Natalie, Joleen & Teri have done a great job of explaining the Steps & have given some great exercises to do along the way. I hope you'll get a chance to do some of them. Let's continue our discussion.... Step 8: "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all."
This step is a preparation process to make amends to others in our life. We examine our relationships and prepare to repair damage done in the past and heal the past with others. We decide that saying "I'm sorry for my behavior" is necessary. This step is about deciding honesty and truth over secrecy and deceit. Keep in mind that during this step, lists are made of those you want to apologize to and why you want to apologize. This is not the step to take the action of apologizing just yet.
This step is to be eye-opening so that you see in apologizing to others for hurting them, this allows you personally to move forward & not continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over in relationships. If the problem you've decided to work on has been a critical/controlling spirit, or procrastination, or being self-absorbed, this is the step to make the list of people you need to make amends to who have been negatively affected by your behavior.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
This step is the following through of Step 8. Here is where you apologize, make phone calls, meet face-to-face and say "I'm sorry". In this Step, the discipline of honesty is created. Through this Step you try to heal an area that was once broken.
This step takes alot of courage. It's not easy to go to someone & say, "I know I've hurt you. I know my behavior has affected you in this manner. I apologize". This is hard! However, despite any embarrassment or fear, an apology still must be made. Sometimes amends cannot be made because the person who you want to apologize to has died or refuses to speak to you. Or, sometimes it can be inappropriate to speak to someone because it can cause a relapse in recovery or, as in the case of infidelity, to have contact with someone would be a boundary violation. If apologizing to someone causes more damage than repair, then feel free to share your amends with a sponsor, minister or counselor.
When making amends, try to do so at the first opportunity that arises. Keep in mind when apologizing to remain humble & know what you want to say beforehand. Remember to take responsibility for your actions and not blame the other person at all. Stay open to any response you receive from others....you're not there to make them forgive you. You're there to practice the discipline of honesty & making amends.
I hope you're well on your way of understanding how the 12 Steps can be applied in everyday life. As always, it's great to have you as a reader. Thank you.
Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.