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Step 8 of Overeaters Anonymous – Be Present to Your Impact

As part of my continued Ode to the 12 Days of Christmas for Bulimics and Anorexics this post is about Step 8 of Overeaters Anonymous, which reads:

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

Let’s break this step down into two parts – (1) make a list and (2) became willing to make amends.

The first part of this step – made a list of all persons we had harmed – is about considering the impact our addictive, destructive behaviors have had on those around us.  Keep in mind some of those who are around us before may not be around us right now.

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Going through your past and looking at the impact your eating disorder had on the people around you is a very humbling experience.  You get real present to how your ways of being affect others.  I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you whom you’ve harmed because often it’s very close to the surface the relationships you’ve crushed or destroyed.

I will ask you to pause once you’ve reviewed those who come to mind immediately and consider the people that were impacted by you, but maybe not your immediate circle.  Imagine the ripples your lack of integrity, lies and shadow self caused in the lives of friends of friends and beyond.

The second part of this step – became willing to make amends to them all – is crucial to your growth.  The key word in this step is “willing”.  Whether you take the time to track down all of the people in the world you directly or indirectly impacted with bulimia is not as important as your willingness to do so.  The opportunities to make amends may be such that they’re nearly impossible (someone’s passed away or you’ve lost touch).

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Being a person who is willing to make amends is a sign of tremendous strength and courage.  Saying you’re sorry to someone has an amazing healing effect on both you and the person you say you’re sorry to.  While the words “I’m sorry” don’t just roll off the tongue when we think back to how screwed up we left things with some people in our lives.

If you can come to a place where you’re strong enough and healthy enough on your road to recovery that you can look into your past like this then I commend you for taking this step.  Go boldly into your past and look carefully at what you did to others and then be present to the impact how you were towards others had on them then and has on who you see yourself as today.  You cannot do this work and not transform yourself.  It’s amazing.

I hope you’ll give it a try and recognize that Step 8 of Overeaters Anonymous does not require you to do anything but look at the people you hurt and become willing to make amends with them. That’s all.

If you’d like to share your comments or feedback on my interpretation of this (step 8 of OA), please feel free to leave a message below.

Get ready for my next post – Step 9 of Overeaters Anonymous (OA).  Here’s a preview:

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.