Hey friends, Vance Johnson here, former NFL player and current recovery advocate for the Vance Johnson Recovery Center. This week we will continue with our 12-step journey to step eight, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
We’ve covered step seven, “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” Now that we have requested our higher power to remove our shortcomings, you should feel more comfortable being honest with yourself in step eight, knowing that you are working to become a better person and fixing your mistakes.
However, you still need to take responsibility for the pain you caused those around you. Step eight was a hard step for me, friends. I found myself wanting to start over instead of digging up the past. But I can honestly tell you that if I were not held accountable for my past actions, I would have never stayed accountable for my recovery. Let’s take a more in-depth look at step eight.
The Purpose of Step Eight
One vital part of understanding step eight is knowing the purpose behind this step. We have all had moment where our actions have caught up to us. For example, after abusing my first wife, I made a public appearance on Oprah Winfrey to apologize and take responsibility for my actions. I wanted to get clean and be a better man, but I didn’t take accountability for all of my actions, so it didn’t stick.
Twenty years later, I had to account for every action and every person, not just the worst ones or those I thought would forgive me. It wasn’t until I created the entire list that I realized all the pain I caused in my addiction. Seeing this list allowed me to confront the lies I told myself for years about how I am a good person, but my “alter ego” likes to party and have a good time. Once you see an entire list of those you have hurt and the pain you have caused, you begin to see yourself for the person you really were, allowing you to let go of that pain and become the person you truly want to be.
Tips for Successfully Completing Step Eight
Take accountability, even if they wronged you: This was hard for me; I wrong many people but didn’t some of them deserve it? Didn’t some of these people hurt me too? Why do I have to take responsibility if they will not? The answer is simple: You have to take responsibility for your role, not someone else’s. Yes, my father was abusive, but I will take responsibility for the pain I caused him during my addiction. Not forgiving that person costs us our freedom, not the other way around.
Write it ALL down: You may be concerned about having a paper that contains all the wrongs you have ever done. I know I was! I did not understand why I had to write it down. Why can’t I apologize to those I harmed as I remember? The answer is short and sweet: To know your harmful patterns, you have to see them. Once you have written out the harm you have caused others, you begin to see a common variable, you.
Make a complete list: Remember this list is for you more than those you harmed. In order to successfully complete step eight, you have to include every single harm and every single person whom you harmed. Even if you think there is no way they will forgive you, or maybe it’s impossible to make amends with them in this life, still, write it down. My son, whom I wronged, passed away before I could make amends with him. Writing that down and knowing I could never tell him how sorry I am, did not seem fair, but still, it was essential for my recovery.
Include yourself: If you catch yourself remembering the ways that you hurt yourself, write it down. We can make amends with ourselves too! Once we see the ways we have hurt ourselves, we can begin to stop our self-destructive nature.
You Can Recover From Your Addictions
Whether you’re working the seventh eight or you’re just starting a program, you can always get help with your recovery. I, and everyone at the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, want to help you achieve the long-term happiness that I’ve been able to find.
Do you want to talk about your recovery? Call our admissions specialists at 888-828-2623, or reach out online through our contact form. I want you to get help, and so do our highly trained staff. Let’s talk about what our treatment center can do for you.
Vance Johnson is a former wide-receiver for the Denver Broncos, from 1985-1995. At the height of his career, Vance was in the throes of an addiction to alcohol and various recreational drugs. Vance finally began to take his recovery seriously and underwent inpatient addiction treatment. Today, Vance is drug-and-alcohol-free and encouraging others to get sober. As a Recovery Ambassador, Vance participates in speaking engagements across the country, where he recounts his struggles and offers hope that truly anyone can get sober.