Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
There are many misconceptions of the Twelve Step program, one of which is how long each Step should take. One guy I spoke to years ago told me he’d been working on his 6th Step for a little over a year. Huh? How is that possible given the 6th Step is simply a one-hour meditation directly following our 5th Step reading of our 4th Step inventory? Others I spoke to at meetings would tell me they were working the Steps again for the third or fourth time in a month or year. Huh? This is why it is important to read the Big Book carefully and interpret this process as best we can. Done thoroughly and without relapse, the first 9 Steps don’t need to be repeated. They deal with the past and that’s that. Our 10th, 11th and 12th, however, go on forever, as you will see. These steps give us the tools we will need to maintain our spiritual health. Sure there will be new wisdom to acquire, new actions and lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your life, but these Steps are certainly a good start and will help you to build a solid foundation. Continue reading
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
The action of the 8th Step is simple and straightforward. We go back through our lives and write a list of all those we have harmed. Some will tell you that the list of people you resent becomes your amends list, but that is not the case. There are many people whom you may resent but haven’t outwardly wronged. So our 8th Step amends list is a new list of any people or institutions (stores, creditors, schools, police stations, etc.) that we owe an amends to. If you have wronged a person or an institution, are able to make amends, and if the amends will not cause more harm than good, go and make them. All of our amends must be valued equally, and all amends MUST be made if we are to cement our foundation and become truly free inside, even the most ambiguous of amends where the person has also wronged you terribly. What they did to us is completely irrelevant to our agenda. We clean up our side of the street and that is all. To repeat the urgency and importance the Big Book gives to the consummation of our 5th Step, these amends should also be considered a “life-and-death errand.” Continue reading
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
The 5th Step instructs us to read our entire written inventory to another person before God. Don’t sit on your inventory for weeks or months as you will just accumulate more resentments along the way and it can easily spiral into the never-ending inventory! Schedule a time to read with either your sponsor, another trusted guide in the Steps, or some mentor or confidant such as a family pastor.
We must be thorough and fearless. Remember that we read our inventory to initiate the process of letting go. We have been honest with ourselves, but now it is time to be honest with another person, which is humbling and requires courage. Here we are given the opportunity to shine a light on our past as we expose, uncover and hold our character defects under a magnifying glass. We dig it up once more, let it out, and confess our skeletons in the closet. Exhuming what we have buried and what shames us the most can be humbling and humiliating, but it is also crucial for the consummation of this process. There will be no “entire psychic change” unless we do this, and do it completely. If we confess 99% of what we’ve done but leave that one BIGGIE out, we may fail, and all of this work will be for naught. Continue reading