My share on Step Eight:
The principle of Step Eight is self-discipline. I always envied anyone who joined the service because I thought that was where you learned discipline. I never had much discipline after my food addiction hit me at the age of 18. Where does one learn discipline?
In the Twelve Step programs! Yea! I am most grateful that I belong to a group of people who dedicate their lives to God and to becoming better human beings as well as helping others.
Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. Alcoholics Anonymous, page 77.
Step Eight is taking action, putting myself on the line and saying I will do whatever it takes to have good recovery. Saying I am sorry to someone was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Up to that point, I had never said those words to anyone. Why not? Because I could not bear to think that my actions or words had caused anyone pain. I preferred to believe that whatever I did to someone else, he or she deserved it. After all, I would not have done it in the first place if they had not done something to me, right? Moreover, if I did do something to someone, it was for a good reason and if I had a good reason, then why would I be sorry? Sheesh, what convoluted thinking!
What I did do was to push those types of things down my throat with excess food. I could not handle it otherwise. Did they go away? No! They settled somewhere in the far reaches of my mind and simply stagnated, festered and grew into poison which was quite toxic to me as an individual. The more I hid my feelings, my actions, my thoughts from others, and myself the more emotionally and spiritually ill I became. The Twelve Step programs have a saying, "You are only as sick as your secrets." I have found that to be true. The moment I began to expose those secrets in the form of sharing them was the moment I began to heal. It was the process of Steps Four through Nine that helped to heal my emotional and spiritual illness. When I have emotional and spiritual good health, the physical part will follow.
Step Eight is a two-parter. First, I had to make a list of people I had harmed and then I became willing to make those amends. I was taught that the first person on my list should be me. Whom had I harmed more than anyone else? Me. For 35 years of my adult life, while compulsively overeating, I had berated, accused, browbeat and steadily demoralized myself. I showed no restraint in doing this. Self-hatred, self-pity and self-destructive thinking and behaviors left me feeling like I was the worse person on the face of the earth. It was time for me to forgive myself for being human.
I used my moral inventory from Step Four in making the list of necessary amends. Of course, my list today is quite short. I have made almost all my amends needed in my past life. I can think only of one that I have not been able to do. I write a daily Step Ten inventory and if an amends is needed, I give it asap.
The second part of Step Eight: became willing to make amends to them all. How do I become willing to make the necessary amends? The same way I find the willingness to do anything in OA, prayer. I pray for the willingness to do whatever it takes to have good recovery. Step Eight is an essential part in the Twelve Step program of healing and forgiveness. As long as I am willing to go to any length, I will have and keep the good recovery I have been blessed in receiving.
Today, my life is much saner, healthier and much more positive than it ever has been before. It is only through the process of working the Twelve Steps that my life has become complete.
Love in recovery,
Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Eighth Step Prayer:
Higher Power, I ask Your help in making my list of all those I have harmed. I will take responsibility for my mistakes and be forgiving to others as You are forgiving to me. Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution. This I pray.
Principle of Step Eight:
In Step Eight, we looked at the damage we had done others and set about repairing it. Now we apply the principle of self-discipline to all of our action. Self-discipline makes us less likely to hurt other people and quicker to make amends when we do.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 105
To help comprehend the questions, please read the Step Six chapter in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Also read in the BB of AA, page 76 & 77. (Fourth Edition)
List of people: (If you give us your list, please use first names only. Thank you.)
Here is a suggestion to making your list of people you have harmed and what worked for me. Make three separate lists, beginning with a list of people you believe you might be able to make amends to without too much trouble. The second list should include those people that would be difficult to make amends to but, as you progress in recovery, you believe the willingness will come. The third list will have people on it that you will make amends to when hell freezes over. The important thing is that you simply sit down and make the lists, which will allow you to begin to become accountable for your actions.
The very first person on the very first list will be you. Under the influence of our addiction, we have harmed ourselves MORE than we have ever harmed anyone else.
Another suggestion is that this is simply the list of people we have harmed. Please do not make amends until you have talked the list over with your sponsor or another OA member. Sometimes we make an amends when none is needed and/or we make amends causing further harm than we have all ready done. This is where the guidance of a sponsor, OA member, therapist or clergyman will come in handy.
1. Are you willing to make a list of the people you have harmed? If not, how will you become willing?
2. How do you identify what actually is harm to another person?
3. What is the purpose of Step Eight?
4. Who will you talk to about your list of needed amends?
5. Is there anyone on your list that you need to forgive the harms they have done to you? Are you willing to pray daily for these people who have wronged you so that you can be free of your resentments? If not, can you use program to find the willingness needed?