Step Eight of Twelve is where the rubber begins to hit the road. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
The essential character trait is Responsibility.
In the process of working these steps our candidate for sanity has already done a ‘fearless moral inventory’ and has ‘admitted to God and another human’ what he did. So what is Step eight about? It is about taking responsibility for our actions; taking responsibility in a very direct way.
This is no game folks. In step four we might have written “I have been adulterous.” In Step Eight we write “I was adulterous and hurt (insert name) by my behavior.” Then we ponder – what ever can I do to make up for this? This is about repairing relationships. Page 79 of AA 12 x 12: “Learning how to live in the greatest peace, partnership, and brotherhood with all men and women, of whatever description, is a moving and fascinating adventure.” We are talking about spirituality in action. A 12 step program will challenge anyone of any faith to be more cognizant of their respective faith – and a 12 Step Program will hold people accountable to their faith..
Opportunities to minimize our own behavior are natural defensive tactics – but these must be confronted. Others have wronged the alcoholic and addict – others indeed behaved badly. But who is in a program of recovery? Who is this really about? The recovering person – to gain the most benefit – will not dwell on the actions of others. They will focus on their own behavior.
The behavior of practicing alcoholics and drug addicts can bring out the worst in others. If the addict wishes to be forgiven – should not that addict be forgiving first?
It is supremely easy and convenient to fall into a state of rationalization. One might reason that the drug use hurt no one but self. The alcoholic had to sleep under the bridge, not the spouse or children – does this not seem logical? These rationalizations are convenient ploys to avoid honest evaluation. They are natural elements of human defense mechanisms – but must be overcome to be successful in this venture. Fear and pride can hinder recovery.
It does not matter that some amends can never be made, perhaps the aggrieved person has since died, but they must go on the list. The recovering person must address the emotional harm done to self. The issue of restitution aside, this process allows the recovering person great insight into their self. More is being revealed.
This is about learning responsibility, taking responsibility, and living responsibly. This is about responsibility in a context of spirituality. And spirituality is about love.
See Also: On Addiction