Intro Step 9
This is an online Step Study. Each of the 12 steps will have its own thread, so you can participate at whatever level you are comfortable and discuss your own experience with concepts in each step. It’s a combination and compilation of step studies – some from Al Anon, some from Nar Anon and some from CODA.
Sources include Paths To Recovery, Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts ©1997and How Al Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics ©1995, along with some readings from Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al Anon II ©1992.
Each of us works the steps in our time, and in our own manner. Most often, step work is done by those who attend face-to-face meetings and have a sponsor. That doesn’t mean that you MUST, it’s just a suggestion. Please don’t feel as though you must rush thru these steps… it took some of us a few years in the program before we began, and we found ourselves stuck on at least one of the steps for a year or more. The questions and postings here will be an outline, a framework from which you can begin your journey. If nothing else, the questions will provoke some thought and self-reflection, and some great discussions and dialogue.
Others who have worked the steps before may find that they wish to do the steps again. Many people who work one step per month every year – 12 steps for 12 months. The more you learn about yourself, the more you know, and the more you wish to learn!
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step Nine is an action step in which we become humble enough to verbalize our regrets, if appropriate, to the people we’ve harmed. Identifying the persons we have harmed in Step 8 took courage. Because of our thoroughness, we build character by calling upon our Higher Power for the courage to change the things we can. We cannot undo our past and we cannot expect those we approach to respond positively, but we can admit our part and do whatever is possible to mitigate the consequences of our past errors.
In making amends, we need to understand that we’re not necessarily making an apology. There are differences between amends and apologies. In making an apology, we usually say, “I’m sorry” expecting a response of acceptance, pardon or forgiveness. In making amends, we may state our errors, our role in the incident and that we will correct their behavior for the future. We may or may not ask for forgiveness, and we may or may not experience a positive response. In many cases our changed behavior indicated stronger amends than words can ever be. If we have any expectation of the response to amends, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves or discuss in our groups to assist us in proceeding with making our amends.
Which people on my list do I need to make direct amends to first? What’s stopping me?
How can I plan what I am going to say in my direct amends to be clear and concise and to avoid blaming any other person?
What doubts do I have about my amends injuring someone? Can I discuss these doubts with my sponsor? Pray to be guided? Write about them?
What are my motives for making amends? Am I willing to accept the outcome, whatever it may be?
What is the difference between an apology and making amends? Which amends will be best done by changes in my behavior?
How can I be sure I am not just ducking an embarrassing situation?
What amends am I putting off? Why?
Do I have any amends to make that could result in serious consequences for my family, like loss of employment or a prison term? How can I use my sponsor or a trusted friend to help me sort these things out?
Who on my amends list will never be available for direct amends? Can I make amends in another way? Can I do something for another person?
What harm have I done to my children or immediate family? Can I make some amends by respecting them now as adults?
Am I willing to pray to become willing to make amends in the future?
How can I forgive myself for all the difficulties I have caused myself? What can I do this week to begin my amends to myself?
Could I write an amends letter to myself?
When I have finished this action step, what can I do to celebrate? Have I remembered to appreciate and reward my good deeds? The good deeds of others?
What other people think of me is really none of my business!