Working step 8 and 9 puts you in touch with your own humanity again. You begin to feel empathy and compassion for the people you have hurt as the result of your addiction. It makes you more mindful of your place in the world. When you were in the midst of your addiction , you likely caused people harm.
You downward spiraled and took casualties with you. People you loved were hurt. You made a mess out of your life your problems spilled over onto the lives of people you care about the most. You will go through the process of forgiving other people and being forgiven. Through step 8, you will also have opportunities to forgive yourself.
This process is all about taking action to heal the past with others. You learn to gain your confidence again and look people in the eye. You will identify the damage you did to others and list the names. It may have been from anger, dishonesty, selfishness, reckless behavior, or other character defects. Some people may be verbal about the hurt you caused while others may not. Some situations will be obvious to you. You may have stolen money from a person or a business.
You may have been physically and emotionally abusive to people.
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The names on your list may involve you cheating on someone, acting in a violent way, or treating them coldly. Many people will resist writing the list because of people that caused them harm. The trick here is to practice compassion for people that hurt you. Put them on the list. Recovery is all about letting go of the weakest part of yourself. The resentment, the blaming, and the self-pity. When you forgive others, you can more easily forgive yourself too and you let go of the past fully. The result is to rebuild relationships that were damaged.
This is what the Step 8 list is all about. You have the opportunity to take responsibility for the past you played in your behavior and how it affected others. When you put the names on the paper, it takes those ideas out of your head. You have already processed a lot of things in your mind. Pen to paper allows you to examine them from another angle. Every name you can think of should be written down. You may even wish to put your own name on the list.
You can make amends to yourself on an ongoing process this way. This should be done with your sponsor. You may be rejected; people may not want to forgive you. They may not even want to talk to you. Being this open and honest with yourself can be a painful experience. You may find out truths that are hard to accept. While the truth does set you free, it can still hurt. When you forgive others who hurt you, you are set free.
Giving out love requires humility. This step is important because you build awareness. This helps you to gain a new attitude about yourself and how you deal with other people. These questions are a helpful way to bring it all to the forefront of your mind. People who have undone AA said they feel free after all the steps are done. When you focus on being true to the eight step list, you are one step closer to recovery. You can forgive and heal, let go and grow.
In step 9 of the step program, you may be feeling good. You have now reached the point where you have to repair relationships. As an addict , it is very likely you did some awful things. Addiction likely caused you to behave terribly and everyone in your path may have taken a hit. Step 9 is all about letting go of the terrible feelings you have when you look back to your past. The weight of amends may feel heavy at first.
This allows you to move forward and the risk of using again gets smaller and smaller. You are recovering and as part of the Twelve Steps, you becoming a better person. You are now aware that they cost you and others misery. If you were self-centered before, you are now aware of people around you.
You care about people and become more selfless. This step is about making direct amends to people if you are able to. There are three different kinds of amends. They include:. When you make amends to yourself through the changing of your behavior, attitudes, and beliefs, this already has an effect on people around you.
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When you start to making amends to others, you might find it feels scary. There are expectations that may be involved, this can feel like a lot of pressure. There is also the fear that you will have to make financial amends. If you shine some light on the situation, you may even feel excited at healing relationships or the relief of having the past behind you. The freedom you gain is worth the work you have to put in.
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Restoration is to bring something back to the way it was. Usually things that are damaged require restoration. It could mean restoring your reputation or trust in a relationship. As a recovering addict, resolution may involve past experiences that we think of often and we find disturbing. These past events may even be at risk of being triggers.
When you can find a resolution to these problems, you can get that sense of freedom.
It will usually involve coming up with answers and finding solutions to let them go completely. When referring to step 9, restitution means returning something back to the owner. This could be anything from paying someone back for money you stole. It could be abstract also. You may want to hit the ground running when it comes to making amends but it needs to be carefully looked at.
You want to be realistic about your period of making amends. Some of your amends may never be completed. Keep in mind that some amends might have different steps. You also have to refrain from lying, cheating, and stealing. This ninth step is an ongoing practice. When we have certain rules and guidelines for making amends, there is also a grey area. Life is complex and some of the step 9 amends may involve creativity and patience. There are situations where speaking to a person directly or looking to give them restitution could cause them further pain.
You can get your sponsor to help you decide how to handle situations like this.
They can help you check your motives for why you want to tell others about your addiction and saying sorry for it. You may want to look inside yourself and ask if the person really needs to know. Humility might seem like a scary word but it is freedom from pride and arrogance. It is the ability to stay humble. You focus on humility, forgiveness, and love. Gaining humility occurs when you take a look at the damage you did to yourself and someone else.
