The Twelve Steps in Everyday Living: Part Eight
Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all
If you have been doing your steps thoroughly all along, step 8 is a lot easier than it may at first appear. Once you have completed, in writing, the fourth step inventory, the list you need to make in step eight really writes itself. In terms of specifics, there are a variety of ways I have seen people write this list. My sponsor instructed me to review my 4th step inventory, and, using it as a guide, write down all the people I had hurt. From there, I was to divide the list into 3 categories: those with whom I should make amends immediately, those with whom I should make amends at some point in the future, and those with whom I cannot make amends (such as, for example, the person has died). I guess the trick, if there is one, is in the idea of willingness, and developing the appropriate humility it will take to move on from this step into the action step nine. To mean that you are truly willing is a bigger deal than it seems, much like “became entirely willing” was in step seven. I can say that I feel terrible remorse for my past actions, but, until I am really ready to put my money where my mouth is, then I am not willing.
Being completely aware of the damage I caused to the people in my life has given me a new empathy in dealing with their personalities, their defects, and their differences in approaching life. I once gave little thought to the opinions of others, because, after all, my way is the right way. Now, having a concrete list of all the people in my life whom I have hurt, and a visible reminder of how they rose above that hurt and allowed me to try again (and again, and again), I can see that I need to consider what a gift I’ve been given, and I must give back by having the same compassion and understanding they have given me.
In a sense, the end result of the Step 8 list produces the same feelings as those generated by a gratitude list. Having a visible reminder of the past harms I have done, and such a challenging “to do” list, really does help me, in everyday life, to treat people better than I have before. First, as I mentioned, because I have gratitude for the compassion they have shown me. Second, and not quite as altruistic, I do not want to add any more to my amends list! It sounds silly, but a positive side effect of working these steps is the extra incentive not to repeat mistakes, and thus repeat the amends process. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I have shut my mouth simply out of the stubborn refusal to need to make an amends to my husband! Now, to be fair, there are probably as many, if not more, times that I chose instead to let the choice words fly, but the point is that I am thinking about it at all, a feat unheard of prior to working the steps. In the past, my motto was “argue now, and most likely argue a little more later.” Having done the work required of the steps, I now will take the time to pose the question, “Is this really worth it?”
My husband is coming home after 4 days away, and all three of us at home can’t wait!
Posted on May 31, 2013, in Twelve Steps in Everyday Living and tagged Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, God, Higher Power, Recovery, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.