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STEP NINE

We make direct amends to people from whom we have withheld Love, except when to do so would harm ourselves or others.

In Step Nine, we make amends for the unloving things we have said and done. We make amends to increase joy and Love in our lives and to restore balance in our relationships. When we take this Step, we lead ourselves to Freedom.

Taking the Ninth Step puts into action our emerging consciousness of spirituality. The process of making amends expresses our changed attitude in a real and tangible way. Our amends are a visible sign of the inner transformation that occurs when we embrace forgiveness and reestablish Love as the guiding force in our lives.

Loving action requires courage

We have gone to great lengths to maintain our opinions and judgments. Our minds have used every trick conceivable to justify our actions and convince us we are right. Backing off from our cherished positions can be painful and embarrassing. Although we know logically that fear and separation are illusion, we allow them to have power over our perceptions. It takes courage to approach those we feel we have hurt and those with whom we have been in conflict. Until we open our Hearts to these people, a sense of incompletion will remain with us.

The man whose mind is shaped by selfless thoughts gives joy whenever he speaks or acts.
Buddha

While we may be eager to make some amends, other amends involve emotional risk and cause our egos discomfort. The intent of making amends is to put Truth into action, not to manipulate other people or bring about a desired response from them. The ego resists what it cannot control. We may wish we could avoid making amends, but renewing our sense of Wholeness and Love through this process is well worth the effort required.

Written intentions support our actions

In order to complete the process of healing, we make a list of those people we treated with less than Love. We leave no one out, even those we have lost track of or who have died. We also remember to include ourselves.

Beside each name, we list the thoughts, words, or deeds we want to heal and the action we see as necessary to restore the Relationship to Wholeness. Some situations call for only an apology and a request for forgiveness. Other situations might require more action to set matters right. We give careful consideration to each individual situation before proceeding.

Our plan for restitution must be practical and clearly defined. Making amends is not punishment, but an opportunity for healing. While some amends may require us to give our time or pay back money, the purpose of this Step is not to assuage guilt through creating hardship for its own sake. To work this process effectively, we need be honest with ourselves about what is needed to resolve our unsettled matters.

We keep the highest good in mind

We understand that, in certain instances, confessing our unloving actions may not be the highest good for all involved. Hence, we approach our amends with awareness. Disclosure of past indiscretions that would implicate a third party or be insensitive to anotherís feelings are avoided. We consider carefully, for example, whether to approach our mate about infidelity. Telling a child that we favor his or her brother is another example of an act that may not have a healing effect on the relationship. Every course of action we contemplate should be carefully evaluated.

Pretending is just imagination without faith. Creating is imagination with faith. People who believe in their pretenses create them for real.
Harry Palmer

When a situation warrants, we can restore balance through appreciation and special kindness without disclosing the guilt we seek to heal. We can give something to the company from which we stole; we can do something nice for the child we shortchanged. If such an action seems out of character or raises questions, we can perform it anonymously. Sometimes the best way to make amends is to turn over a new leaf and honor the relationship in question. If the intention in our Hearts is pure, the scales will be balanced, and we will know the Unity, Freedom, and Bliss that is our Birthright.

Thinking is not the same as doing

Once we have made our list, we proceed from the Heart. We do not hesitate or concern ourselves with thoughts of difficulty. This process is easy and simple. We make the amends on our list without procrastinating.

We keep in mind that making our list is not the same as making amends. By the same token, making amends to only one or two people does not take care of the remainder of our list. Step Nine is not a thinking Step; it is an action Step.

We do what we can and trust the results

Many of the people we approach will respond to our openness with kindness and receptivity, glad for the opportunity to release a painful aspect of the past. Our past greed, blame, and jealousy have not created an environment conducive to positive feelings. When we change this climate by making amends, we create a safe space wherein others can change too.

The perfect you isnít something you need to create, because God already created it. The perfect you is the love within you.
Marianne Williamson

Not all our amends have a fairy-tale ending. Sometimes people are unwilling to release their anger when we are repentant of our misdeeds. Others may need time and evidence of our sincerity before they trust us again. In some cases, a relationship cannot be restored in the way we want. We must remember that how others receive our amends is not our concern. We do the best we can, and trust the Perfection of the moment.

Amends are for our own healing

The act of healing a mistake we have made supports us in transforming our lives. There will be cases where we feel the need to make amends to an individual who is no longer alive or who, in one way or another, has moved out of our lives. The fact that the person is not available does not prevent us from healing the relationship. The place where we experience relationships is in the Heart, and the Heart is always accessible.

