Reaching step eight of AA means that you’ve spent a great deal of time working on yourself, reflecting inwardly on your character flaws, admitting them out loud, and finally turned control over to your higher power to remove them.
In step eight of AA, we begin to turn our focus outward. In steps eight and nine, we’ll begin making amends to all of the loved ones we hurt while we were blinded by addiction.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
By the time you’re through with this program, you’ll be an expert at making lists.
What Does Step Eight in AA Mean?
Step eight in AA revolves around the spiritual principles of honesty, forgiveness, and compassion, among others. We’re also practicing holding ourselves accountable for the harm we have done. We’re exhibiting compassion by imagining how we have harmed others and how we can start to make reparations.
Recovery is mainly about the addict stopping his or her use of the substance. However, addiction is a disease that harms more people than just the addict themselves. While we allowed ourselves to be controlled by alcohol or drugs, we hurt a lot of people who love us. In order to live a normal life, we need to make amends to these loved ones.
Remember, though, that it takes time to heal from trauma. Simply apologizing to the people we’ve hurt isn’t usually enough to fully make amends. We’ll likely need to show these loved ones how we’ve changed, how things will be different in the future. Keep in mind there is also the possibility that, while they may choose to forgive us, some of the people we’ve hurt may decide they don’t want to continue to have a relationship with us.
This is a difficult outcome, but it’s one we must prepare for. It’s important for us to make amends to everyone we may have hurt, whether we anticipate the situation going our way or not.
How to Work Step Eight in AA
To start, write out a list of all the people you can think of. Feel free to include your own name on the list.
Once you’ve written out all the names you can, split them into four categories:
- People you’ll make amends with as soon as you’re on solid sober footing
- People to make partial amends with so as not to hurt them or others
- People to make amends to later
- People you may never make direct personal contact with
Even though this step focuses on our external relationships, self-reflection is an important component of the recovery journey that should be ongoing. Here are some questions to ask yourself as your working step eight in AA:
- Am I resenting anything about the idea of making amends?
- Why is a simple verbal apology not enough to make amends?
- Why is simply changing your behavior not enough to make amends?
- Do you have amends to make to people who have also hurt you?
- Are any of the people you need to make amends to a threat to your safety?
- What would your life be like if you had already made these amends?
Doing the Mental Work First
By now you’ve likely noticed a pattern with the 12 steps of AA. First, we dedicate a step to the mental process before moving on to the next step where we work on changing the behavior.
This is one reason why the 12 steps are so effective.
Addiction is a complicated illness and there are both mental and behavioral components. However, for any person, addicted or not, to make major changes to his or her life, they need to first change their mindset before they can change the situation.
In order to make a significant and lasting change, you first need to create a vision. At this point, your vision is to live a life free of the shackles of addiction. To effectively turn this vision into reality, you need to be extremely clear on all of the details. Making lists is a helpful tool for achieving this.
Once you have the picture and the details clear in your mind, only then can you begin working on the behavior component to create change in the situation.
Need Help with the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous?
The 12 steps are a thorough program because they emphasize changing the mentality before changing the behavior. The group environment helps provide participants with support, perspective, and a safe space of other people who understand.
At Any Length Retreat, we use the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to help addicted men and their families to find lifelong recovery. Our inpatient programs range from one to three months and we offer services like recovery coaching and sober living. Give us a call today at (512) 746-0138 to find out if our programs are the right fit for you.