Step 9 AA: When to Make Amends and When Not to

We talked about the complicated processes of self-forgiveness and self-compassion. We’ve filled you in on things that can exacerbate living amends guilt, like hindsight bias and survivors’ guilt. We’ve given you journaling exercises around coping with regret.

living amends aa

Suddenly your spinning around things you feel guilty for. Maybe it is a fight you always thought you had time to resolve. Perhaps it is something you said or did while they were ill.

Help with Examples of Making Amends

Though this cannot undo or directly compensate for the initial mistake, it can serve as living amends that comes through a different way of being in the world. In that act, your actions in their memory make you and the world a better place. When I first came to recovery, I was certain steps 8 and 9 would be a breeze. After all, I hadn’t hurt anyone (Step 8), so I didn’t need to make any amends (Step 9).

Resolve to work at making things better between you and keeping your promises. Give each other space to figure out any new roles within your relationship and take things slowly. Don’t expect immediate forgiveness, and also, don’t pressure yourself to fix every broken relationship immediately. If you promised your father to help him mow the lawn on Sundays, but years have passed, and you’ve never once shown up, start now.

What Is Step 9 of the 12-Step Program?

Making amends with the people you’ve fallen out with as you’re thinking about mortality and what happens when you die is one way of finding emotional freedom and closure. But what happens when the person you need to make amends with dies before you’re able to apologize and change your ways? Unfortunately, this scenario plays out much too often in the lives of people who didn’t get a chance to correct their mistakes and past behaviors in time. When held in the bonds of an addiction, it’s not uncommon for many relationships to feel strain, or to fall apart together.

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Living amends require a voluntary fundamental redirection. We are not tied to the old behaviors of our disease, or to our character defects. Although it sounds lofty, there are realistic, achievable ways to implement examples of making amends. Notice the words “right to resentment” and “underserved qualities” in there? It is about what we do despite that wrongdoing, “abandoning [our] right to resentment . . . “.

Work on your relationships

In fact, every day I make a living amends to my husband, son, Mom, and brother Ricky. People get tired of broken promises, of forgiving over and over and giving second and third, fourth, or fifth chances only to get hurt again. When you’re looking to change both your behavior and your broken relationships, stop making excuses to fulfill your promises. Soon, you’ll run out of reasons to give your loved ones why you’ve failed them once again. However, these promises are usually the result of deep feelings of shame, guilt, and regret and may not be genuine for some.

  • It ranged from promising to fix something around the house to going to a family gathering.
  • “I’ll never forget how light I felt after making that first amends.
  • There are three main types of amends, and it’s important to recognize which one is appropriate in a given situation.

While I did these things in active addiction, that does not take away from how wrong they were, and the pain and sense of betrayal you must have felt as a result of my actions. Along with reinforcing new behaviors and outlooks, making amends can also reduce stress. Many who lived with addiction have past behaviors they’re not proud of. By proactively correcting previous mistakes, those in recovery may be able to prevent future conflicts that could trigger a relapse.

Making amends means apologizing but also goes one step further—doing everything in your power to repair the damage, restore the relationship, and/or, replace what you took. If you’re writing a letter, whether sending or sharing it in person, spend some time reflecting on and sharing the actions you’re taking to redress the wrong(s) done. 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.

  • It can be a challenging list to write, even for those who want to embrace forgiveness and inner peace—but the list is important.
  • One of the greatest regrets some people endure is not apologizing to a loved one for past wrongs before they die.
  • Turns out, I was a bossy control freak who was terrified of everything.
  • However, they may suddenly feel guilty and decide to change their ways.
  • Rather, you need to make a more concrete and serious effort to express that you know what wrongs you have done, and that you have changed, and want to make things right.


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