Step of the Month: Step 8

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

Step nine, the making of amends, gets a lot of air time, but in some ways, it is step eight where the truly hard work of amends gets done. Think of it like exercising. The hard part isn’t the actual exercise! The hard part is walking out the door to go to the gym. The big roadblock is not in the action itself but in our minds. In step eight, we are stepping out this proverbial door en route to the spiritual gym known to us as…our lives.

In the first seven steps we have spent our time on a solitary path toward recovery. We are supported by OA and our sponsors, perhaps even by family and friends, but no one can go on our spiritual journey for us; it is ours alone. But once step nine rolls around, we return to the world having undergone a massive psychic change. Our amends will demonstrate to those in our lives, most of whom we’ve probably not told much about our move toward spirituality, that we have changed and that a Higher Power can make change in us. But we have to know who to make this demonstration to, and sometimes when we recognize the who, we find ourselves wanting for willingness to walk out that door.

We have to be specific to make any progress. As we did in step four, we make a list in step eight. But this time, that list is who we harmed, not who harmed us. To review step four for just a moment: Page 65 of the Big Book shows us three columns to write out: who we were resentful at, the cause of the resentment, and what it affected inside us (how it harmed us). In that second column, we described what burned us up about another person. Then on page 67 we are asked to write a fourth column of inventory for each resentment: where were we selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and afraid? Now in step eight, we are again asked to look at our inventory from the other person’s point of view. The self-seeking we wrote about in the fourth column of our own inventory is what we did to other people to get our way. We might imagine them writing inventory that includes us, and it turns out that our self-seeking behaviors are their second-column resentments! So we can start right there at making our list, and then we can ask God to show us other folks we may have harmed who were not in our inventory.

A question worth asking is what exactly is harm? Harm is usually defined as injury whether physical, emotional, or financial. In step eight we needn’t get overly specific about what harm we did to another, only that we caused it. For now, we are simply making a list of those we harmed. If we can answer yes, then their name goes on the list. If we aren’t sure, we pray for the truth from our Higher Power.

We need to be careful at this point that we don’t tell ourselves that we didn’t harm someone only because we know step nine is coming. Just because we don’t want to face someone doesn’t mean we didn’t do them harm. We might recognize that they did us a terrible harm, far worse than we did them. So what? That doesn’t negate the harm we did. And isn’t a willingness to proceed with an amends to that person a reasonable exchange for our abstinence, our happiness, and our freedom from the horrors of compulsive eating? Here our minds may place our pride and fear ahead of our recovery. If we listen to them, we will be troubled again. If we ask God to help us with them, we will make gains spiritually.

Step eight is not an overnight step. We may make a list of those we have harmed and find ourselves requiring time and prayer to achieve willingness for all the names on it. That’s OK. We become willing. If pride and fear put a wall up between us and willingness, we use the tool of prayer to chip it away. We will know when we are ready not because the fear and pride are gone, but rather because the way through them will seem passable, if not easy. In the meantime, we have made our list and are willing to be willing. We can move on to step nine and make the amends we are willing to make as we continue to pray about those we are unwilling to make. In other words, progress not perfection.



What Are the 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous?

OA is a “12 Step program” that saves our lives from the insidious danger of compulsive eating. But what exactly does that mean? What are the Steps? Why are they important? What happens if we do them? Or don’t do them?

“Our Invitation to You” from the book Overeaters Anonymous (aka: The Brown Book), tells us that OA is “not a diet and calories club.” While many of us come into OA wanting a solution to the physical issues that our eating has caused us, our program literature tells us that our cravings for food are “but a symptom.” A diet-and-calories club won’t address the underlying emotional and spiritual issues that allow the disease of food addiction to prey so easily on us. But that’s exactly what the 12 Steps are designed to do. That’s why our primary purpose is “to abstain from compulsive overeating and to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps of OA to those who still suffer.”

And so, what are those Twelve Steps? To put it as succinctly as possible, the Twelve Steps ARE the OA program of recovery. The Steps are simple but not easy. They require commitment, which we addicts often find in short supply, and they require facing the facts about how we’ve run our lives so far. Sometimes we’d rather duck the Steps altogether because we think the process of opening our hearts and hurts for healing will be more than we can stand. Probably every OA member has tried to get around the Steps at one time or another, and there are many tried-and-true ways to avoid them. Many of us have told ourselves that we don’t need the Steps to recover, we’ve gone to a different meeting where the Steps aren’t emphasized, fired the sponsor who recommended we start or finish them, told ourselves that the problem is our food plan and put all our attention on it, or we simply dropped out of OA and ate. But the pain of our disease brings us back to the Steps because we can’t live long or happily with the emotional and spiritual baggage that our disease uses to keep us enslaved to food and chained to our problems and our negative thinking. Once we know, there’s no not knowing.

