Leader's Share and Step Questions
Made a list of all persons we had harmed,
and became willing to make amends to them all.
The principle behind Step Eight is SELF-DISCIPLINE.
Greetings, fellow loopies! Wow, look how far we've come. Thank you all for your continued sharing on the loop -- though I do know that there are members who share off-loop with their sponsors. It's all good. :-) For those who are still behind, don't worry -- just keep moving forward!
Step Eight... DON'T PANIC!!!!!!! :-) You don't have to go out and do anything yet! :-) This Step, if you read carefully, is about becoming willing to do something (not unlike Step Six). You can sit in your room and do this, and hey, we can *all* sit in our rooms and contemplate things that are a little nerve-wracking, right? :-)
When I first read this Step, I did get a tad nervous. But that was before I started my work with my sponsor. The first part of this Step is actually already done (we made that list (of those we'd harmed) back in Step Four). What made me nervous was the *implication* that I'd have to go running around apologizing to people (or something like that) -- eventually. [EEEK!]
But these Steps are written in exactly the right order (IMHO). :-) All I'm being asked to do is "BECOME WILLING." I can do that! That's not scary! I've been practicing "becoming willing" in all sorts of ways since I came to OA. I had to be willing to put down my trigger foods. I had to be willing to embrace the concept of some power "out there" that was "greater" than I was. I had to be willing to look at my past behaviors. I've had lots of practice! "Becoming willing" is just the act of adopting a "new attitude."
So I take out my list from Step Four, and the scariest person of all is right there on the top of the list. [gulp!] When I first started in OA, and I thought vaguely about Steps 8 and 9, I figured I would just leave this guy off the list because he was just too intimidating. Plus, he was a real bad dude. He was a bully. A real narcissist. A nasty piece of work! There was no way I'd go groveling to THIS guy! Nosireebob! HOWEVER, as I've said many times, these Steps are written in the exact right order because, not only did I BECOME WILLING to make amends to this guy, but he was the first one I actually made amends to!!!!!!!
First of all, by the time I got to this Step, I knew that there was no "groveling" involved at all. I would be facing any and all people on my list as co-equal human beings: no better, no worse. I would be humble, but not by groveling or humiliating myself. BIG difference! Secondly, thanks to the "resentment prayer" [AABB p. 67], I was able to see "difficult people" (especially this bully!) as "sick," not "bad." These things allowed me to become quite willing to make direct amends where possible, and to make "living amends" as well.
The good news is I don't have to become willing in a vacuum. I don't grit my teeth and grunt and say, "OK, I'm willing now!" :-) Yes, I have to have a mindset geared toward willingness, *BUT* there's prayer involved! Similarly to Step Seven, I actually ask my HP to "grant me" the willingness to do this. Hey, I've got help! :-) I'm a team now! Me and my HP! :-)
Keep in mind, all we're really trying to do here is live in harmony with the world -- with reality (not the world or people as we *wish* they were). And it's been said that not harming others *is* spiritual progress. Accepting responsibility for our past behavior is also a sure way out of "victimhood." This list -- indeed the whole program -- will reduce our fear, anger and guilt. So this is a Step we should be very interested in. This is another way we "unblock" our path to our Higher Power, and to our being the people we were created to be. [Great quote: “...the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than his body.” AABB pg 23]
The principle behind this Step is "SELF-DISCIPLINE." I've also had a little practice with that, too. In Step Four, I had to be "rigorously honest." That took self-discipline. I could have done a wishy-washy inventory, and who would have known the difference? But I had been encouraged to be rigorous in my honesty, and that took self-discipline. No one else was going to do this for me. I had to make myself take the time to sit down, dig deep, and write a thorough list. So I've had practice with this self-discipline.
As I said, half of this Step is already done -- we already have our list of all persons we have harmed (though you can always add to it at any time!). So our self-discipline was used then, and now we need it again -- to sit quietly with that list, and ask our HP to "grant us the willingness to begin" -- to begin this process (to be completed in the next Step). It takes self-discipline to do this -- to not just say, "Oh, yeah, I'm as ready as I'll ever be." No, it takes more than that. It takes self-discipline to actually sit quietly and pray to "become willing" to do things we've never done before. And we have a lovely Eighth Step Prayer to help us do just that.
