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.
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,
The Twelve Steps
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