Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
— Step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous
When I got to the Eighth Step I was kind of disappointed that they use the word “harmed.” I didn’t like it because I didn’t like the thought of me actually hurting people. We get a taste of peace after working the previous steps and then Step Eight comes crashing in like a bowling ball. Announcing we’d done harm.
And I felt bad. Like I was supposed to.
The other problem I had with Step Eight is that I was pretty timid for much of my life and my drinking. And I felt like others had harmed me just as much, if not more, than I had harmed them. Yeah, I’m sure every alcoholic says that.
Anyways, so then I was thinking about Step Seven, and humbly asking God to remove my defects of character. Selfishness was one of my most glaring defects. Selfish with my time. Selfish with my understanding, selfish with my forgiveness. If you hurt me then I had nothing but intolerance for you.
But if I want to be rid of that selfishness then I need to practice the opposite as they say. For me to do my part in Step Seven I need to be generous in Step Eight.
Generous with my honesty by honestly looking at myself and what I’d done. Generous in my forgiveness for others and what they’d done. Generous with my tolerance. I needed to be generous with my humility. The humility that they call for in Step Seven.
And once I found those things the willingness came easier. The willingness to make amends. To them all.
If I’m generous then becoming willing to forgive others and to ask for forgiveness, to make those amends wasn’t so hard.