Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
— STEP EIGHT OF AL-ANON
The Eighth Step is not meant to punish us; it is meant to set us free from guilt, anxiety, and discord.
We begin by making a list of everyone we have harmed on our journey, as we have struggled to survive. We have probably done more damage to ourselves than to anyone else, so we put ourselves first on the list.
Often, our tendency is to feel guilty about everything we’ve ever done, everyone we’ve come in contact with. That is unearned guilt. Writing helps us clarify whether or not we are punishing ourselves for no reason. But we need to be open to guidance as we work this Step, getting everything out of us and on to paper, so we can be healed.
Once we have made the list, we strive to become willing to make amends to everyone on it because that is how we will heal. Making amends does not mean feeling guilty and ashamed and punishing ourselves; it means swallowing our pride and defenses, and doing what we can to take care of ourselves. We become ready to improve our self-esteem by taking responsibility for our behaviors. We become willing to have our relationships with ourselves, others, and our Higher Power restored.
Today, I will open myself to an honest understanding of the people I have harmed. God, help me let go of my defenses and pride. Help me become willing to make amends to those I have harmed, so that I can improve my relationships with myself and others.
From the book: The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series
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