Archive for the 8th Step Category
The Ninth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that we make amends to those we have harmed. We make direct amends wherever possible, focusing on the exact nature of our wrongs. We take accountability for our actions. However, there is far more to amends than just making a direct amends.
Living amends is the practice of changing our behavior. We must not just rely on direct amends to change our lives. The essence of the ninth step and amends is to amend our behavior. If we make direct amends, but continue behaving in that way, then we really aren’t amending anything at all!
The word amend means to improve upon or to make better. Knowing this, we recognize that making amends has to do with changing our behavior. When we go through the 6th and 7th Steps, we become willing to let our character defects go. For alcoholics and addicts, our character defects have often been driving our actions for a period of time. When we become willing to and humbly ask our Higher Power to remove these defects, we must also take action. God can move mountains, but we must bring shovels!
Amending our behavior is simple, but not easy. We must look at where our behaviors are harming us and others. Recognizing these behaviors, we must act in the opposite way. For example, if we are asking to be freed of selfishness, we must act selflessly. Taking the action, we leave the rest up to our Higher Power. When we make direct amends to somebody, we must follow it up by behaving in a new way.
Looking at our character defects that cause harm to others, we practice the opposite of each one. There are opportunities every day to practice good qualities, both with the person we have harmed, and with everyone else in our lives. In this way, our behavior changed, and we no longer are causing harm to those around us.
“Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose. When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures than are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects, or, if you wish, our sins”
Many meetings across the country read the beginning of Chapter Five, entitled “How it Works.” A part of the reading says, “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.” This is important to remember both for newcomers and those with time.
I see newcomers who are homeless, struggling to eat, and an emotional wreck inside. I ask if they are truly willing to go to any lengths necessary to get better. I know I was. Whatever my sponsor suggested, I did, even if I did not see the purpose.
Although when I was new I was able to see this, I have had times where I have forgotten this. Later in the book, in Chapter Six, the book says, “Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.”
I must remind myself at times that I had conceded to my innermost self that I was alcoholic. I must work today as hard for my sobriety as I did when I first got sober.