Then you accept responsibility. Forgiving others is also deeply healing. You begin to see that we are all human.
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Before you go ahead making amends, there is potential for a lot of fear to come up. Remember that you are probably thinking of the worst-case scenarios. To best prepare for step 9, you should try to let go of your expectations on how your amends will go. Making amends is important because it allows us to right the wrongs of our past.
It brings healing where things have broken down. It requires us to be accountable and take ownership of our past mistakes. We ultimately experience healing and a new level of freedom by looking our past squarely in the face and owning up to our poor choices with Steps Eight and Nine. However, the real focus of this part of our recovery process is to bring healing and freedom into the lives of those we have harmed. Making your amends can bring closure, peace, or forgiveness where there once was resentment, anger, and bewilderment for an untold number of people affected by your addiction.
Although there may be some differences and misunderstandings about AA and NA , there are certain hard truths you can depend on from Step recovery programs. For example, whether you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous , or one of the many other Step programs, you should always work the Steps with the help of a sponsor. Sponsorship is an integral part of every Step program.
Making a proper 9th Step amends is very important because you can inadvertently do more harm than good if you do not handle this process appropriately. For example, it may not be wise to call up an abusive ex to apologize for something you did two years ago. Additionally, it might not be the smartest thing to call your previous employer and admit you embezzled thousands of dollars you are not prepared to repay.
You need to work with your sponsor to determine the best course of action as it relates to each individual circumstance where amends are concerned. A sponsor will remind you that no direct amends should be made that will result in anyone being hurt — this includes you! Whether you are making a direct amends to an ex, making amends to a friend or family member, or making amends to someone you worked with, you want to make sure you do this right.
Keep in mind, there are a number of different ways to make an amends. You can do it face-to-face. You can write a letter and send it. You can make a phone call. Thanks so And, in the world of modern technology, you can make a proper amends from a safe distance through a text or a message on Facebook. But, before you rush out and start your apology tour, remember, there are two parts of the amends process — making a list and making amends.
Step 8 instructs you to make a list of the people you have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. Step 9 tells you to make direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so it would injure them or others. An amends is not lip service. For example, if you did embezzle those thousands of dollars from your company, making a true direct amends would be apologizing and paying back the money. As there are two parts to the process, there is actually three parts to an making amends.
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First, you admit your wrong doing. Secondly, you sincerely apologize for your actions and own them without excuses. Finally, you take whatever action is necessary to right your wrong through your behavior. Bring up the topic in a meeting to hear the experience, strength, and hope from others about the amends process.
All of the Twelve Steps require the practice of humility and therefore a surrender of the ego to a certain degree. This admission can be very difficult for the ego to make and involve an immense amount of suffering over a very long period of time. We humbly admit our limitations; and by doing so, open ourselves up to help from others or help from a Power Greater than ourselves. But this is the barest beginning. To get completely away from our aversion to the idea of being humble, to gain a vision of humility as the avenue to true freedom of the human spirit, to be willing to work for humility as something to be desired for itself, takes most of us a long, long time.
A whole lifetime geared to self-centredness cannot be set in reverse all at once. Rebellion ego dogs our every step at first. The Ego and Toxic Shame Most people live with some sense of shame. According to psychotherapist Hayley Merron 1 , the problem is one of toxic or destructive shame that develops through criticism, rejection, or not being loved for who we truly are. Alcoholics and addicts typically have a large amount of toxic shame or low self-esteem, along with the accompanying symptoms: feelings of hurt, insecurity, isolation, depression and an inability to love or be loved in return.
Shame also prevents identification with others and creates feelings of rejection, anger and bitterness. I can testify to this tragedy as someone who has experienced its effects personally. The deep insecurity produced by toxic shame causes the ego to attempt to control everything and everyone in its path. This self-centred fear often results in avoidance or addiction, as the ego is attempting to defend itself from further harm, pain, and a sense of failure or rejection. This compensatory behavior is revealed in false pride, arrogance, aggression, dogmatism, conceit, criticism and contempt for others.
The above symptoms of toxic shame are ego defenses and serve as a barrier to vulnerability true humility ; as being vulnerable risks being hurt. Recovery and Healing How does the Twelve-Step recovery process help heal our shame and promote humility? This increases self-awareness and self-acceptance, lessening feelings of isolation, shame and guilt. This process then encourages greater honesty, authenticity and humility. Vital to sharing with sponsors, and in meetings, is compassion and acceptance from others with whom we are being vulnerable. Sponsors or Fellowship meetings that are judgemental and unsupportive are damaging to the process of healing.
We learn that as well as needing others they also need us.