The antidote to harms is to make amends – change that part of ourselves that allowed us to hurt other people. We focus on changing how we behave in the here and now.
On page 69 of the AABB, the authors state:
“We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm, provided that we do not bring about still more harm in so doing.”
But “wrong” here does not have a moral overtone, but a selfish one. A “wrong” action or thought is an action where we were thinking entirely of ourselves. As addicts, we are extreme examples of “self-will run riot….and we must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!” (pp. 62)
If I have an outstanding apology, it must be made as soon as practicable once the review has been completed.
4 Absolutes: God’s will vs. self-will:
To determine if we need to make an amends, we can test our actions based on the 4 Absolutes. The four absolutes provide a simple, straight forward way to evaluate whether our thoughts, words or actions are self-centered or God-centered.
Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? These shortcomings are based on self-will.
To test for God’s will, we ask the opposite: was I unselfish, honest, pure and loving?
For each person on our list that we harmed ask: “How can you make amends to this person?”
Before and after making amends, we need to make sure to review and discuss each specific amends and ensure that they are appropriate.
Step Nine is an ongoing process. Living in God’s will, cleaning up the wreckage of the past and helping others repays our debt will produce a spiritual transformation sufficient for recovery. But, the spiritual life is not a theory, WE HAVE TO LIVE IT. (pp. 83) To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action. (93)
It is recommended that before any amends are made that one read Pg. 76-84 in AA BB and Step 8 & 9 in the 12& 12 and Little Red Book.
What if I am unwilling to make an amends?
If I am still unwilling for any reason to make an amends, I pray and ask God for guidance.
With prayer and contemplation, I ask myself:
Do I still hold resentment toward that person?
Are my pride and/or fear blocking me from doing it?
Could it harm another or open an old hurt for them?
Could it cause problems with that person’s current relations?
If the answer is not yet clear I seek guidance from my sponsor and spiritual mentors.
Silence, prayer, and patience are critical to make amends: I wait for an intuitive thought, insight and inspiration. In the stillness and the quiet, God will reveal what I need to do to take the next right step.
As it says in the AA BB: “Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.” (pp. 85) We must carry the vision of God’s will into all our activities: “How can I best serve Thee–Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. (pp. 85)
AA Big Book
The 4 Absolutes Pamphlet.
AATOW step guide
(All of these references are available on the blog.)