Why Does My List of Amends Need to Be Physical?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the eighth step of AA states, “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” Many people would prefer to make this list in their heads, but most individuals in AA, as well as sponsors and counselors who have been helping patients achieve recovery through the program, will likely tell you this list should be physical.

What Does It Mean for the List to Be Physical?

It means that this list must be tangible, as opposed to created in your head. Some people write it down on paper the old fashioned way, while others may keep it on their phones, laptops, or another electronic device. Either way, it should be somewhere you can easily carry it around with you, but for all intents and purposes, it must be physical.

Why Does My List of Amends Need to Be Physical?

List of Amends

Being able to carry your list of amends wherever you go will serve as a good reminder.

For those who prefer to keep things––like grocery lists, recipes, and work-related accomplishments––in their minds, this can be a frustrating concept. However, the list really must be physical for several reasons.

  • If you keep the list in your mind, you are liable to forget something or someone important. Even if your mind is usually very sharp, alcohol abuse can often cause memory impairment, and once you remember something you need to make amends for, it is better to write it down (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
  • Having the paper or electronic list with you wherever you go works to serve as another reminder of your commitment to avoid alcohol abuse and to work toward your recovery in all ways. If you have the list in your mind, it can often be forgotten, but if you keep it in your wallet, phone, or something else you see every day, you will continue to remember the promises you’ve made and the ways in which you are moving forward in your recovery.
  • We often take things much more seriously when they are written down, and actually creating a physical document is a way to begin acting as opposed to just keeping a thought in the back of your mind. Therefore, this act increases the seriousness of your dedication to making amends.

The people you have hurt with your alcohol abuse deserve your amends just as much as you deserve to recover in a safe and effective way. Your list will serve as a reminder of their needs as well as your own, and you can begin to make real changes in the way you interact with others and live your day-to-day life if you take this list and its implications seriously.

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