Since this Step asks that we "become willing" to make amends in the near future, I want to share a few great thoughts about WILLINGNESS vs. TRYING. [I didn't write these, another OA-er shared them with me, but it says, "Author unknown," so I really don't know where they came from. They were originally written about abstinence, but here I will use them generically.]
The difference between TRYING and BEING WILLING
• If you are TRYING, this is a state of frustration; but if you are WILLING, this is a state of great humility.
• If you are TRYING, this implies you know the answer (or should know it), but cannot seem to come up with it; BEING WILLING implies you do not know, but are willing to learn.
• If you are TRYING, you are closed to guidance; if you are WILLING, you are open to receive.
• If you are TRYING, you fear failure; if you are WILLING, even "failure" may be used as a teaching device, for you know you will be shown.
• If you are TRYING, the responsibility is on you; BEING WILLING places the responsibility on your HP.
Here is our Step Eight prayer, followed by our assignment.
EIGHTH STEP PRAYER
I ask Your help in making my list of all those I have harmed.
I will take responsibility for my mistakes &
be forgiving to others as You are forgiving to me.
Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution.
This I pray.
A.) Take out your list from Step Four (your list of all people you had harmed, and what you did to them; what your responsibility was). Now, write down next to each what an amends to them *might* look like. [NOTE: DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU *SHOULD* OR *WILL BE ABLE TO* MAKE AMENDS. This exercise is about an amends you *might* make.] [For sharing with the loop, you should not mention names. You could say, "Person #1, Person #2, etc."]
B.) Here are some excerpts from an OA-approved source, the OA 12 x 12:
"In step 8, we look at our relationships for the purpose of discovering those patterns which have done harm to us and to others. Here we meet guilt head-on and get rid of it." "...we begin here to become willing to make amends -- that is, to make changes -- in the way we deal with the people who share our lives." "...Whether the [writing down in black and white] takes up two paragraphs or twenty pages, whether it takes us minutes or hours, we finally see that there is a limit to how much we have been hurt." [OA 12 x 12 pg. 67 - 72]
Questions on these excerpts:
1. While looking over your list from Step Four (in order to do Step Eight), do you see "patterns" that have done harm to you? to others?
2. Do you agree that making amends will be how you eventually "make changes in how you deal with people"? How?
3. The reading suggests that the physical act of writing these things down helps us see that our pain and grief is not "endless" -- it actually has limits -- there's a beginning and an end. Can you see that now about your own pain and grief?
C.) Read AABB, page 76, third paragraph (quoted here):
"Now we need more action, without which we find that “Faith without works is dead.” Let’s look at Steps Eight and Nine. We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self-appraisal. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven’t the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol."
[Ooooh, this reading is *full* of all sorts of goodies -- about the program, and about ourselves and what it is we're doing here!] :-)
Questions on the reading:
1. What does, "Now we need more action," mean to you in OA?
2. What does "Faith without works is dead," mean to you in OA? And, "faith" in what?
3.) What "debris" do you think we need to "sweep away"?
4.) It has been said that not accepting reality (or "life on life's terms") is another way of saying "self-will run riot." This is what caused the "damage done in the past." How is the 12-Step program of OA helping us to "accept life on life's terms"? How do you feel about your own "self-will run riot"? Do you feel yourself stepping back now, and relying more and more on your HP's will?
5.) This passage references praying for willingness: "If we haven't got the will to do this, we ask until it comes." Are you ready to pray for this willingness? Are you ready for a new way of life? Are you ready for a "personality transplant"? :-) What are you ready for...?
6.) The last line of this passage is important: "Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol." Did you make such an agreement with yourself? Do you feel you've been "going to any lengths" so far? Do you want "victory over" your compulsive eating?
7.) It has been said that when we can accept responsibility for our past mistakes, we can stop being "in victim mode." Do you agree with that? Have you felt like a victim in the past? Is that feeling leaving you? has it already left you?
D.) Here are some Step Eight Promises [AABB p. 78]:
• If our manner is calm, frank, and open, we will be gratified with the result.
• Rarely do we fail to make satisfactory progress.
Questions on the Promises:
1. Do you feel "gratified" with the result of "becoming willing"? Do you feel "calm, frank and open" to the idea of *possibly* making amends in the future?
2. Do you feel you are making "satisfactory progress" in OA? with your abstinence? with your willingness to move forward?
See you next week for Step Nine! - Susan
The Twelve Steps
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