In Step Nine, I put into practice the principles of the first eight steps: powerlessness, restoration to sanity, surrender, inventory of wrongs, willingness, and seeking help. To all to this I add amends.
The word AMEND means “to change.” It is admitting to people I have wronged that I know and understand the pain I have caused, and that I am committed to changing my behavior so that I will avoid causing any more pain. DIRECT amends will go to these people personally or write them a letter. When I am face-to-face, I need to have the previous steps’ principles at work in us to be able to accomplish our goal.
Step Nine offers me the opportunity to become free from the past. I can heal my relationships with others, with God, and with myself.
The positive healing outcome of my relationship was years in making. In the same way, I have been through the pain of addiction, and now I am on a path of recovery that takes time. I must be willing to repair and resolve whatever has broken down in the relationship, even if the other rejects my offer to do so. My willingness to go the extra mile is part of the spirit of Step Nine.
In Step Nine, I also became more realistic about myself and clean my side of the street. I am willing and open, God seems to give me a nudge to remind me of past promises on which I have not followed through Step Nine gives me the assignment of remembering and acting on this.
MAKING DIRECT AMENDS WHERE POSSIBLE really challenges me to take opposite action from what my addictive personality would do automatically. Addicting behavior would be to cover up, hide, and avoid seeing anyone who might be angry with me or upset by my actions.
Jesus knew that if there is a broken relationship with resentment on one or both sides, I am not spiritually free to worship God. The harmed person could also put that resentment into action and create great pain for me in retaliation. Spiritual and physical bondage are the consequences of harming others with no attempt to repair it. I learn to set right, to the best of my ability, the situations in which I have caused hurt I actually change my behavior to stop the harmful results, I am turning from the old addictive pattern to new recovery behavior.
Step Nine places an astounding call on my lives to repair my relationships, transform my inner self and learn a new way of living. When I confront the utter self-centeredness which has motivated the actions, drives, goals, and feelings of my life, I may be daunted by this enormity of the recovery life.
My response must be to allow God to do his work in me by surrendering the outcomes and simply taken action. Recovery is possible if I stay the course and take one day at a time.
Working the first eight steps creates a readiness and willingness to ASSESS our past mistakes even when this is uncomfortable. In Step Nine, we actually TAKE ACTION TO CORRECT them. We are in the process of spiritual development, and making amends is the first public display of my recovery from addiction and sin.
The person who can make direct amends visibly shows humility, compassion, and the realization of my place before God. Salvation comes as I start to think more of others than of myself.
The amends process in Step Eight and Nine brings out the “unfinished business” in my life. I may discover past traumas that must be faced and dealt with if I am to maintain my recovery. I need to talk to my sponsor, counselor, or other trusted advisor so that I am not working with such issues alone, but I must be dealt with and resolved or they will follow me daily as though I were chained to them. I may not have caused or asked for these traumas to occur but I may have to make amends to myself for playing the victim or curtailing my life as a result of trauma. Step Nine allows me a new kind of freedom with myself, other people, and God.
Restoration of relationship with self is an important outcome of Step Nine. There is no more need to run when I have gone face-to-face with those I have harmed and sought to make things right with them. I no longer need to run because the slate is clean. I have no longer need to speculate about forgiveness--we have forgiveness.
STEP NINE: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.”
SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE: Love for others “genuine affection, caring, giving, service, providing for your fellows.”
SPIRITUAL DEFINITION OF LOVE: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
NINTH STEP PRAYER:
God, give me the strength and direction to do the right thing no matter what the consequences may be. Help me to consult with others before I take any actions that would cause me to be sorry. Help me to consult with others before I take any actions that would cause me to be sorry. Help me to not repeat such behaviors. Show me the way of Patience, Tolerance, Kindliness, and Love and help me live the spiritual life. AMEN. (p. 78-80 AABB)
A NINTH PRAYER
“God, with regard to this amend; give me the strength, courage and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. Help me not to shrink from anything. Help me not to delay if it can be avoided. Help me to be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping.” (79:1, 83:3)
SUGGESTED READING FOR THE NINTH STEP
AA Big Book (p 76-84), Into Action
OA 12 Steps and 12 Traditions (p. 76-81)
The AA Big Book information that I am sharing is from Lawrie Cherniack (5-6-08)
And the Big Book FINALLY, gives us really good promises. We haven’t had great ones up to now (Step Three--an effect will be felt; Step Four--we have learned about our character defects; Step Five--some better ones--we will feel peace and ease; none for Steps Six and Seven). Halfway through Step Nine come the Promises (page 83), which many of us know well. (By the way, people keep trying to find Twelve Promises. There are three different ways of find them. I’m giving my favorite way.)
