Step Eight

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step Eight Outlined

"In this chapter we're going to explore how to use this Step to further our health and growth, as this Step applies to our codependency. There are two pertinent ideas in this Step: making a list, and becoming willing to make amends to everyone on it."


"As we work this Step the first list we may want to make is a list of those who have harmed or wronged us. I understand this is a controversial idea and not what the Step says. I understand this is a controversial idea and not what the Step says. But I have a plan for this list and some ideas about helpful amends that I'll discuss in the next chapter."

"We have been wronged. We have allowed ourselves to be harmed. Sometimes, as children, we had no choice and no way to protect ourselves. Sometimes we feel wronged by many, and not just as children. Who hurt us? Who do we feel victimized, mistreated, used, or abused us? Who has rejected us, spurned us, caused us pain? Who do we resent, fear, or avoid because they have hurt us? Who are we rejecting because of what the other person has done and because of our inability to take care of ourselves with that person?"

"Make a list. Put every name you can think of on that list. If you have done your inventory work thoroughly, you should have gotten most of the details and grievances out of yourself. If you find new thoughts emerging and need time to write about them, do so."

"Once you have finished that list, put it aside. Take out another sheet of paper and make your second list. This list is just as important as the first one. This is the list of people you have harmed."

"Now we are entering into some exacting, focused work. Often, it is helpful to pray for Divine Guidance and wisdom as we embark on this project. Who, exactly, have we harmed with our codependent behaviors? Do not suppress yourself by worrying now if you are going to have to apologize to these people or what you are going to say, or whether you will look foolish. It is not yet time to address those issues. For now, we are focusing on making a detailed list of those we have harmed."

"As we make this list, be firm but compassionate with ourselves. Avoid wallowing in guilt. Feeling guilty and ashamed is not the purpose of this list. Being done with guilt and shame is our goal here."

"Do not be obsessive. Do not become unduly entangled in irrelevancies or imagined shortcomings. Look at your behavior in a quiet frame of mind and allow the names to emerge that need to be on your list."

"Now, let's move on to finances. To whom do you owe money as a result of your codependency? Put their names on the list. Perhaps we have borrowed and not repaid. We many have lied or manipulated to get money that was not legitimately ours out of fear or a need to survive."

"Perhaps we got so enmeshed in our codependency that we neglected our fiscal responsibilities. Put the names of the people we - not someone else - owe money to."

"As we consider and make this list, strive for a peaceful balanced frame of mind. If guilt or anxiety overtakes us, put pencil or pen down, stop, and retreat into a peaceful place. When our balance has been restored and we are making our lists from peace, acceptance, and compassion for ourselves, return to work."

"This Step requires soul-searching. It is not a Step to punish us nor is it a Step to remind us of our need to feel guilty. It is a Step to set us free from guilt, anxiety, and discord."

"We need to be open to guidance as we work this Step. Often, our tendency is to feel guilty about everything we've ever done and anyone we've come in contact with. Much of what we're feeling that we call codependency is unearned guilt. If we find ourselves enmeshed in unearned guilt, it may help to make a separate list: people we haven't harmed but feel guilty about anyway. Sometimes if we have an abundance of unearned guilt with a particular person, we may want to look behind the unearned guilt and see if there is some hurt or anger lurking there, anger disguising itself as guilt."

"Now we are approaching our third list. It is as important as the other two we have made; maybe this one is the most important. For years I have heard this idea bandied about in recovery circles, but we need to take action on it, particularly as it relates to recovery from codependency. The name that goes on that third list is our own name."

"We are usually the people we have harmed the most with our codependency. We are the people we most need to become willing to make amends to. By repressing our feelings and thoughts, neglecting ourselves, criticizing ourselves, shaming ourselves, denying reality, being so frightened, holding ourselves down, pushing ourselves back, believing absolutely undemanding, we have certainly done ourselves wrong."

"Denying and depriving ourselves is wrong. Not trusting ourselves or listening to ourselves is wrong. Not loving ourselves is wrong."

"Allowing ourselves to be lied to and deceived to the point that we no longer listen to or heed our instincts is wrong. Thinking we're crazy and bad for surviving is wrong. Holding other people's issues or inappropriate behaviors against ourselves is wrong."

"Allowing ourselves to be abused or mistreated is wrong - regardless of the degree of abuse. It is not okay to let ourselves be talked to or touched inappropriately."

"It is simply not okay to allow ourselves to be victimized."

"Neglecting ourselves is wrong. Ignoring what we want and need, sometimes to the point that our minds, bodies, and souls rebel by getting sick, is wrong."

"Neglecting or diminishing our gifts and talents is wrong."

"Being ashamed of ourselves is wrong."

"Harboring anger and resentment toward ourselves is devastating. We can spend a lifetime punishing ourselves and allowing others to hurt us, too."

"Every behavior we list as codependent is in truth a wrong done toward ourselves. Sometimes it involves a wrong done to someone else, too. We need to be absolutely honest about both. Until we do, we will not have the map for the rest of our recovery."

