Making Living Amends in 12 Step Recovery 12 steps recovery, 12 step, Making amends

Not everyone can make amends by being in the same space as a person they harmed. Some people may not be open to hearing a direct amends. The wounds may be very deep and not close to being healed, even years later. In this case, making what some people refer to as a “living amends” is an alternative option. Living amends are about examining what thoughts and attitudes led to the earlier harmful behavior. As you make a living amends, you consciously look for ways to treat people in your life with more care and respect than you did before.

What are indirect amends?

An indirect amend refers more to the thoughts and attitudes behind the behavior. You can make a direct amend to someone, such as repaying them for the money you stole and then follow it up with an indirect amend, such as modifying your attitude and not asking for or expecting your loved one to give you money.

Somehow in all this guilt writing, we have never talked about making amends with someone who died. Thankfully we are given some insight in to how to make amends through steps 8 and 9. But amends are so much more than just making a list and saying you are sorry, and this is where it becomes important to understand the difference between making an amends and making an apology. Should others be unreceptive or outcomes aren’t as planned, don’t blame yourself.

Keep the Purpose in Mind

Also, you need to be prepared to listen to the other person when they explain how you harmed them and what other consequences it had in their lives. By listening to them, you can begin to do the work necessary to repair the harm. Unlike fixing an object you broke, repairing the damage won’t come from a one-time act. Instead, it requires consistency in how you show respect and care for this person on an ongoing basis. Many people think of making amends as simply apologizing for whatever wrongs they did in their using, however an apology is not an amend. An amend involves rectifying or making right what was wrong. For example, say that you stole $20 from your brother while you were using.

Living amends means actively improving relationships in your life with a concerted and focused effort. Visit relatives more often, mentor young people you know, teach people close to you skills you’re good at or make time for a regular date night with your partner.

Start healing from addiction today

It would be easy to think there is nothing more WYG can write about guilt and grief. We’ve written about how common guilt is in grief (you wouldn’t believe how many people get the “coulda woulda shouldas”). We wrote an article about living amends the difference between guilt and regret. We talked about the complicated processes of self-forgiveness and self-compassion. We’ve filled you in on things that can exacerbate guilt, like hindsight bias and survivors’ guilt.

Rebuilding trust isn’t easy but by staying strong and unwavering, you’ll strengthen those bonds again. With all that in mind, you should prepare yourself for the very real possibility that they’re not ready to hear your apology yet. • Direct Amends— a face to face amends, following the guideline above. Be Specific Just saying you were wrong is not a proper amend.