Step 8

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

Step Eight Summarized

In Step Eight, we turn back once again to our Fourth Step inventory. We review our lives once more and make a list of all the people we have harmed — whether that be emotionally, psychically, financially, sexually or spiritually. In Step Eight, we are preparing ourselves to right our wrongs. In many instances we will be tempted to focus on what the other person did to us to warrant our response, but we have to put this entirely out of our minds. We are owning only our side of the street. We may experience a great amount of resistance to writing our wrongs with certain people. The thought may terrify us. But in Step Eight we ask our Higher Power for the willingness. We become ready to make amends to them all. When we are ready, we have completed Step Eight.

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Into the Steps

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into each of the 12 Steps. While Guardian Recovery Network is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, we have been utilizing the 12-Step process in a treatment setting for more than 15 years. We have found that the steps, especially in combination with our clinical therapy offerings, are a powerful tool for  helping individuals transform their lives and find lasting freedom from addiction. 

 It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt to take these steps alone, but rather with a trusted guide called a sponsor who can walk you through them and be your support. Or, you can come work them at a Guardian Recovery Network treatment program. Unlike many other treatment centers, we don’t just teach individuals about the steps, we actively work them. Find a facility here.

Steps 4-7 Recap

In Step Four we made a searching and fearless inventory of our lives. We reviewed all the people and situations in our lives that caused us resentment, fear, pain and remorse. We analyzed them carefully and saw our part in each scenario. In Step Five, we shared this inventory with a trusted friend who listened to us, supported us and helped us see new perspectives. In going through this process, we gained a new level of clarity on how our choices, beliefs and character traits contributed to our troubles. In Step Six, we utilized this knowledge to make a list of all of our defects of character. These could include things like arrogance, self-righteousness, procrastination, laziness, unrealistic expectations of others, an aversion to confrontation, self-centeredness, etc. We became ready and willing to give up these defects of character — even the ones that were still giving us some selfish payoff. We recognize that we often cannot remove our own defects of power any more than we could fix our addiction in our own power. We need help. In Step Seven, we humbly ask our Higher Power to remove our character defects for us so that we can be more useful and selfless human beings.

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Step Eight Explained

The first paragraph of the Eighth Step in the Twelve & Twelve summarizes Steps Eight and Nine very succinctly:

“Steps Eight and Nine are concerned with personal relations. First, we take a look backward and try to discover where we have been at fault; next we make a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done; and third, having thus cleaned away the debris of the past, we consider how, with our newfound knowledge of ourselves, we may develop the best possible relations with every human being we know.”

The point of going through Steps Eight and Nine is to mend our relationships to others and to ourselves. When we have cleaned our side of the street, we are able to feel a sense of restored integrity. The shame that once burdened us lifts from our shoulders and we are able to stand tall and look people in the eye. We no longer are scared of who we might run into out there in the world. We will not have to hide our faces as we pass by someone from our past. In the relationships we intend to keep, we have a sense that healing is happening. And in the relationships we intend to let go of, we can detach in peace for having done our part. We gain a newfound closeness and understanding with the people we care about. We find forgiveness, for both ourselves and others.

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But before we can experience all these gifts, we must take Steps Eight and Nine. Step Eight is our preparation for Step Nine. To complete Step Eight, we take out our Fourth Step Inventory once more and review it. We remember our lives and think honestly about all the people we’ve encountered along the way. We write down the names of the people we have harmed in any way — emotionally, psychically, financially, sexually or spiritually — by our addictions and our selfishness.

Writing this list is bound to trigger emotions, so it is important to be in close communication with our sponsors and recovery friends. We will be tempted to focus on how others have wronged us, but it is necessary for us to put those wrongs out of our minds. We must focus solely on the harm we have caused, even if it was reactionary. We gauge where we are at in Step Eight by how measuring how willing we are to see the people on our list, in person if possible, to make an amends. When we feel resistance, we pray for the willingness to make those amends. We ready ourselves for the amends process by preparing what we might say, getting clear on our part. Our sponsors will help us with this. Sometimes they will have us write letters or scripts.

It is important to note that by the time we get to Steps Eight and Nine, we should already be very different people than we were when we first started the Steps. We have already prayed to have our character defects removed (in Step Seven), so by the time we make it to face an amends, we should show up as changed individuals. We should be confident we will not repeat our mistakes.

When we feel entirely ready and willing to make our amends, and our sponsor agrees, we have completed Step Eight. It is natural to feel fear about making amends. When we feel such fear, we ask our Higher Power to remove it and we proceed in faith that everything will be alright. We move on to Step Nine.

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Guardian Recovery Network & Step 8

Making a list of all the people we have harmed can be an emotionally destabilizing process. It is always recommended to have a sponsor to work this step. If you or someone you love might benefit from additional professional support by working the Steps in a structured, supportive treatment setting, then seeking treatment at a Guardian Recovery Network Facility is always a possibility. Unlike many treatment programs, Guardian Recovery Network doesn’t just teach individuals about the Steps, we actually work them. This offers our clients the opportunity to be supported by a licensed therapist while going through the Steps. We have found that this can be extremely beneficial — particularly for individuals who have already tried the Steps unsuccessfully, or who are dual-diagnosis. To look for one of Guardian Recovery Network’s 12-Step treatment centers, click here. Or, contact us 24/7. Our compassionate team of Treatment Advisors is ready to help you. We do recover. Start today!

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