The only thing within you that is capable of controlling you is the thing you choose to ignore. You do not have to close your eyes on your life or your past. How often has shame, guilt, and fear caused you to act out, resulting in adding another layer to the already deep hole of despair? We’re going to excavate your past, revealing the truth, in a personal archeological journey. In 12 step recovery this process is known as the 8th Step: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
A courageous review of the past
A. Make a list of everyone you feel you have harmed. Listing the people you’ve harmed is simplified when approached in three ways:
1. People you are harming presently, including yourself.
2. People or institutions who tell you that you have harmed them, and they want restitution.
3. All other people you think you have harmed from the past, especially those you feel bad about.
B. Review your lists and for each person, institution, including yourself, write down what you did or failed to do that caused harm.
C. Looking over your list of the harmful behaviors write down what caused you to act out. Here are a few common reasons, you could use:
- Seeking to bolster your ego
- A desire for emotional security
- Financial fear or ambitions
- Pride or defiance
- Social ambitions
- Sexual desires
D. Now that you’ve looked at what caused you to do harm. Take another look at your list and write down what the nature of the harm was. Here are a few common reasons, you could use:
- Self-seeking – Jealousy or Envy
- Lack of self-discipline or self-control
- Trying to control, manage or manipulate others AKA “Playing God”
E. The final stage is to determine and write down what you could have done differently to not inflict the harm on yourself or others in each instance.
You’ve done all of the courageous soul-searching to create an inventory of personal harms you’ve perpetrated and learned what you could have done instead. What’s next? Learning how to manifest the willingness to make amends to yourself and others for the harm you’ve done.
Answer the following questions:
- How do you become ready to make amends to yourself and those you’ve harmed?
- How will you know when you are ready?
1. In your notebook make 3 columns. Label the columns:
- In Time
- No Chance In Hell
2. From your Harms Inventory list each person or institution under the corresponding column that relates to your level of willingness.
3. Do not commence to make amends to those on your Harms Inventory list without guidance. You can possibly bring further harm to others or needless inconvenience to yourself through premature or ill considered amends.
Please feel free to share your experiences or questions in the comments section below.
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