Step 8 of AA

Step seven asked you to embrace humility and actively ask your higher power to remove your shortcomings. Step seven asks that you take up some of the responsibility and make another inventory. As you did in step four, you will look honestly at the life you were leading and isolate the times when you wronged other people.

Step eight states:

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

You will need to search your conscience for every single person you harmed. If you feel guilt when a person pops into your head, there is a great likelihood that you need to look more deeply into your relationship. Guilt is a signal to you, even when you still have a haze of denial.

Removing denial will always be to the betterment of your recovery as there is actual research-based evidence that a reduction in denial is connected to better treatment outcomes.

The following post should help you to understand the step and its intent as well as help you to work it. If you need additional help with your 12 step program, you can always give us a call at 800-839-1686. Our caring counselors can answer all of your alcohol addiction recovery questions. Just ask!

What Role Does Guilt Have in Step Eight?

Step 8 of AA

Making amends will help you overcome feelings of guilt and shame.

Earlier steps probably made you feel some level of guilt. That truly isn’t their intent, but it is hard to look unflinchingly at your life and to not feel some level of regret, guilt, or shame as you examine poor choices and terrible behavior. It’s natural. Proneness to shame is actually higher in populations of addicts.

What is also natural is the human desire to escape guilt, to cover it up. You might tell yourself to ignore it; why make yourself feel bad for no reason? If you can’t change it, you might see no point in considering it. However, trying to cover guilt just keeps you connected to it.

The longer that you grapple with unresolved guilt, the more likely you are to feel really ashamed about the person that you are. There is no denying that feeling or justifying it away. The more you try to push down the feelings, the more they will spill over into other parts of your life, ripping at your self-esteem and sense of self.

What Should Be on My List?

In order to fully voice what you did and how that harmed other people, the list should be more than just a series of names. If you can’t put what you did on paper, you are still running from the guilt.

Include:

  • Name of the injured person (or organization/institution/group)
  • The details of the harm
  • How the person responded to the situation
  • Your current feelings about what took place
  • Your goal in making amends
  • The type of amends that would be appropriate

Also, don’t forget to add yourself to the list. You have certainly been harmed by your drinking and you deserve to have things made right.

Why Does My List of Amends Need to Be Physical?

What Kind of Amends Are Normal?

Most commonly, people make amends by acknowledging what they did and apologizing. Depending on the situation, a cash payment or another tangible offering may need to be made. There are situations where the person can no longer be contacted or where the contact would do more harm than good. These situations make traditional amends impossible. In these situations, make a personal pledge to yourself to do better in the future and honor that promise.

What If I Don’t Feel Willing?

It’s not unusual for people to balk at making certain amends because the person involved in the situation played a role in what happened as well. Chances are, the people you need to make amends to have wronged you at some point as well. It’s too easy to latch onto that and use it to get out of making things right.

Don’t beat yourself up or feel like a failure if you are having trouble remaining willing.  Acknowledge the difficulty you are having. Then, remember that this is about your recovery, not theirs.

If you find yourself struggling with willingness for weeks or months, take some time out and meet with a sponsor, therapist, clergy person, or another trusted advisor. Some people advise praying for the other person’s wellbeing every morning and night for a few weeks. It can help lift the lingering weight of resentment. You can also try positive affirmations or mantras.

This isn’t the time when you make amends. This is the time when you develop an inventory and work on your willingness. Don’t jump ahead to step nine. Remain on step eight until you are ready to progress. Run your inventory past an advisor before proceeding. Don’t rush.

If you would like additional information or to be connected to treatment, detox, and other recovery aids, call 800-839-1686. A counselor is waiting right now to help you.

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