Stepping Out

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it

Note: This is the fourth post on my experience of working the Twelve Steps.  The first three are here, here and here.  I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, just sharing an experience that has been important to me.

After trying let go of the zillions of things I couldn’t control in Steps 1-3 … and taking a searching and fearless moral inventory then sharing it in Steps 4-7 … I finally got to Steps 8 and 9, where I’d get to deal with everyone else.  But not as you might think.  A guiding principle of 12 Step programs is keeping your own side of the street clean.  When we take an inventory, it’s our own, not that of the people who’ve been bugging us.   Instead of confronting others, we get to make amends, regardless of what they’ve done.  It’s telling that many people who do their 4th Step using AA’s four column method … resentments in column one and who they are against in the column two … find they owe amends to many of the people on their resentment list.

Some people don’t like the whole notion of making amends.  That’s why Step 8 says we only have to become willing to make amends, not actually make them.  Me?  I was used to apologizing.  The truth, though, is that I often apologized to people so they wouldn’t be mad at me, not because I was sorry.  Besides, I was taught by my sponsor that making amends  is much more than being sorry … they include an intention not to do the same thing again.  In fact, there doesn’t even have to be a sorry because of the phrase except when to do so would injure them or others.  Suppose for example, I’ve gossiping about a colleague at work.  If I believe that making an amend would damage a relationship crucial to the business environment, I can choose to make a Living Amend.  I simply commit to stop gossiping.  It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, though, since actually making amends has great power to restore relationships.  But not always.

It was wonderful when I made an amend and it was appreciated.  It’s nice when I was forgiven.  It’s even better when I got some amends in return for the source of those resentments I found in my 4th Step.   But sometimes, I made an amend to someone and they blew me off.  No acknowledgment, no forgiveness.  Interestingly, sometimes I made amends to someone that didn’t even remember what I did.  Chances are, I didn’t harm them and no amend was needed.  But it doesn’t matter, I was doing this for me.  My side of the street was clean.  When I was done, I’d made it to Step 10, where I committed to continue the process in the future.  And I was ready for Steps 11 and 12, which to me are the real God Steps … and probably the ones I needed the most.  Which I’ll talk about next Sunday.

Explore posts in the same categories: feeling older

One Comment on “Stepping Out”

  1. territerri Says:

    I should have read this post before I left the comment asking how to achieve acceptance in life.

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