Amends can be confusing enough to intimidate the most seasoned person in recovery, let alone the newcomer. After all, the word used in the Big Book to describe “this phase of our development” is “painstaking” (p. 83), a truth to which anyone who has attempted to navigate amends can attest. The quick guide below is a valuable resource to anybody interested in making their amends in a smooth, effective manner.
FUN FACT: What are commonly referred to as “The Promises” found on pages 83 & 84 are actually the promises for making amends. The line “we will be amazed before we are half way through” on page 83 refers to being half way through working the 9th step.
When beginning the subject of amends, the Big Book says on page 76 “To some people we need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on our first approach.” This indicates there will be at least two approaches which need to be completed when making amends.
FIRST APPROACH (set the appointment)
When ready to make amends, we usually have had some time to contemplate having a potentially uncomfortable conversation with the people we’ve harmed. Yet the people receiving the amends most likely haven’t.
The First Approach accomplishes three things:
POINT TO PONDER: Amends are the pinnacle of your efforts to leave the past where it belongs and begin living in the present. When both parties enter the conversation prepared, the results will prove to be nothing short of miraculous.
With the harms list in one hand, a telephone in the other, a sponsor or supportive person nearby, and a lot of prayer, we can easily complete our first approaches for nearly everybody on our harms list in a day or two, if not within a couple hours.
The First Approach outline is as follows:
The goal here isn’t to make an amends over the phone; the goal is to schedule a time to have a future conversation, preferably in person.
SECOND APPROACH (keep the appointment)
After the first approach, discussion with our sponsor, and diligent prayer, it’s time us to keep their appointment with the person to whom we are going to make amends. This is where the second approach takes place.
The Second Approach outline is as follows:
During a live presentation of this step, I’ll ask this question. Some people will answer saying the First Approach is the amends. Other people answer saying the Second Approach is the amends. In truth it is a trick question. Neither of these are the actual amends.
THIRD APPROACH (a demonstration of good will)
This is where we take the answer to the question “Is there anything I can do to make this right?” and, so long as it won’t injure them or others, provides the request. This is point at which we actually make the amends
Here are some final tips to help make the most of the suggestions the above:
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.