The eighth step asks that we “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” Just as with the fourth and fifth step, many people arrive at step eight full of anxiety and trepidation, as they know the time for making amends is drawing near. Do not let these feelings rooted in fear inhibit your working a thorough eighth step! It is important to resolve any lingering feelings of guilt or shame resulting from harm you have caused others in your past. Here are some things to bear in mind as you work your eighth step to the best of your ability.
The eighth and ninth steps are a natural progression from your fourth and fifth step, and as you begin making your amends list you should be referring back to your fourth step. Just as you did with your fourth step, you need to be fearless and thorough when compiling your list of individuals to whom you owe an amends. Some of these may be incredibly uncomfortable to contemplate, but do not get ahead of yourself! The first part of the eighth step is simply getting everyone’s name and the reason for the amends down on paper. Worry about building up the strength and courage to complete the amends process later on, do not take on more than is necessary at any given time.
Once you have created a complete and thorough list of people who are deserving of an amends, it is time to start praying for your higher power’s help in order to garner the strength and courage to follow through with those amends. Now is the time to go over your amends with your sponsor and ensure there is no one on the list who would end up harmed or harming you during the process. Drug dealers whom you owe money, using buddies still deep in active addiction, and spouses of people with whom you had affairs are just a few examples of individuals who should be left off your amends list for the moment. Perhaps there will come a time when it is appropriate to make those amends, but for now you need to protect yourself and others from further injury as the twelve steps instruct.
The eighth step is all about preparation, getting your amends list down on paper and working with your sponsor and your higher power to summon the courage to follow through and make these amends diligently and completely. You may have a desire to rush your eighth step and get right to the ninth, but you should ensure you have mentally and emotionally prepared yourself for the amends process before jumping in. On the other hand, there are those who languish on their eighth step just as many do on their fourth out of fear of making those amends. This is a misstep as well - no one should linger on any of the twelve steps for longer than is necessary to work each to the best of their ability! As with every step of the twelve steps of AA, honesty, openmindedness, and willingness will carry you far. So long as you keep these three principles in mind as you embark on your eighth step amends list, you will find the process liberating and having a positive impact on your sobriety!