Making amends is a vital part of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It’s one of the 12 steps that every AA member needs to complete. Not only does making amends help you get over past mistakes, but it also helps repair your relationships with other people. However, some people are afraid of making amends because they don’t know what to say, how to start, or how others are going to respond. While everyone’s journey is different and you cannot control how others will respond there are ways to approach this step appropriately. Here’s a quick guide on making amends in AA.
Start With a Thoughtful Apology
When you make amends, you must apologize for the hurt and pain you caused. tI doesn’t have to be a lengthy apology; it just needs to be honest. Some things you can open with include:
- I’m sorry
- I feel bad about what I did
- I’m sorry I made myself sick
- I’m sorry for what I’ve put you through
- I know this has been hard on both of us
Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Don’t deny responsibility for the harm you’ve caused, even if you think it was someone else’s fault or the victim brought it on themselves. When making amends, owning the responsibility for your actions can sound like:
- I recognize I am powerless against drinking
- I accept responsibility for what I did
- I know that I caused you harm
- I acknowledge that I ignored your help
- I realize that my actions were hurtful
Admit What You Did Wrong
One of the most important parts of making amends is being specific about what you did wrong. Rather than saying something vague like, “I’m sorry for being rude to you,” say something like, “When you were trying to introduce yourself at that party, I interrupted and made inappropriate comments, and I apologize for my behavior. Please accept my apology.”
Don’t try to justify what happened either; simply admit that your actions were wrong without explaining why they occurred in the first place. One way to recognize what you did wrong is by saying things like:
- I was wrong
- I did this
- This was my fault
Genuinely Feel Remorse
It is important to genuinely feel remorse for the person you hurt, what you did, and the pain you caused. The person or people affected by your behavior are not even there in this room with you, so their feelings and reactions must come from within yourself. You need to be able to convey genuine feelings of remorse to make amends successfully.
Ask for Forgiveness
When asking for forgiveness, you must be sincere. This means that you are willing to accept any consequences of your actions, no matter how severe they may be. You also need to be ready to make amends and change your behavior in the future.
If someone has forgiven you and is willing to accept your apology but continues to treat you poorly or speak badly about you to others, it’s okay not to go back into their lives right away—but do try again eventually. Forgiveness works both ways, and sometimes, even though a person says they forgive you, they might not be ready to mean it yet.
Ask What You Can Do to Amend Your Wrongdoing
While it may seem like a simple question, the “What can I do?” question is more of a two-part query: First, you’re asking permission to make amends. Second, what they say after they tell you what they need from you determines whether or not your apology has been accepted.
In Alcoholics Anonymous literature, you’ll read that it’s important to offer a plan for how you can change your behavior in the future. This is an important part of making amends because it shows that you’re taking ownership of your actions. It lets others know that you’re not going to repeat the same mistakes repeatedly by offering them a way to avoid having to deal with your apologies every week or two.
Be Patient and Persistent
If you’re looking to make amends with a loved one or family member, you must take the time to develop a plan. You’ll also want to be mindful of your intention and follow through on it consistently over time.
It can sometimes feel like an uphill battle when trying not just to apologize but also to make amends for past mistakes. But remember: the most important thing is that you do what’s best for yourself and your relationship with this person in the long run, even if it takes smaller steps at first. So don’t be afraid of asking for help from others in AA who might have more experience in this area than you.
It’s important to remember that making amends is a process. You can’t expect everything to go perfectly when you try to do it for the first time, but keep trying. And even though you might still make some mistakes along the way, don’t let them discourage you from making amends in future situations where appropriate.