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Jun 25

Amends List

Now we sit down to take a hard look at the inventory we made in the Fourth Step.  We “redouble our efforts” and make one more list.  In the Eighth Step we prepare to set things right.  We make our list and become willing to make amends to all those we have harmed in the past.  The use of the word all (twice) in this step compels us to dig a little deeper…. there is no room for half measures.

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

That word, ALL, can be a little daunting.  Much of what we have written to this point is a complex mixture of our faults and the faults of others.  Fortunately the Eighth Step tends to lead us toward new insights and a new understanding of the work we did in Step Four.  We begin to realize that we may have played a part even in our resentments.  We start to see the ways in which our faulty thinking guided our reactions or instigated some of the situations where we felt we were wronged.  Common examples include resentments toward family members, law enforcement and authority figures that dealt with our behavior harshly.  Even if we feel that we were treated unfairly we now examine the ways in which our behavior contributed to the surrounding circumstances.  When the actions of another were truly outside of our control we take responsibility for allowing our resentments to build and cause further harm to ourselves and others.

“He can make little headway in this new adventure of living until he first backtracks and really makes an accurate and unsparing survey of the human wreckage he has left in his wake. To a degree, he has already done this when taking moral inventory, but now the time has come when he ought to redouble his efforts to see how many people he has hurt, and in what ways.”  ~ Page 77 of the 12 & 12

This is where the word ALL really comes into play.  In the end it may not be appropriate to make amends to everyone, it may take time before we become willing to make them all but we must list them.  The results of our work in Step Eight are carried out in the steps that follow.  We trust the process.  We trust our Higher Power and pray to be guided further into willingness and appropriate action.

Working Step Eight:

  • Using the Fourth Step Inventory to guide you make a separate list of all persons you have harmed in any way.  Is there anything that needs to be added?  Anyone that was not on your inventory?  Yourself?  Complete your list with rigorous honesty.
  • Next to each name write down possible amends.  Do you owe an admission?  A sincere apology?  Financial amends?  A change in behavior?  List any combination of these or any other amends that you feel would be meaningful and appropriate in fully rectifying the wrong.
  • On another sheet of paper write about anger, resentments or the fear of repercussions that affect your willingness to make amends.  What are your fears?  What holds you back?  What would need to happen for you to be willing?
  • How can you use the previous steps as tools for working this step?
  • Continue to pray for God to remove all defects of character and to lead you into willingness.

The Eighth Step demands that we humble ourselves in order to fully love and forgive ourselves.  Regardless of the other person’s reaction to our efforts we will receive forgiveness from our Higher Power and we will be released from the guilt and shame that has driven our misguided thoughts.  Review your list of amends with your sponsor in detail before you move forward.  An outside perspective from someone who’s been there is extremely important in effectively working this step.  There is no room for half measures if we truly want to be free.

 “Self-seeking will slip away.”  ~ Promise Eight

Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps

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