unaware of the harm you have caused them, and making direct amends would make them aware and hurt them badly.
Another instance where making direct amends may not be a good idea is if admitting your wrongs could jeopardize your freedom, which could hurt your loved ones. However, if after talking with your sponsor you decide to proceed anyway, make sure you have spoken to your family especially if you are the head of the household or primary source of income. You don’t want to do more harm than good. Also, it may not be a good idea to make direct amends if it could potentially stir something up.
Indirect Amends And Living Amends
Sometimes an indirect or living amends is the best you can do. Of course, if you can make direct amends you should do so; this is why having a sponsor or advisor to help give you direction is so important. If you aren’t able to make direct amends, then you can volunteer your time or help someone else out. Making amends is more than just an apology, it’s changing your life around and changing your ways; eliminating the destructive behaviors that were once part of your life.
Step nine is one of the scariest steps but isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be. Most people are going to be receptive. Not everyone will be, but that’s not something you can’t worry about. You’ve done your part and attempted to make amends; this is your recovery, not theirs. For a lot of people, step nine is key on the road to recovery. It is a change for the better!
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling has evidence-based treatment to help you recreate your life. What are you waiting for? Call us today!