Step 8

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!

(Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash)

Step 7

We have experienced humility in previous steps.  In fact, the humility it takes to admit to powerlessness in the first step is often where we begin to experience humility as a necessity.  However, this is only a beginning.  To gain a vision of humility as the avenue of true freedom of the spirit takes most of us a long time.  After all, a whole life geared toward self-centeredness cannot be overcome all at once.  To be truly humble is to accept and honestly try to be ourselves.  It is as much a part of remaining clean and sober as water is to staying alive.  Ultimately, step seven is our opportunity to willingly try humility in seeking the removal of our other shortcomings, just as we did when we admitted that we were powerless over our addiction. 

Since we humbly admitted to our powerlessness in step one, the following steps have served to sow the seeds of humility in our spirits that will begin to grow in this step.  Specifically, in the first six steps, we began to learn our part in things.  Where we used to believe situations happened to us, we now see how we often created those situations.  We stop blaming others for our lot in life and begin to realize that where we have ended up has been determined mostly by the choices we have made.  But, humility is a sense of our own humanness.  By grasping it properly, we are better able to realize that we and others are truly human and make decisions both good and bad, with the hope that things turn out well. 

In previous steps, we also worked to form a relationship with the God of our understanding.  In step two, we first began to think about a Higher Power that could help us find recovery.  In step three, we made a decision to trust our Higher Power with the care of our will and our lives.  In step four, we leaned on our Higher Power to get us through and then shared with our Higher Power the most intimate details of our lives in step five.  During step six, we realized that our Higher Power can do more for us than simply help us to remain clean and sober. 

That work we did to build our relationship with the God of our understanding in the previous steps will pay off as we proceed with step seven.  During this step, we are encouraged to humbly ask the God of our understanding to remove our shortcomings.  This involves honest communication with our Higher Power in whatever way we deem acceptable (prayer, for example).  During this step, we are also encouraged to take action in the form of inviting our Higher Power to work in our lives.  We cannot keep a distant relationship with our Higher Power and expect to experience change through their presence.  This action will take the spiritual principles of trust, faith, patience, and of course, humility.  Today you can remain patient during the process and incorporate humility into your everyday life.  Today you can trust that your Higher Power will work in your life and have faith that you will experience change. 

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

Step 4

The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and contradiction that we have experienced in our lives.  We have begun a new way of life and need to rid ourselves of the burdens and traps that controlled us and prevented us from growing.  Through step four, we will begin our journey of finding out who we really are.  Up to this point, we have been experts at self-deception and rationalization.  By writing an inventory, we can overcome these obstacles.  Honest self-assessment is one of the keys to our new lives.

The fourth step is the beginning of a new era in our recovery.  Working steps 4-9 can be thought of as a process within a process, where we use the information we learned from the previous step to help us get through the next.  This method of learning about ourselves is as much about learning our character assets as it is about learning the nature of our wrongs.  It will help us to highlight the unresolved pain and conflicts of our past so that we are no longer at their mercy.  It provides us with a choice and a measure of freedom. 

So you might wonder what it means to take “searching and fearless” “moral” inventory.  Within this step, the word “moral” has nothing to do with specific codes of behavior, societal norms, or the judgment of an authority figure.  A moral inventory is something we can use to discover ourselves morally, our own morals, principles, and values.  They don’t have to relate in any way to the principles, morals, or values of others.  A searching and fearless inventory involves continuing with the inventory despite our fears.  It means having the courage to be honest, no matter how we feel about it, even if it makes us cringe inside.  It requires determination to be thorough, even when it seems as though we have written enough.  Finally, it means having enough faith to trust the process and trust our Higher Power to give us the ability to make it through.   

Ultimately, an inventory becomes a sort of relief, because, as you will learn, the pain of doing it is less than the pain of not doing it.  Through step four, we learn that pain can be a motivating force in recovery.  It can motivate us to remain sober so that we no longer feel the need to isolate or let the things that are bothering us build up.  When issues surface, we acknowledge them.  We begin to really enjoy our recovery because we have discovered a way to resolve shame, guilt, and resentment.  By acknowledging them, we have released the stress that was once trapped inside of us.  We have developed an ability to survive our emotions!  Today you can have relief from the stress you have been carrying around.  Today you can become or remain motivated to overcome your past.  Today you can remain sober!

(Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash)

Honesty

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” -John Lennon

2 Timothy 2:15- Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Ephesians 4:25- Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Luke 6:31-  Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Proverbs 11:3- The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Matthew 5:8-  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Being honest is not always the easiest thing to do, but as referenced above, it is always the right thing to do. Personally, I have found that being honest typically leads to better results as well. It can sometimes be uncomfortable and lead to unforeseen obstacles, but is always the right choice in terms of future relationships and consequences. Even in cases when we lie and get away with it, there always seems to be a lingering feeling of uneasiness regarding the dishonest act. Perhaps this is the feeling of shame which is referenced in 2 Timothy. We can avoid such feelings by doing our best to be honest and to do on to others as we would have them do onto us. After all, we are all members of one body and are encouraged to maintain integrity. Today you can maintain integrity. Today you can treat others as you would have them treat you. Today you can be honest!

(Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash)

Avoid Being Deceitful About Your Addiction

For me, being deceitful about my drinking habits became a steady routine after some time of serious drinking.  I thought it was easier for me to lie, hide, or twist the truth than, to be honest with people and deal with the potential consequences that would follow.  In hindsight, I suppose I did avoid a lot of the “consequences” I was trying to avoid, but by doing so, I developed other issues and, in many ways, more severe consequences. 

I would like to highlight some of the adverse effects being deceitful can have on us. Being deceitful leads us to having to remember the different stories we told different people, which can wear us out emotionally.  This could also lead to isolation.  Rather than having to remember what we told people, we might believe it is easier just to avoid them by isolating from them.  These behaviors can take a negative toll on our relationship with people, not only because of the behaviors themselves but because of the trust issues they will likely cause.  All of this can easily lead to anxiety, which can, in turn, affect our ability to maintain healthy sleep patterns as well.

By being deceitful about our addiction, we are also avoiding the issue at hand (our addiction).  If there are several people you are having to be dishonest to about your drinking/using habits, the chances are that it is an issue and needs to be addressed.   Avoiding the issue and other people can lead to a sense of insecurity as well.  Since security is primarily based on trust, eventually, as we lose the trust of others, we will begin to lose our sense of security in the relationships we have formed.  This can also lead to a sense of feeling misunderstood and ultimately may lower our self-esteem as well.  (Steber, 2018). 

As you can see, there are many adverse effects being deceitful about our drinking/using habits bring about.  They may or may not have manifested in your particular case as of yet, but why risk that?  How much easier would it be not to have to worry about being deceitful and hiding things?  Why not just remove this obstacle all together?  By remaining sober you can avoid all of these adverse effects being deceitful about your drinking/using habits bring about. Today you can avoid being deceitful about your addiction.        

(Photo by Jon Tyson)