Step eight is a test of our newfound humility. During this step, we seek to achieve freedom from the guilt that we have carried. To do this, we have to do the work to repair the wreckage of our past lives. This is not easy; it demands a new kind of honesty about our relationships with other people. The eighth step starts the process of forgiveness, where we forgive others, are possibly forgiven by others, and finally, forgive ourselves. By the time we reach this step, we have become ready to understand rather than to be understood. We can live and let live easier when we know the areas in which we owe amends. It will make us feel better to clean up our lives by relieving ourselves of the guilt. By writing our list, we can no longer deny that we caused harm. We admit that we hurt others and make a list of that includes all of those we have hurt. We then face this list honestly and openly examine our faults so we can become willing to make amends.
During the previous steps, we focused primarily on repairing ourselves and our relationship with our Higher Power. It is during this step that we begin to involve other people in our healing process. Specifically, this involves identifying who we have harmed, how we have harmed them, and becoming willing to make amends to them. The eighth step is the beginning of the process that lets us feel equal to others. Rather than experiencing feelings of shame and guilt, and a neverending feeling of “less than”, we become able to look people in the eye and finally lose the fear that we will be caught and punished for some neglected responsibility.
It will be important to take our time during this step. Like many before us, we may feel the urge to jump ahead and make things right. If we do this in the wrong way, however, we may end up making things worse. Thus, during this step, we need to come to a complete understanding of the ways in which we have harmed individuals in our past in order to ensure our list is thorough. Once we have come to this understanding, we can then begin to make our list. During this time we will sit down, recall all we have learned about harm, and start putting names down of the individuals we have harmed as well as how we have caused them harm. After our list is complete we have to take the steps to become willing to make amends to each of these individuals. During this time we will focus on the spiritual principles of honesty, courage, willingness, and compassion. Today you can take the steps necessary to become willing to make amends to those you have harmed in the past. By doing so, today you can become that much closer to being free!