Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

How It Works: 12 Steps

Step Eight

"We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."

The destruction of our active addiction has left lasting scars and limitations in our lives. The purpose of the Eighth Step is to find freedom from these limitations in the present and for the future. As with many things, we have a fear of looking too closely at the pain of our past. By recalling where the parts of our leftover pain began, we can cut it out by the roots. The first associated memory may provide a clue. Sometimes, we will find our amends lie in directions that are far different from where our fear and imagination had placed them. We addicts seem to love familiarity. We become familiar with feelings, both good and bad. We become too familiar with good feelings and push our luck trying to feel more ecstatic. We become familiar with bad feelings and hold on to them, wallowing in pools of depression. Hasn't anyone ever told us that we don't have to hold on to bad feelings? We develop a better understanding of the nature of harm after a while. We finally own that we have harmed ourselves. Do we still want to carry a load of guilt around? Maybe we do, but that’s only because we think there might be some future benefit from it. We must remember that there isn't and there never will be!

‘Listing’ is merely writing down names of those people to whom we feel we might owe an amend. We can make separate lists for those we are willing to make amends to right away, those who we have harmed but don't feel we owe amends, and those we may have harmed but never want to have contact with again. Our sponsor may help us determine who to make amends to, especially where making amends may be harmful or dangerous. We may later decide that no amends are called for. The key at this point is that we have to exercise our freedom to write down the names no matter what the outcome may be. As we ask God to remove our defects of character, we set forces in motion that lead us to consider other people. We acknowledge and accept the limitations placed on us by unfinished business from the past. When we feel hemmed-in or restricted by fear or guilt, we can remove it by positive action. Amends allow us to correct what is out of order. The wreckage of the past often leaves us with a desire for revenge or a fear of the revenge of others. Either way this imbalance makes it hard for us to live fully in the present. We worry about past problems and future retribution instead of being free to live in the present. Working Step Eight helps us restore our balance and resume the everyday functions of life clean.We no longer have to look over our shoulder. We can walk free of shame as our load of guilt is lifted.

To be part of the human family, we need to find harmony in our relationships with others. When we lose our humility, we make ourselves targets of envy or victims of pride. The world helps the person who is open, relaxed and attentive. The world fears the proud and arrogant because they don't appear to care about people. We may think of the earlier Steps as mending our own being. To continue the recovery process, we must heal our sick and damaged relationships with other people. We do not knuckle under, making ourselves into doormats, or inviting attack with our vulnerability. We are mending links and building bridges to other people. When we come around to a place where we don't fear others and we sincerely want to help, it creates a change in others. The person they meet in us is the difference. If we are hiding something or keeping a secret agenda, other people will pick up on our dishonesty. It is not a failing in them that they can detect our game and protect themselves from our intrusion into their lives or our taking of their goods. When we learn the art of giving, they will come to us to receive what they need. They, and we, will have no need to fear.

A person not familiar with spiritual principles may have problems determining the amount of commitment or application they have to apply before getting visible results. Reservations have way of canceling out our spiritual actions in the same way a wire that is broken will not allow your television to switch on. To get results our amends must be strong and connected to an impulse of restitution or restoration to those we have harmed. Expectations of positive results is important, as is the willingness to take the necessary actions, and the ability to concentrate on what you're trying to do. These abilities combine with belief to trigger the spiritual shift or miracle we're praying for. It may help to bear in mind that we are seeking help where all other efforts have failed _ and we are getting results! This is why NA is known as a spiritual program. The NA 8th Step frees us from others being able to push our buttons, thoughts of revenge or fear of revenge, fear of discovery, acts of sabotage, recrimination, justification, endless blame assessment, and incarceration, legal actions and physical harm. Unless we are totally willing to make the amends, we will feel no relief and experience no positive change from the Eighth Step. The measure or our willingness is up to the individual for who can know the heart of another.



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Reprinted from the 
Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life, 
Traditions War: a pathway to peace,
The Spirit of NA 
or NA Twenty Plus

being edited on this site.

Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.

NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA


All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.