There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.
Carl Jung

There are many ways to approach such a situation. One possible method is to write a letter and then, if we are unable to determine where to send it, burn it. We can make amends by proxy. For example, we can visit a stranger in a nursing home as amends for neglecting one of our relatives. We can give a toy to a needy child as amends for stealing from another when we were children. When the intention is sincere, the specifics of our amends become apparent to us. The important point is to proceed boldly and not use anonymity or symbolic substitutes to save our pride or maintain our comfort.

Sincerity is crucial

Honesty is important. Any lack of sincerity on our part is communicated, at some level, to those to whom we make our amends. This Step calls for patience, courage, and persistence. With the strength gained from participating in Benestrophe, we are ready for this Step.

We do not need to be totally repentant before making amends. The act of restitution is often an important step in the process. We must, however, be sincere in our desire to change. We can have no hidden agendas in working this Step. Sometimes the only honest approach to making amends is to share the dilemma of being stuck in the feelings we want to move through. Such willingness often gives rise to the miracle of Love and results in the experience of healing.

When we harness the forces of harmony, joy, and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease.
Deepak Chopra

Our ability to honor all beings begins with our ability to honor ourselves. If we choose, we can experience most unpleasant beliefs about ourselves from a consciousness of self-acceptance and forgiveness. Honesty forms the basis of this approach. The Love that ego is unable to gain through manipulation and control flows naturally through us when we accept ourselves.

We stay in the present when weíve handled the past

The importance of making amends to our parents and our children cannot be overstated. Such amends free us from the guilt of events that happened in the distant past. These amends bring closure to issues in our lives that may have been left behind without being resolved. Making amends releases pent-up feelings, allowing forgiveness to open channels of Love as never before. Even when the incidents that sparked the feelings are forgotten, lingering attitudes continue to flavor our experience of the world around us. Amends to parents and children are among the most joyful to make, for as human families are restored to Wholeness, human Hearts and our planet are healed.

There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton

The effectiveness of this process does not require that our parents be alive or that our children respond as we would hope. Making amends frees our sense of who we are that has been trapped in the past. Having made restitution, we allow ourselves to go forward into the present moment.

Benestrophe is being here now

When we sincerely take these Steps, we cannot help but grow. The Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Steps are ways to release the burdens of our past. They also give us many valuable tools to be used on an ongoing basis whenever guilt, shame, anger, or resentment creep into our lives. We take inventory and disclose our findings once in a formal way-but we do so many times in an informal way. Step Nine is really an ongoing process.

At various times throughout life, we act unkindly toward others. Aware of the power of forgiveness and making amends, we rely on these two processes to reestablish harmony and emotional stability whenever imbalance and fear enter into our relationships. Life is like a garden: In order to get sweet fruit, we must weed, prune, water, and fertilize. The Ninth Step, at first glance, could seem like painstaking work, but when we plant the seeds of honesty and forgiveness, we reap a harvest of Unity, Freedom, and Bliss.

Having released shame and guilt, shared our mindís most closely guarded secrets, forgiven others for their misdeeds toward us, and demonstrated our willingness with action, we have dissolved our negativity. We see that our unwillingness to let go of hurt feelings was nothing more than a fear that trapped us in the past and blocked our experience of Love.

What we see in our brothers, we strengthen in ourselves.
A Course in Miracles

As we bring our relationships with others into balance, we notice a new sense of peace in our Relationship with ourselves. Completing Step Nine brings us into an awareness of the moment as never before.

Benestrophe is being here now!

Topics of Discussion
STEP NINE

We make direct amends to people from whom we have withheld Love, except when to do so would harm ourselves or others.

Share about a time when you made amends.

What have you learned from your past mistakes?

Give an example in which you chose not to make amends because doing so would harm ourselves or others.

Has anyone ever made amends to you for something? How did they do so?

Share about an unusual course of action you took to atone for something you did.

Tell about a time when you withheld Love. How were your actions harmful to you?

We have a choice to withhold Love or to allow Love. In what ways have you chosen to withhold Love? How might you allow Love instead?

Tell about something youíve done for which you have not yet made amends.

Share about your most surprising experience while doing the Ninth Step.

How has making amends to another person helped to heal your life?

Talk about the importance of closure in your life.

Share about a situation in which making amends required you to be creative.

What do you lose by not making amends? How has making amends kept you from making mistakes?

Give an instance in which you have treated someone unfairly. Have you made amends?

Share about how taking the Ninth Step has changed your life.

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