20 questions to finish your 8th and 9th step

The 8th and 9th steps are the most challenging part of your 12 step journey. This blog is about making it as straight forward as possible to complete.

By the time you get to steps eight and nine, as J. Keith Miller suggests in his book Compelled to Control you have let go of your deep aversion to revealing any reality that may be perceived as less than perfect. By step eight, the walls of denial have begun to crumble. You need to see more clearly what happened that bruised the relationship with that certain person you need to make an amends to. At least with me, the beginning of the eighth step process was filled with projecting my denied anger, need to control, justify onto the other person. I was ‘willing’ to make an amends and I knew I didn’t want it to be all about what the other person did to me.

So, after facing all my shameful stuff from step four, I had to revisit that process in preparing to make amends to this certain person. I HAD TO LET GO. I had to let go of all the things I thought this person had done to me, I had to stop taking this person’s inventory, I had to realize I wasn’t responsible for what other people did. But I was still asking ‘How do I do this?’

Enter Cinnie Noble. Cinnie is a conflict coach from Toronto, Canada. Every week she writes a blog on how to handle conflict. A couple of weeks ago she posted the perfect eight step blog, without her really knowing it! So, I thanked Cinnie for her wisdom and borrowed the first 10 questions from her blog Reconciling Differences . I renamed her post to ‘Letting Go’ and posted onto my blog last week.
As I began answering Cinnie’s 10 questions, I could feel the release of my projection, denial, anger, need to control, justify and thoughts of being rescued around this situation, as well as many other disputes.

Do you need to complete an eighth step? Sit down and answer these 10 questions:

1. What specifically are you not letting go about that specific dispute?
2. Using the answer from #1, what is particularly significant for you about that specific
thing or things?
3. What is the impact on you about not letting go of a specific thing or things?
4. What impact do you think this (not letting go) has on the other person?
5. What are you gaining from not letting go?
6. What are you loosing from not letting go?
7. If you think or feel it’s not necessary to let go or you don’t want to forget or the memory remains for other reasons, what are you holding onto about this matter?
And for what reason(s)?
8. What would letting go of that thing (or those things) be like for you?
9. What impact would letting go have on the other person?
10. In what ways does the memory you have of this situation reflect something you are not letting go about a previous situation (or situations) too?

Now, you have become willing to do the ninth step. Feel it? Acknowledge it. Breathe into it.
Next, think about the disconnect or the reason you didn’t communicate on the same level with this person you want to make an amends to. What were other factors that made you step away from the situation, relationship or person you ‘think’ you could make an amends to. Think about the ‘disconnect’ and answer Cinnie’s next series of questions:

1. How may you describe the disconnect between you and the other person?
2. How may you describe the disconnect within you?
3. What does that feel like for you? What do you observe that the disconnection is like for the other person?
4. How badly do you want to be reconnected on a scale of 1-5, 1 being very little and 5
being very much?
5. About what may the two of you still be connected?
6. What will connection look like when you achieve it?
7. What do you need, right now, to reconnect?
8. How do you want to feel about the other person when this occurs? How do you want
him or her to feel about you?
9. How do you want to feel within you and about yourself?
10. How may you salvage these connections in the future when you begin to disconnect
from yourself and the other person?

Do you think you are ready for the ninth step? Jot down some brief notes about what you have discovered about yourself, not the other person. Maybe, include all of your answers to the last 20 questions.
Engage in a conversation about your experience answering these 20 questions with this person. That’s what I did! I miraculously did a ninth step and gained much more knowledge about myself than I ever expected.

Thank you to J Keith Miller, author of Compelled to Control, Facing Co-dependence and Hunger for Healing and many thanks to Cinnie Noble and her blog on Conflict Resolution that appears on http://www.cinergycoaching.com and her book Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model

Melissa Killeen is a recovery coach for executive and entrepreneurs in recovery; interested in repairing the damage their addiction has had on their work-life, business and relationships. Her web site http://www.mkrecoverycoaching.com features weekly blogs on the recovery process.

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2 Responses to 20 questions to finish your 8th and 9th step

  1. Steve Clair says:

    Melissa, thank you for the post. One thing that came to mind when reading this was “Forgiveness”. Part of the preparation for making amends is forgiving the other person and/or my-self. Without forgiveness I cannot reach the humility necessary to truly let go and be at peace no matter what the outcome of the amends. Steve

    • Melissa says:

      A very very good observation! I will add this ‘forgiveness’ part as an exercise to complete at the end of step 8 as well as step 9 . . . I will consider using your comment”Without forgiveness I cannot reach the humility necessary to truly let go and be at peace no matter what the outcome of the amends.” Well said.

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