What Is Step 8 of AA?
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
What Is the Purpose of This Step?
In Step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous, you identify the wrongs of your past so that you can repair the damage you’ve done. Then, you devise a plan for creating healthy relationships moving forward.
How Do You Complete This Step?
Realize that you hurt others as well as yourself with your drinking.
- Discover how many people you have hurt and how you’ve hurt them.
- Make a list of everyone you’ve harmed. Also, pay attention to what you discover about yourself and your problems along the way.
- Don’t be defensive and blame people for how they’ve treated you. Forgive them, because without forgiving others, you cannot forgive yourself.
What Are Some Tips for Completing This Step?
- Don’t minimize your faults and failures by focusing on the faults of others.
- Realize that you hurt others as well as yourself with your drinking.
- Look beyond your obvious defects and do a thorough examination of your flaws.
- Avoid judgments of others. Be objective when evaluating your defects as well as those of others.
What Are Some Myths About Step 8?
- Your drinking hasn’t harmed anyone but yourself. People often think that if the damage isn’t extreme and noticeable, then there isn’t anything beneath the surface. This is a dangerous misconception and something AA calls “purposeful forgetting.” You can’t get the most out of the 12 steps if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable and incredibly honest—even if what you discover about yourself and others is painful to accept.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. (1981). New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. Available at: www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step8.pdf
Perspectives on Step 8
By Dominica A.
Step 8 is a wonderful step for beginning to rebuild some bridges that were burned in active addiction. When addiction had its grip on me, some of my relationships with loved ones became strained, and I hurt some of those closest to me. This step gave me the chance to reflect on my past and take full responsibility for my part in the burned bridges.
Thankfully, all of the previous steps brought me to a place where I could honestly sit down and create a list of the people I’d harmed and become willing to make amends.
Feeling Authentic Love
Step 8 is based upon the principle of authentic love.
Steps 1 through 7 were more personal steps, as their focus was more on my past thoughts and actions that caused me to make some internal changes. Step 8 asked me to continue making changes by revisiting my past and making a list of those I’d wronged somehow.
In addition, I was preparing my heart to become willing to actually make amends to such people in Step 9. I had to become willing to offer my apologies to those I’d hurt and extend a good dose of authentic love. This required humility and trust that such actions would help me in my recovery and benefit the greater good.
Now, this step wasn’t easy. Owning my selfishness and taking responsibility for hurting others was painful. It’s easier to point fingers at others or just look the other way. It’s easier to let bygones be bygones. But when I really humbled myself and honestly went inside on this matter, I realized I was carrying around guilt and shame. The people I’d hurt did not deserve it, and I knew if I wanted to continue to grow personally and spiritually, I had to be willing to make amends and do the right thing.