The way I did it was in three columns
1st column: Whom I harmed. (People, places and things.)
2nd column: The nature of the harm
3rd column: What did it feel like being THEM on the receiving end of my harmful actions?
or harmful OMISSION of actions?
How might I have felt if that had been done to me?
But more importantly, how did THEY feel?
This is an exercise in EMPATHY.
In placing oneself in the ROLE of another.
And seeing the world through THEIR eyes.
From a position we may NEVER have inhabited previously.
You have to get inside their skin.
Walk in their shoes.
See it from THEIR perspective.
In its full unadulterated emotional and mental glory.
Its often not a pretty sight.
Its not easy.
Harm is not such an easy concept.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have harmed another when in fact we HAVE NOT.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have NOT harmed another when in fact we HAVE.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have NOT harmed another, bacause THEY HARMED US and we imagine that that somehow invalidates any harm we might have done them.
This is why having a sponsor is so important.
Oh yeah and I do not NOT include myself as a person I have harmed. If you had even the slightest glimples of the RAMPANT SELFISHNESS of the average alcoholic, you would know why this is so laughably irrelevant.
Your sponsor should oversee your step 8 list from the word go, IN CASE YOU ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG. If you meet your sponsor once a week at a meeting, just bring the list along so she can look it over. That's all it takes, no big deal.
THE THIRD COLUMN SHOULD BE HEARTBREAKING.
If it is not. THEN YOU HAVE FAILED IN YOUR ATTEMPT TO TRULY !! UNDERSTAND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE WOUNDED BY ANOTHER.
Personally. I can tell if the person writing the third column doesn't give a toss about the affect their actions have had on the people who were unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of their self centeredness.
I can just 'tell' when they finally DO manage to 'crawl inside the skin' of the person they harmed. I can just 'feel it' when that happens. And I can smell indifference and BS at 100 paces.
So I am a hard person to impress in this regard.
VERY OFTEN, I tell Sponsees to GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN.
I do not accept anything less than a SINCERE and ACCURATE ESTIMATE of the EMOTIONAL harm they INFLICTED (knowingly OR unknowingly) on those they came into contact with.
Step 8 is a TOUGH one.
You finally get to see the lacerations and tears on the heartstrings of others. That is ENTIRELY down to YOUR ACTIONS. No one else's.
Plus emotional harm always f*cks people up in some way.
It makes them insecure
It makes them doubt themselves
It makes them think they are BAD
It makes them think no one will love them
It makes them think they are SHIT
It makes them angry and frustrated
It makes it harder for them to perform theor obligations at work
It makes them drained
It makes them more likely to lash out at those closest to them
It increases their sense of shame
It makes them preoccupied and worried
It makes them withdraw into themselves
It makes them feel like they are bleeding inside
It makes them feel like they have been stabbed in the chest
It makes them feel like they have been punched in the stomach
It makes them frightened to ever trust another person
It makes them frightened to ever trust their own judgment
It makes them think that they deserved it
It makes them think that everyone knows how shabbily they have been treated
It makes them think that being treated like SHIT was NORMAL
It makes them afraid of getting close to another human being ever again
It makes them afraid of people
It makes them expect abuse
It makes them expect shabby treatment
It makes them give up
It breaks their heart
It makes them a nervous wreck
It makes them afraid all the time
It makes them afraid of being touched
It makes them afraid of sudden movements
It makes them lose faith in human nature
It brings them down and makes them negative
It makes them think "All men/women are bastards"
It makes them think "You can't trust anyone"
It makes them think "What's the point?""
It makes them cry
It makes them sad and they don't really know why they are sad. Its all just one BIG SAD FEELING that follows them around like a ghost
It makes them think they can never be themselves because they were so cruelly rejected in the past that they believe no one could ever truly love them
It makes them believe wholeheartedly, that they are unlovable
It make them think they are 'jinxed'
It make them think people are not very nice
It makes them think they are worthless
It makes them think other people can see that they are worthless
It makes them numb, because they cant deal with the feelings
It makes them feel like they are worse then others
It makes them frightened to talk to others about what is really going on, because hey are ashamed
It makes them feel as though the rug has been pulled from under them. (Hence the choice of photo above)
All these LOVELY observations, and MORE are part of the PICTURE YOU PAINT of 'what it was like being THEM. What did I actually DO to that person REALLY?
What did I really DO to that person???
What was the END RESULT of the actions, or OMISSION to act, that ENDED UP HARMING THAT PERSON?
So yeah. That's just how I did it. Hope that helps!
Yes Step 8 is a bit FULL ON and HEAVY. But that is as it should be.
Step 9 is a whole other ball of wax. Don't even THINK about it during step 8, as it will roadblock you.
Also here is a similar note from a guy who I knew from my old home group who went through the steps the same way I did.
Here is a link to his webpage on Step 8 from the website called "Misery is Optional"