Step Seven is about becoming entirely ready and willing to have these defects improved or removed. This might sound easy — of course we want our defects removed. Our defects, however, sometimes have served us in some way. For instance, perhaps our defect of self-righteous anger gives us a sense of superiority and importance. Giving us such self-righteous anger might be more of a sacrifice than we’re currently willing to pay. Step Seven is about confronting our defects of character — in particular the ones that are still giving us some sort of payoff — and becoming ready to give them up. In Step Seven, we humbly ask our higher power to remove these defects.
In Step Eight we make a list of all the people we have harmed. We turn back to our fourth step inventory. We review the people listed on that inventory, then take a close look at the fourth column (which is where we have written down our own faults). We determine what individuals we have harmed and write down those names.
In Step Nine, we take the list we made in Step Eight and determine a way to make amends to those individuals. An amends is not merely a verbal apology — it is both an admission of wrongdoing, and the sincere intention to change the behavior in ourselves that caused such pain. Amends can come in many forms: they can be a sit-down apology; an honest, heartfelt letter; a financial reimbursement; an act of service; or what is called a “living amends’ — an agreement to live differently in the future. Our 12-Step Contact and our higher power will help us determine what amends we should make and how. If we have worked the previous eight steps thoroughly, we should be able to show up to our amends as a changed individual. The amends process can be a very healing process for both ourselves and our loved ones. By “cleaning our side of the street” we will find new self-confidence, a sense of integrity and intimacy with others.
Step Ten is to take a daily inventory of ourselves. At the end of our days, and periodically throughout the day, we review our conduct, attitude and beliefs. We look at where we may be acting selfishly, dishonestly, fearfully or with wrong motives. By staying self-aware, we are able to quickly spot when we are off track. This will prevent us from slipping back into our old ways or causing harm.
Step Eleven is about strengthening our prayer and meditation practices. It is through prayer and meditation that we both speak, and listen, to our Higher Power. Step Eleven helps us get in conscious contact with that little voice inside us that helps guide our path.
Step Twelve is about two things — number one: being of service to others, and number two: applying the principles we have learned by working the first eleven steps to our daily lives. By the time we reach Step Twelve, we should be very different people than we were when we first began. We should be more selfless, honest, compassionate and kind. We will want to help others find the freedom and joy we have found in recovery. It is not a burden to be of service, it is the bright spot of our lives. We have a new sense of meaning and purpose. We love others.