Working the 12 Steps Helps Us Lead Happier Lives
Using the Alanon Twelve Steps will help you rebuild your relationships with the people you love. In particular, the Alanon Eighth Step will help you improve your communication with the people around you, reduce the anger or resentment they feel towards you, and sooth hurt feelings.
The Alanon Eighth Step asks us to make a list of people we have harmed and to become willing to make amends to them. Since Alanon is an organization for the friends and family members of alcoholics, the fact that WE need to make amends surprises many people. After all, we reason, didn't the alcoholics hurt more people than we did? Don't they owe amends to us? Aren't we the victims in this relationship? And, yet, who among us has not hurt, been rude to, or harmed someone else? In this step, we concentrate only on making the list and becoming willing to make amends. We don't need to start to make the amends, yet. We just need to be honest about the actions we have taken and the unkind words we have spoken. Now, who should go on the list?
MAKE ALANON AMENDS TO YOURSELF
First, put yourself on the list. Most members of Alanon have spent a lot of time berating themselves for their past mistakes. They may secretly blame themselves for contributing to their loved one's alcoholism. They may think that they enabled the drinking to go on far too long. Or, they may believe that they caused the alcoholism by being overly-critical or over-demanding. Even if the Alanon member has come to accept that they are not responsible for the alcoholism, they may feel guilty for spending too much time taking care of the alcoholic, which may have caused them to neglect children or other members of the family. In addition, they just may feel that they have done mean, foolish or embarrassing things in the past. Whichever category you fall into, you need to put yourself on the list of people you need to forgive and make amends to.
MAKE ALANON AMENDS TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Then, look at the list of character defects you made in your Alanon Fourth Step. Who were these character defects aimed at? If you recognized that you were resentful, angry, selfish or controlling when you did your Fourth Step, those actions were directed at other people and may have caused you to treat others badly. Did you tell lies to some of these people to cover up for the alcoholic? Have your been excessively irritable? Did you become self-centered and depressed, causing you to neglect family members? Write down the names of these individuals whom you have harmed.
Next, add co-workers, neighbors, friends and family members who are on your mind because you realize you have mistreated them in the past. Do you have a long-standing feud with a relative? What was your part in the feud? Have you hurled angry words at an inconsiderate neighbor, co-worker or employee? What other regrets do you have?
MAKE ALANON AMENDS TO THE ALCOHOLIC OR DRUG ABUSER
Finally, put all the alcoholics in your life on your Alanon Eighth Step list. That's right! Whether they are still active alcoholics, or fresh out of alcohol rehab, you need to think about the things you have said and done to them in the past that make you feel guilty today. The purpose of these amends is not to ignore their behavior, as you may have done in the past. Instead, you are making plans to "sweep your side of the street."
DISCUSS YOUR ALANON AMENDS WITH YOUR SPONSOR
Once you have compiled your list, go over it with your Alanon sponsor. Your sponsor may remember someone you have hurt or complained about that you have blocked out. Once your list is complete, and you have prayed over it and discussed it with your sponsor, you will be ready to go on to the Alanon Ninth Step … actually making amends!
You may also find it helpful to buy some Al-anon books and learn more about the 12 Steps. A good book to start with is "Al-Anons Twelve Steps & Traditions." It is available from Amazon in the ad below.
If you are interested in learning more about Alanon, and how it can help you survive when you have an alcoholic or drug abuser in your life, you may want to read the articles below.
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