Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Our human inclination is to “cut to the chase” and do what we need to do to “get on with it.” If we fix a situation maybe it will go away.
The 12-Step process cannot be short cut to meet our personal demands or expectations. Moreover, having gone through the steps, a person has been on a steady, unselfish, honest and soul-searching mission. Step 9 might take some time, because it is entirely “others” focused and personal agendas must take a back seat.
Even though we have made a list of people we have harmed in the last step, making contact with those people is another matter. There may be risk involved, as old hurts, old feelings and our past actions may be there to greet us with a renewed freshness brought on by our willingness to make amends and ask for forgiveness. Unlike Step 8 where we made a list, now we have to move beyond a piece of paper and into the real world to face our history. It might be by letter to someone you have lost contact with, or by e-mail. Still some situations may require a face-to-face meeting. Whatever the case, we need to admit our wrongs and offer to make amends.
Our apologies, our offers and our sincere efforts may be rejected. We have to be ready to accept that possibility. The focus is on the other person, so you can see that this is not something that can be manipulated to put a check on our list of tasks completed. The meeting or contact may go badly, and that’s just a part of it, so be prepared to face whatever comes.
Forgiving and Accepting Ourselves
Another component of this step is forgiving ourselves and accepting ourselves, and having faced ourselves first, we are now prepared to face the other person. What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? The other person may have a completely different recollection of events from yours, and you need to be prepared to listen and hear what they have to say. When we use people or harm them we do not allow their thoughts and feelings to come into the exchange, mainly because in our addictive state it’s all about us.
Maybe they’ve never been heard.
Maybe they haven’t been allowed any access to you.
Give them time and opportunity. This can be a tremendous time of healing for both of you. Amends may just be the opportunity to talk it out, or it may require the reimbursement of money, a service to be provided, or in some cases nothing at all needs to happen other than the contact with the other person.
Seek Help From Your Accountability Partner
Your accountability partner from Step 5 may be an important guide for you during this step, and can help you prioritize, help you with approaches and most of all keep you on track. What is a realistic expectation? Am I being sincere and honest? Maybe that person will challenge your motivation, or your approach. Maybe your partner can suggest an alternative approach, or in a way act as a coach to support you.
By the time you’ve reached this stage, you have probably already experienced the power in God’s forgiveness. You have opened yourself up to His leading, caring only that He does His will in your life. Because of that, whatever the consequences, whatever the outcome of the contacts made during this step, God is still in control, still doing His work and we need to continue to trust Him.
Once you have gone through your entire list: You have completed Step 9 and can go to Step 10.