For example, let’s take the almost ubiquitous craving to succeed. Because of our craving to succeed, we often harm precisely those who supposedly we are trying to be a success for ... our spouse/partner and children. When all one’s energy goes into one’s job or career, there is little left for family.
It is an all too common occurrence that men or women come home from work and have no energy to either provide quality time, attention, and conversation to each other or their children. We are just too exhausted. Indeed, we want to be coddled and cared for. But that is exactly what our spouses/partners and children desperately need from us.
At work, our desire to succeed can sometimes cause us to harm others. It is a dog eat dog world out there in most corporate and even nonprofit settings. There are only limited opportunities for advancement above a certain level, and either you receive the opportunity or someone else. And so sometimes we are not content to just let our merit speak for us and instead take actions which attempt to denigrate colleagues who we view as competition.
A central part of every 12-step program is to recognize such harm and make amends to such individuals, except when to do so would injure or embarrass them or others. Why? Because making amends accomplishes several things.
First, it helps free us from guilt. Guilt is not a healthy feeling. Recognizing we have harmed someone, accepting responsibility, is one thing, but feeling guilty is another. It interferes with loving ourselves unconditionally and having compassion for ourselves. By making amends to the person harmed, it makes it easier for us to have compassion for ourselves because we have attempted to at least partially right a wrong and we have accepted responsibility.
Second, making amends is a humbling experience. And humbling ourselves before others is a healthy experience, a check on our often outsized ego. It reminds us of our interconnectedness, our oneness, with others. Everything we do has an effect not just on us, but on others as well. whether directly or indirectly.
Finally, when our addiction has harmed either family members or friends, making amends is a first step in healing an often troubled and conflicted relationship. By opening yourself up to the other, you are showing yourself as human and caring, which often can lead to a cathartic exchange which allows all to put the hurts of the past behind them and be present, reestablish trust, and recognize and be grateful for the good things in their lives.