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Courage to Change:

Having lived with alcoholism, many of us have come to think of ourselves as innocent victims of other people’s abuse. It can be shocking to discover that we too have harmed others. Listing those we have harmed (Step Eight) becomes a discovery process in which a more realistic sense of responsibility can begin to develop.

In my case, however, the problem was not in recognizing the harm I’d done, but in letting go of my exaggerated sense of responsibility. I thought that everyone I ever knew belonged on my list, especially those who were disappointed in me. For example, my parents are unhappy with the partner I have chosen. My sister wants me to pay off her debts. My kids wish I’d let them stay out all night without calling. As I thought about this Step, I realized that I am not responsible for their unfulfilled desires. So when I revised my Eighth Step list, I needed to take names off.

Today’s Reminder:

Certainly I make choices that harm others and call for making amends. But sometimes a choice that is right for me may be uncomfortable or even unacceptable to others. Other people’s expectations are not my responsibility unless I have helped to create them. I can remind myself that conflict is part of life.

“With this Step we sort out our part, taking responsibility for our actions but also releasing ourselves… from the burden of falsely-held responsibilities.”
– In All Our Affairs

From the book “Courage to Change”. Copyright Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1992