Eight Step: We Become Willing
“We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Many Old Timers believe the Spiritual Principle of Brotherly Love is the basis of Step Eight. We must first remember the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was written in a time when this was a commonly used phrase. For our purposes, Brotherly Love is showing kindness and compassion towards others without expecting anything in return. We are finally on a step where it’s no longer making things right within ourselves; we can start making things right with others.
The next Spiritual Principle, albeit obvious, is Willingness. We sometimes hear in meetings, “If you don’t have the willingness, then pray for the willingness to be willing.” For some reason, Sponsors love telling us that, too! Some of us may arrive at Step Eight with a sense of urgency to make right all the wrongs we’ve done. We can harness some of that energy towards our Willingness. The first part of this step, “We made a list…” is where we can continue to practice the Willingness we learned in the previous steps. The Willingness to make amends only comes after creating this list. We may need to be reminded that it is a list, and concentrate on just the people, places and institutions we may have harmed. The Willingness to make the actual amends will increase once our list is complete.
What a wonderful foundation we’ve been building upon! The Honesty found in Steps One, Four and Five comes to the forefront as we look into our hearts and determine who we have harmed. Our Fourth Step inventory and Fifth Step admission will help us in creating this list. We are careful not to leave anyone off and write the list to the best of our ability. Making the Ninth Step amends is the pink elephant in the middle of the room that we carefully teeter around and ignore. We must make this list without consideration of making the actual amends. Again, it is just a list!
Gathering the Courage we discovered in Step Four, we move forward with our list and our Willingness to make our amends. Some of us categorize our list into three columns: First, those we are ok with making amends to; Second, the ones we’re not crazy about making amends to, but we’ll do it anyway and finally, no way on earth am I making THAT amends! We find the Courage to write the list regardless and the Courage to make the amends will come from our Higher Power in Step Nine.
After practicing Steps Six and Seven, we arrive at Step Eight with a better understanding of who we are and our place in the world. In the grand scheme of things, we really are just like everyone else. We all have the same fears, dreams, feelings and emotions. We finally have Compassion! We are more understanding of others and actually feel empathy towards them, possibly for the first time. We are no longer thinking of just ourselves and saving our hides, but we start to care about other people. Wow! Who would have thought a disease based in selfish, self-centeredness would allow us to finally feel human?!
We are now ready to go on to Step Nine and make amends to the rest of the world. Go to Step Nine