So what happens if we do the 12 Steps? For one thing, we arrest our compulsive eating one day at a time. But that’s not even close to everything we get from the program. All of our program literature is filled with wonderful promises. We read a mere sampling at most meetings. Rather than repeat “The Promises,” which most meeting read, here’s some promises from the OA Twelve and Twelve:

From the isolation of food obsession we have emerged into a new world. Walking hand in hand with our friends and our Higher Power, we are now exploring this world, using the great spiritual principles embodied in the Twelve Steps as the map to guide our way…. (106)

We will be shown a way of life that is happy, joyous, and free, and in which we can finally be of true help to others. A definition of recovery is “to return to usefulness,” and that is another of the many benefits of the Steps.

We always have the option of not doing the Steps. They are a suggested program of recovery. But haven’t we already put ourselves through enough pain? If we don’t do them, we stay with the devil we know—our cravings, our bodies, our emotional pain, and the pain of being detached from anything spiritual. If we do them, and with an open mind and heart, we may find that the devil we don’t know is actually the Higher Power we didn’t realize we’d always wanted contact with. At the worst, we’ll have done some good work toward understanding who we are and what makes us tick.

Ultimately, a 12-Step program without the Steps is like a car without an engine. We might be on the road, but we’ll be stuck just where we are.

Announcing two exciting Seacoast OA events!

Seacoast OA is excited to announce events in May and June that can help us all make progress with our programs. Everyone is welcome!

Sponsor training

First on Saturday, May 16th, we’ll be offering our first ever sponsor training workshop. This one-hour session will cover the basics of sponsoring. You’ll hear from two local members with experience sponsoring, receive official OA literature on sponsoring, get time time for  questions and answers, and more. The session is free and does not require advanced registration.

Who should attend:

  • People who want to start sponsoring
  • People whose sponsors have suggested they begin sponsoring
  • Sponsors and their sponsees
  • Anyone who wants to sharpen their sponsoring skills

Saturday, May 16th
10:30 to 11:30 AM, immediately following the 9:00 York meeting
York Hospital Medical Office Building, 16 Hospital Drive
Basement conference room
Please share this flyer with your groups

Workshop on Steps 4 through 9

Following up on our popular March workshop on Steps 1 through 3, this afternoon workshop takes us through the “action Steps.” Learn about what the 4th Step inventory is and how to give it away in Step 5; why the 6th and 7th Step are crucial to our recovery; and how to make amends to repair the relationships in your life. Bring a pen, a notebook, and your copy of The Big Book because we’ll be doing this important work together!

This workshop is free, but we ask that you register ahead of time so that we have a headcount for the room and any materials.

Saturday, June 13th
1:00 to 4:00 PM
Portsmouth Community Campus
100 Campus Drive, Portsmouth, NH
Directions are on this flyer, which we encourage you to share with your groups
Register by email

We’ll see you in May and June!!!

Online Steps workshop!

Working ALL 12 Steps Online Workshop2015 is our year of Steps, Sponsorship, and Service. Now OA is offering online virtual workshops to help you gain understanding and experience of the 12 Steps.

Listen to the introductory session on “Step Zero” at, which describes as:

Members talk about what gave them the gift of desperation, and journal questions are offered to help members prepare to work the 12 Steps as the workshop continues.

Each workshop is the second Sunday of each month, from 3:00 to 4:00 PM ET. Sessions are being recorded and will eventually be posted at

So mark your calendar now, and on February 14th, call to join at:

  • Conference line: (424) 203-8405
  • Pin code: 952619#

If you have any questions at all, contact Here’s a flyer to remind you that will also be posted on our front page. Please share with other members.

Register for “Freedom Isn’t Free” Workshop, August 16th in Portsmouth

break freeRegistration is now open for “Freedom Isn’t Free,” a no-cost, dynamic one-day walk through OA’s 12 Steps. This workshop will emphasize the nature of the disease, getting honest about food, and the process of change. Our guide will be a 32-year OA veteran who has led 25 Step-study retreats.

Join us if you are…
…A newcomer interested in getting your recovery rolling
…A current member who wants to restart your program 
…A long-timer who wants to kick your program into a higher gear
…Anyone who wants a JOLT! of OA energy.

Register now by email or voicemail (603) 418-4398. Please provide your name, your phone number, your email address, and what Intergroup you are from.

Please download this flyer to share at your meetings.

Registration is FREE. We ask for registration because our room is limited to 100 attendees. Registrations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. So please sign up now!

Sponsored by Seacoast Intergroup

Saturday, August 16th, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Community Campus
100 Campus Drive Portsmouth, NH
Google Map

From I-95, take Exit 5 for the Portsmouth Traffic Circle
Exit the circle for Route 1 South
Follow Route 1 South for 2.7 miles
Turn right onto West Road (across from Corpus Christi Parish Church) and follow as it becomes Campus Drive
Community Campus will be on your left, please use the front entrance.