365Ways-006 A New Way to Love Yourself: Action As A Form of Amends

Posted on : 03-05-2012 | By : Lynn | In : Featured, Heart Talks, Uncategorized

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Every Wednesday night for the past year, I’ve called into a conference line to be part of a very special 12-step study group as applied to our addiction which is food (for those who are interested in knowing more about a specific program for food addiction, please contact me offline).  We’re studying step nine which is, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  My understanding of “amends” means to take action about those things I can take action upon where I have done wrong to another person/place/etc (as a result of my behavior and actions when immersed in my addiction of choice). when it will not harm them or me to do so.

In our discussion last night one of the insights shared was, “when we choose to be abstinent from our addiction (people, alcohol, drugs, food, cigarettes, negative thinking, fill-in-the-blank) and practice our behavior to the best of our abilities, it is a form of making amends to ourselves as well as others”.  For some reason, I heard this concept in a very different way last night. It helped me finally grok what it meant to “love yourself” because to make amends to yourself is a form of loving yourself.  In other words, people who love themselves choose thoughts and behaviors that lead to actions that help them to care for themselves as well as others.  Basic common sense right?   For someone suffering from addiction, often times, you must apply abstinent behavior and action first even when the  thoughts and feelings going on in your head feel absolutely crazy and have faith that eventually a calm and even keeled mindset will follow.  Seems really counter-intuitive but from my own experience I suspect that we’ve allowed an addict mentality (gotta gotta have something or gotta gotta say something RIGHT NOW!) to override healthy intuition.  I know I’ve spent many a day/night/week/month, well you get where I’m going, when the overriding action taken was to indulge in my addiction(s) of choice.  So just NOT indulging in those things is making an amend to yourself

Making an amends to yourself may not seem that important to you, especially if you’re smack dab in the middle of feeling pretty rotten but if that’s the case you can assume that your thinking is a bit off kilter because people who are coming from a healthy self-esteem place instinctively “know” that making amends to yourself is a great way to love and take care of yourself.  And,  oh by the way, it goes to say that when we are taking good care of ourselves and loving ourselves this just naturally overflows to having a positive impact to those around us.  Just as when we indulged in our addictions, they were impacted by that too.

Even though I’ve been sober from alcohol for a number of years and abstinent from unhealthy eating for almost a decade, there was still a tiny–but significant–part of my brain that had filed away my abstinent behavior as being some form of punishment because I wasn’t the same as those who could enjoy things in a healthy way that I cannot.  So great was my guilt and shame for the years of denial and regret about my behavior that some part of me felt that I owed the world hugely for just allowing me to continue living on this planet.  And that’s after several occasions of making amends to people who I had harmed (and probably felt resentment towards) in the past.

What a freeing, very freeing concept to consider that as you and I live this clean way of living that we’ve chosen to live…we’re making amends to ourselves on a continuous basis.  It just doesn’t get much sweeter than this!

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