In step 8, you make a list of all the people you have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. The work that you did in step 4, taking a moral inventory of yourself, will be useful as you work to make amends. You’ve probably already discovered many of the ways you’ve hurt others as you took your moral inventory. Now it’s time to take a deeper look at the consequences of your addictive behaviors and to work on forgiving others and making things right. Make a list of all of the people you have harmed, and carefully plan out how to make amends.
Getting Rid of Shame
While guilt over past wrongdoings can be a powerful catalyst for change, there is no room for toxic shame in the recovery process. Shame can lead you to believe that you have done bad things because you are a bad person. You may feel that you are unable to change because there is something wrong with you at your core. Anyone is able to change, and everyone has good qualities about them that can help them to overcome addiction. Concentrating on correcting the things you’ve done wrong will help you prove to yourself that you are capable of good things, and help you to dispense of toxic shame.
Making amends to people for whom you still harbor feelings of anger or resentment will end up being a futile act. You won’t feel a sense of release from your past wrongdoings, and the problems you have with this person will just crop up again in the future. Having anger and resentment towards others will make the recovery process more difficult, as these feelings can lead to substance abuse. Part of being willing to make amends to others is forgiving them for wrongs they’ve committed against you, and then making amends for your part in the situation.
Avoiding those you need to make amends to because you feel they deserved your poor treatment also is not going to help you truly complete step 8. You must seek out humility, reserve judgment, and ask God to help you forgive. Giving others the benefit of the doubt, assuming they didn’t hurt you on purpose, and recognizing your part in the conflict will help you have a more forgiving heart.
Just Get Started
Making amends can be overwhelming in the face of all of the damage that your addictive behavior has probably caused. An attitude of patience will be needed in order to complete the process. Remember you don’t have to make amends to everyone overnight. Making amends may be a process that takes years to complete. Step 8, like all of the others, is one that you will have to revisit over time. Your past addiction may hurt others in the future, and you will have to revisit step 8 to make amends to them at that time.
Don’t be discouraged or disheartened by the effort needed to make amends for your past wrongdoings. Just get started! Working through your list and brainstorming solutions will be a motivating force in your recovery. Once you get going, you will see your outlook on life improve, which will make the process much more manageable. If step 8 is something you were hesitant to get started on at first, it will turn into something you feel compelled to do. As you feel good about what you’re doing, you will see it become a force of improvement in your life.