"This is the Step where we come to terms with that idea. This is the Step where we list all persons we have harmed. Until our name goes, in ink, on that list, our lists and our recoveries will be incomplete."

"It may be helpful to take this Step in small spurts. Guilt and anxiety are our weak points, anyway. Let your list be an ongoing project, adding to it as names and incidents enter your awareness. Work on it a little each day. Then do something peaceful and relaxing immediately afterward. Read a meditation book. Call a friend. Do something to uplift your spirits."

"Caution: There is no reason to feel guilty or prepare to make an amend, if what we have done is to take care of ourselves. Saying no, setting a limit, not allowing ourselves to be used and abused, saying how we feel, taking care of ourselves, and beginning or continuing on a recovery course are not wrongs we have done. Often, we tend to feel guilty about these behaviors because that is part of changing ourselves and because we are breaking old dysfunctional rules that tell us not to do that. We do not have to apologize for appropriately taking care of ourselves."

"The goal of this Step is to be honest with ourselves, not unduly hard on ourselves. For many of us, being too hard on ourselves, too critical, is a problem we associate with codependency. Often, making this list can be a relief. After thinking through and taking this Step, many of us find that much of our guilt has been unearned. Often, we come up with a few behaviors we truly do not feel good about. Sometimes more. But this Step is here to help us. It helps us clarify exactly what we have or have not done and sets us on the path to taking care of ourselves. The point in doing this Step is not to make ourselves feel guilty. It is to uncover any guilt we're already feeling or running from, then remove it."

"The purpose of this Step is to restore us to right relationships - with ourselves and other people. By the time we've completed this portion of this Step, we may have three lists: people who have harmed us; people we have harmed; and the list with our names on it. Now it is time to put our pencils or pens down and do the spiritual work required by this Step: achieve willingness to make amends."


"What does it mean to "become willing to make amends to them all?" This Step calls for a change of heart. It asks us to drop our defenses, our protective devices, and to begin to seek peace and healing in all our relationships."

"It does not mean we go back into dysfunctional relationships or systems. It does not mean we stop taking care of ourselves, even if others claim that our self-care has harmed them. It means we search out our indiscretions toward self and others. It means we become willing to seek peace and reparation in all our relationships, past and present."

"This Step asks us for a change of heart, so that our hearts can be healed and opened to love. Do not fear the amend. For now, do not think about the amend. Contemplate willingness, a willingness to take care of ourselves with people."

"We will not be asked or required to do anything foolhardy or inappropriate. All we are becoming willing to do is make appropriate amends, to take responsibility for our inappropriate behaviors toward others and toward ourselves."

"How can we learn to love until we become ready to take responsibility for our part?"

"Healing begins within us. It begins with a thought, a vision, a feeling of willingness. A great chain of healing and love begins when we make the decision to take care of ourselves with people and to come to a place of peace about our relationships. We take ourselves out from under the control and influence of others and their addictions; we align ourselves with recovery, ourselves, and our Higher Power."

"We are beginning to own our power in new ways, ways that we have not known before. We are taking ourselves out of anxiety, shame, and guilt, and stepping into peace."

"We have stopped fussing over others. We have taken the risk to look within. Now, we are asked to take an even greater risk - that of quietly, but clearly, accepting responsibility for ourselves, and our behaviors."

"This Step, and the next, heals our relationships with ourselves and others."

"We are on our way to learning to own our power in any circumstance and in any situation. We are learning how to stop allowing others to victimize us and to stop victimizing ourselves. We are giving up our victim role."

"We are part of a new consciousness. It is this recovery work that each of us is doing that will stop the chain of victimization and abuse - not just in our lives, but in those around us. Many of us have wanted to change the world. Well, we are - simply and quietly, by doing our own work and our own healing."


"There is a quiet, honest place that this Step takes us to, a place of dropping defenses and pride, a place where we shed victimization. We become willing to clean our slate, in peace and honesty."

"Take this Step as soon as possible after making your list. Take it whenever bitterness, resentment, victimization, or fear enter in. Take it whenever you seek and desire peace and healing with yourself and with others. We do not have to do this Step too soon. We do not have to do it until we are ready. But when it is time, we do not want to procrastinate."

"This Step gives us permission to stop fighting with others and ourselves. We can learn about ourselves and then grow and move forward from that lesson. We can love, forgive, and be forgiven, and accept all that has happened."

"Do not worry about doing this Step well enough. Do not use it to make yourself feel guilty. Use the list you have in your heart or on paper. Then open yourself to willingness."

"All this Step asks us to do is make a list, then become willing to honestly take care of ourselves and our behaviors with people. Regardless of the part played by another, we are now free to identify, own, and take responsibility for ourselves."

The Source for this Step Eight outline: Melody Beattie's: "Codependents Guide To The Twelve Steps"

  • Go To Step Nine Outlined
  • Return To Main Coda Page