Now that you have continued through your 12-Step work with vigor and truth, you understand that your character defects can hold you back from being everything you wish to be. Relationships, especially, can be challenging to navigate when you realize that you have been bringing some negativity into them. As you start to gain clarity with what your part is, you must be the one to start the ball rolling to clean up the past and get some closure on it. Step Eight will be instrumental in beginning this necessary process.
Step Eight states, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” The word all may terrify you, but if you want to be thorough in your steps to build long-term sobriety, you must take this initiative for a chance to achieve spiritual freedom.
Be Willing to Envision the List
Up until this point, you have compiled a bunch of vital information regarding people, institutions, and principles and what shortcomings came from your resentments, fears, and relational afflictions. The inventory you wrote out for your Fourth Step has been useful for your Fifth Step, Sixth Step, Seventh Step, and now, your Eighth Step. Taking the names from your Fourth Step will give you a guideline for your Eighth Step, so you can be prepared to make amends in your Ninth Step.
The 12 steps are in order for a reason, which gives you the capability to get comfortable and become willing to do whatever needs to come next. You cannot move forward into the next step if you do not have the willingness to analyze who you have harmed. By doing so, you are allowing yourself to advance with a desire to dissipate the adversity of the past into experience, strength, and hope.
Be Willing Make the List
Identifying the people from your resentment list on your Fourth Step will start you with the process of making your Eighth Step list. Since you have already found your part on the inventory, you can take the names from there and plug them into columns for Step Eight. You may have already decided whom you have harmed in your head, although putting them down on paper into columns will better organize your thoughts and give you a plan of action to pursue this step.
Use the columns of “now,” “later,” “maybe,” “not needed,” and “never” to help you decipher who should be considered as someone you have harmed. Also, you should think about others who were not on your Fourth Step that have been affected by your past behavior. With careful contemplation, you can take an honest, open-minded, and, more importantly, willing approach to clear up the past’s wreckage to move into freedom.
Be Willing to Utilize the List
Just like you take one day at a time, you have to take one step at a time. You may be questioning what this Eight Step list will be used for. Obviously, the Eighth Step will set the stage for your Ninth Step, which is to make amends to those you have harmed. Before you take the stance that you are not going to make amends, you need to know why they are essential to give.
An amends letter is given to show that you are closing the door on your past behavior and attempting to change or amend them ongoing. Without first recognizing your part and taking the time to clear up your misconduct, you can keep going without ever understanding what you have done to others. Step Eight gets you prepared to take this next step into the principle of brotherly love to make things right. Before you get too ahead of yourself, however, all you have to do now is make a list and be willing.
Step Eight gives you the ability to realize and concede that you have hurt people and are ready to clean up your side of the street. The courage you mustered in all the steps you have worked thus far will be needed in this step. You are developing compassion so that you can begin to look at others in the eye again. Your addiction caused you to make poor decisions with consequences, and your recovery gives you the aptitude to heal your mistakes and misdeeds with willingness.
Taking a different perspective with your character defects and moral inventory in Step Eight will give you a new understanding of what you need to heal while providing the awareness of how to start. You will have a new level of accountability that you are embarking on by assembling the list of people and becoming willing to recognize those you have harmed. This process will allow you to become right-sized and humble by finally acknowledging that you did indeed have a part and are ready to make things right.
Time takes time, and this step is a crucial part of letting go of the shame and guilt and progress forgiveness. Although some people will not be equipped to forgive you for what you have done, you are commencing to forgiving yourself. Live and let live will become abundantly clear with this step because you are preparing to forgive, which is healing, and then let go so you can continue growing in your recovery.
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