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Don’t Just Say Sorry

November 28, 2015

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“I am making amends and seeking forgiveness. My only hope is that some good can come out of my situation.” Jayson Blair

Saying sorry just isn’t enough. It’s not nearly enough when our words or our behavior have harmed another person. What does go the distance is a decent amends, because it has the potential to repair any harm done and restore balance in a relationship.

You see, there is a difference in quality and kind between saying sorry and making an amends. The amends takes an apology to the next level. An amends is an attempt to repair the harm through compensation, restitution or some sort of redressal of the hurt caused by the poor or thoughtless behavior.

And the amends can take different forms.

For example, we can make a sincere apology for our words or behavior, but to make them an amends, in the very least,  the apology has to be followed with a commitment to not ever make a repeat of it.

Or we can make a heart-felt apology for something we’ve done that’s resulted in another person experiencing some sort of loss — for example, financial or material. When coupled with some form of restitution, like repayment of money or replacement or repair of goods or property, then we are making an amends.

And of course, the amends we most often overlook is the amends we need to make to ourselves. How we’ve let ourselves down. How we’ve given up our power in a relationship. How we’ve discounted our own worth. How we’ve not trusted ourselves. How we’ve unwisely placed our trust in unsafe people. Or how we’ve not honored our needs. So how can we begin to repair the harm we’ve done to ourselves? The amends would be to make a commitment to never, ever do that to ourselves again and to begin to put that commitment into action.

In short, an amends is an apology plus action.

Even when we make the best possible amends, we can hope for forgiveness from others but we can’t expect it. However, an amends thoughtfully and reasonably skillfully executed can set the stage for creating mutual respect, appreciation and, yes, even forgiveness.

Making amends is a powerful way to repair harm done between people and restore relationships to balance. We could even call them a form of reparation.

But we are not talking court-ordered reparations, because in the realm of relationships, the only court that matters is the human heart.