Friday, May 1

Step 8 – I’m sorry and all…

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

OK…we’ve come SO far now and yet, when you think about it, there’s still so much left to do. I’m certain that we can all agree that our behaviors have hurt someone. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons you want to change them and get rid of them. No one likes to cause others pain, no one likes to hurt those they love. And yet, often, after we DO hurt them, we find it so difficult to make it right. Again, it’s those excuses and justifications that we hear. You know the ones I’m talking about…

She won’t believe I’m sorry anyways.

I’ll apologize to him later. He’s too hurt right now.

It wasn’t THAT big a deal.

I’m sure that you’ve probably got your own personal favorites. :-)

“We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self- appraisal. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory…”
-A.A. Big Book

This is where Step 8 comes into play. We’ve now done the personal and emotional ground work to move on to working outside of ourselves. Now we start to make a difference in the lives of those we care about. Notice something here though…This step isn’t about running right out and apologizing to everyone. This isn’t an apology step. This is a step about making amends.

Webster defines amends as: compensation for a loss or injury

So what kinds of compensation do you have to make? Well, see that’s where you have to rely on your heart and the new willingness that you’ve gained going through the prior 7 steps. In most cases, it probably won’t be enough to just say, I’m sorry. Sometimes, you may just have to listen to what the hurt has done to that person’s emotions. Sometimes, you may have to do more.

I want you to notice something else about this step. “If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes”. This is not a step that’s forced. You KNOW that you need to make amends, but sometimes it might take a while to get to the point where you CAN make amends. And remember…never, EVER; put yourself in harm’s way in trying to make amends.

Sometimes, when you try to make amends, the other person simply won’t accept it. That’s OK. You are doing your part in this process. You can’t force them to accept your amends; you can’t demand that they forgive you. That is THEIR choice and all you need do is try and then accept what they choose for their life.

“The Eighth Step is not easy; it demands a new kind of honesty about our relations with other people. The Eighth Step starts the procedure of forgiving others and possibly being forgiven by them, forgiving ourselves, and learning how to live in the world. By the time we reach this step, we have become ready to understand rather than to be understood. We can live and let live easier when we know the areas in which we owe amends. It seems hard now, but once we have done it, we will wonder why we did not do it long ago.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text

We all owe someone an apology. That’s just the way life goes. Usually it takes a strong and courageous person to actually make that apology and mean it, with sincerity. You are ready now to do just that. Like NA says, understand, listen and feel what they are telling you. Then you’ll be ready to give all your heart into making things right.

Thursday, April 30

Getcher Groove On!

Ok…now, before going any further reading today, check out this amazing little video.

Now that you’ve seen that awesome little clip I want you to think about what you just saw. See, there are some people that believe that math is a universal language, or binary, or love, or whatever. I believe that there are many universal languages that we can all use to communicate with each other. However, I think that the best and most complete is the language of music.

It’s a language that can evoke strong emotions from everyone. Joy, happiness, laughter, pain, sadness, and tears. It doesn’t matter what language the song might be being sung in, you can feel the emotion and know what the song is about.

Think about the video again for me. Do you remember what you saw? Odds are, you probably don’t, but I bet you’re humming the song to yourself right now. :-)

“When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me”

It’s a beautiful song of universal fellowship and brotherhood. It applies to EVERYONE. There isn’t a person that can say, “I have NEVER felt that way before.” That’s what makes music so powerful. It speaks to us on a deeper level than any other language we could possibly ever use. The only thing that might be better would be telepathy (and if you’ve figured that one out, call me RIGHT NOW!) The simple fact is that music doesn’t exclude anyone, but rather, pulls everyone into one moment. It encourages us to live right in the moment. And EVERYONE responds to it. We all sway to the music, tap your foot, bob your head, or even sing along.

“If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah”

Eventually, we will be gone from this planet. Someday, we will move on. Regardless of the reason, regardless of the method, we will end. I hope and pray that before that happens, we are able to find a way to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and share the moment that music brings to us all. We’re not enemies, none of us. We are, all of us, human beings. Brothers and sisters living on this tiny little world.

I will encourage you all to take a day, one whole day, and reach out a hand to everyone that you meet. Smile at everyone that crosses your path. Talk to them all and be a bright spot in their day. Find the music that you care in your heart and soul and let it come out. Bring it to the surface and share the moment with everyone around you. And for one day, just that one day, do your part to make the world a perfect place for all of us.

“Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darlin', darlin', stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me”

Know that today, and every day, you are a light for someone else. You can be, and probably are, the music in someone else’s heart.

I love you all, and believe in you more. :-)

Wednesday, April 29

Step 7 – Time to be humble

“Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”

OK…so I’m betting that you’ve had enough of patience for the moment. :-)

Now it’s time for Step 7. Which, you just might find to be a bit more difficult than the whole patience thing. See, here we’ve got to reign in the horrible beast of pride. Pride and ego and anything else that is saying you are in control and got everything covered. It’s pride and ego that make you believe that the hurts that you’ve caused aren’t really that bad. They are the source of your excuses and justifications. In short, they are a BIG part of what’s holding you back and keeping you stuck.

“When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.”
-A.A. Big Book

Notice that the step starts with Humbly. This is the ONLY way to do step 7. You can’t keep on telling yourself the same old excuses. You can’t keep standing on your pride and expect any sort of change or success. If you find that you’ve still got that niggling little voice in your head, grab your personal inventory and give it a glance. That should shut that little voice up. :-)

This is again a step of surrender, just like step 3. We are again admitting to ourselves that WE can’t fix us. We look to a Higher Power and ask, not demand, not tell, not beg, but simply ask for help.

Remember that the 12 Steps are as much a spiritual process as a character changing and growth process. Step 7 is VERY much a spiritual step. Spiritual growth never happens without humility. It’s the attitude or a student, willing to place yourself in another’s hands and believing that the best will happen. We realize that the way we were working before isn’t working and we’ve reached the point where we should be able to say to ourselves, “Let’s try this another way.”

“The Seventh Step is where we make the change in our attitude which permits us, with humility as our guide, to move out from ourselves toward others and toward God. The whole emphasis of Step Seven is on humility. It is really saying to us that we ought to be willing to try humility in seeking the removal of our shortcomings just as we did when we admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, and came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. If that degree of humility could enable us to find the grace by which such a deadly obsession could be banished, then there must be hope of the same result respecting any other problem we could possibly have.”
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

This is also a removal step. You have you list of behaviors and what contributes to them all. Now is the time to start removing those things that support or start the behaviors. This might mean a change of friends, hang outs, activities, etc but it might also mean a change in thoughts, responses, and the internal monologue that we all have constantly going on inside our heads. This part is VERY important. You can’t make a change if the sources of the behavior are still staring you in the face. Let’s be real, you’ve made the list, you’ve laid the groundwork, and dammit, YOU’VE BEEN PATIENT…so let’s get to work now. Restructure your environment for success. It’s time to clean house.

“This may also mean action on my part in getting rid of sources that lead me to addictive behaviors. If it is my pride that makes me believe that I can still live with these sources of temptation, then the sources need to go along with my pride. I rid my life of those things, people or situations that are causing me to fall or stumble as far as I can do so in a responsible manner.”
- From

And remember…you’re not alone on this path. You have support and love, if you take a moment to look around you for it. So look up and look over and see me smiling and waving back at you.