Eradicating this guilt can take time, but it is achievable.
- First, steppers will be encouraged to map out their worse personality traits, perhaps alongside their good ones, so they can work on minimising the faults and accentuating the good behaviour.
- Secondly they will be encouraged to make amends to people they have harmed.
- Thirdly, they will behave better to people close to them.
- Fourthly, they will be encouraged to help out with service work in whichever program they have joined. Over time they will realise that the good deeds they have performed outweigh the misdeeds of the past and that they have changed into a useful human being. They are not the same person who committed the misdeeds in the past.
- Fifthly, they will widen their good works in helping others to include supporting newer steppers to work their programs.
- Sixthly, they will extend their good works into society at large.
One of the slogans in 12 step groups is: “If you want self esteem, do esteemable things.”
There is even a (free) Just for Today card in AA which advises that one of your good deeds each day should be kept secret. No one should know who did it, but the perpetrator.
These programs are about so much more than beating addictions. They return former users to society as decently functioning, happy, contented, useful human beings. Some who started using in adolescence never learned as an adult what it was to behave well and contribute to society. They are not reformed by these programs, but gain the self-discipline they never learned in the first place.
An Atheists Twelve Steps to Self-improvement goes beyond the treating of addictions to suggest a program for bad behavers, Bad Behavers Anonymous, so that non-addicts who never had a proper introduction to adulthood can benefit, too.