Step Eight

Made a list of all persons
we had harmed and became willing
to make amends to them all.




STEP EIGHT ~ INTRODUCTION

Step 8 is where I take the list of people who were in my 4th step, figure out if and how I harmed them and then go through a process of becoming willing to make amends. Step 8 requires exploring a bunch of different concepts. I think the most important aspect of Step 8 is that it involves one of my past behaviors (not attitudes). Although they impact my behavior, feelings and thoughts are NOT actions ... and I never have to apologize for my feelings or thoughts. But ...

This is where my sponsor comes in. If I step on an ant, did I harm the ant? If I held a grudge against someone - but believe I never acted it out - did I harm that person? These are things that each of us has to determine for ourselves. In my experience, though, I *have* acted out on most of my resentments, either through gossiping about that person, or having behaved poorly (and then getting stepped on, as it were) with that person. It's REALLY rare for me to have a resentment that comes out of the blue with no input/cause from my own behavior.

Then there's the question of the actual harm. Most of the time I can figure out what I did from my 4th and 5th step. If I'm in doubt, again I go to my sponsor for assistance. The important thing IMO is that the harm is something I *DID,* not something I *felt.*

What's an amend? IMO, it's the multi-part act of (a) acknowledging to myself that I did something wrong; (b) coming to a state of remorse and regret over the harm I did; (c) going to the injured party and acknowledging the harm (or behavior) I did that was wrong; (d) declaring how I'm going to make good on the harms I did; and MOST IMPORTANT (3) getting to the point where I don't repeat the behavior especially when I am tempted. It's not enough to say "I'm sorry" without backing up the apology with changed attitude and future behavior.

Becoming willing to make amends is not easy. That nasty character defect of prideful justification steps up: well, it wasn't *that* bad; why open that can of worms ... let it go already; but I really HATE that person and besides, s/he deserved it, too. But just like in Step 4, Step 8 asks me to look at MY behavior - not the other person's. It doesn't matter how someone else behaves; what's important is my own behavior. I may or may not have eaten over what someone else did - but I certainly binged over the guilt and shame of why I did to others.

Getting to the point of being willing to make amends is a process that - for me - has involved my Higher Power and my sponsor as I pray for the willingess to let go of the things that have been keeping me trapped in the past. Step 8 is another step in the freeing up of my soul.

Once I'm ready to acknowledge my wrongs to those I have harmed and have a game plan of how I am going to make restitution and change my behavior, I'm ready to move on to Step 9.

STEP EIGHT~QUESTIONS

1. How do you define "harm?"

2. What's the difference between a thought or a feeling and a harm?

3. Do you agree that we don't need to make amends for feelings/thoughts?

4. Do you agree that most feelings and thoughts are accompanied by behaviors?

5. What do you think about my multi-part definition of "amend?" [(a) acknowledging to myself that I've done a wrong; (b) determining what that wrong actually was; (c) going directly to the injured party with not only an acknowledgement of the wrong but also what kind of restitution you're going to do; (d) not doing the same wrong again, especially when you're tempted]

6. How do you know when you're ready to make an amend?

Yours in Recovery,
Penny






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