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.
1. We are going to know a freedom and a new happiness.
2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
3. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
4. No matter how far down the scale, we have gone, we WILL SEE how our experience can benefit others.
5. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
6. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
7. Self-seeking will slip away.
8. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will CHANGE.
9. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
10. We will intuitively know how how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
11. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us--sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
12. They will always materialize if we work for them.
These are the promises! Look how they promise nothing about our environment or our financial situation or anything practical. What they basically say is that we have had a spiritual awakening that has made us into different people, and that we are now able to learn from the past instead of dwelling on it in misery, and can live in the present with serenity and love. It is precisely the promise of the Appendix on Spiritual Experience: we have had “a profound alteration” in our “attitude to life.” What marvelous promises they are! And they come true.
THE “HIDDEN” PROMISES:
Now with the promise of a spiritual awakening halfway through Step Nine comes the fulfillment of the promise made to compulsive eater in Step Two,--that the miracle will happen and our trigger foods and eating behaviors will not longer tempt us. Here are the Hidden Promises, found on pages 84 and 85.
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone--even alcohol (compulsive eating). For by this true sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor (food). If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We act sanely and normally, we will find that this has happened automatically, we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor (food) has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just come! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality, safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience.
This is what we’ve been wading for! This is why we joined OA in the first place. The mental obsession/insanity has been released from us. We’re really sane!
OA 12 STEPS AND 12 TRADITIONS
Step nine has freed us from the shackles of our past mistakes, as we frankly acknowledging our faults, and taking direct action to remedy the damage we did or repay the losses we caused. Even so our fears may make us want to procrastinate. By putting off making our amends would immobilize us and threaten our recover from compulsive eating. As soon as we become willing in step eight, we need to move ahead quickly and act on willingness.
Many of us have found it advisable to discuss the actions with a sponsor or other person who understands the twelve-step way of life. Now we need to resolve any lingering questions and doubts as to how we should proceed by checking out our words and actions ahead of time with someone more experienced than we are, someone who is detached from the situation.
The purpose of step nine is to clear away guilt and ill will so that we can establish better relationships with people whom our lives have touched. We’ll need to acknowledge the specific harm we’ve done apologize, make appropriate restitution, and change our behavior toward them in the future.
We must let go of any expectations we may have of how the other people will receive us. We cannot control how others receive our amends. They don’t owe us forgiveness and we don’t need it to complete step nine and recover from compulsive eating. Our only job is to clear off our side of the street by doing whatever we can to right our wrongs. Having done so, we no longer need to feel any guilt or anger about these situations.
Clearing off our side requires us to be sincere and direct in our approach to the people we’ve hurt. We need to remember that we owe the victims of our wrong actions an honest and straight-forward acknowledgment of our mistakes.
Having forgiven these people in step eight, we now stick to a simply worded statement of the WE did to cause THEM harm, and we express our sincere regrets. We avoid excuses, dramatizations, or detailing rehashing of events surrounding our actions. If we have lied to someone or about someone, we should now set the record straight, providing we can do so without causing further harm.
To amend something means to change it. We complete our amends for our wrongful actions of the past by changing our actions in the future. It is important when making amends to ourselves and those people close to us whom we repeatedly harmed by our patterns of behaviors. We owe such people “living amends.” The words we say to them will not be nearly so important as how we act toward them from now on. Only by permanently changing our harmful attitudes and actions can we make it up to ourselves and our loved ones for the hurts of the past.
Then these, are the actions we take to make direct amends in each case where it is possible. However, there will be some people on our amends list whom we cannot find. Although direct amends to such people are impossible right now, we can begin by making indirect amends to them. We’ve found it healing for us to go ahead and make these amends indirectly, if they may have died.
It will also help us to remember that we make direct amends for our ACTIONS (or inaction when action was called for) rather than for our FEELINGS. As we have dealt lovingly with every person in our lives, our spiritual awakening has become a reality. To the best of our ability, we’ve cleaned up the wreckage of the past, and we are at peace with the world.
NOW YOUR PART: QUESTIONS FOR STEP NINE:
How have my thoughts, opinions, and ideas affected the decisions I have made?
What is my usual response to brokenness?
What forms of harm listed in Step Eight do I resist giving up in order to make amends with another?
Am I willing to go to any lengths to offer amends? What risks are involved?
How far will I go to restore a relations with another person, with God and with myself.
What am I afraid will happen when I attempt to make amends?
Which of the Twelve Steps do I need to focus on before I make these fearsome amends?
What have I learned from Step Nine?
The Twelve Steps
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