Two powerful words set the foundation of the title for this article. Understanding the difference between an apology and making amends might be a good place to begin. According to author Tim Stoddart an apology is like putting a band aid on a wound; it covers the source of the pain until it eventually disappears. “When you make a sincere apology to someone that you’ve hurt, it makes you both feel a little better, but it doesn’t really do anything to correct the situation that you have caused. Making amends is the best way to reconnect with the people who have been deeply hurt as a result of your actions. Whether your goal is to amend a family relationship, a work relationship, or to humble yourself before others whom you have offended, making amends is an important step toward rectifying a broken situation.” As difficult as it may be coming clean and taking responsibility for any pain you’ve caused someone else benefits the injured party and is an integral part of your own personal growth and healing. It takes courage and strength to admit wrongdoing and be accountable for your actions.
In Stoddart’s article “The Difference Between Making Amends and Making Apologies,” he references the importance of educating adults about making amends especially in the area of addiction as taught in the 12 Step Program (number 8 & 9) of Alcoholics Anonymous. According to Stoddart there are 3 types of amends: Direct Amendsdeal with taking personal responsibility and confronting the person whom you want to reconcile with. You will intimately discuss the reasons why you did what you did, and you will fix, re-pay or repair any physical damage that you have caused, to the best of your ability. Indirect Amendsare ways to repair damage that cannot be physically undone. If you have committed a crime in the past or are in a situation where you cannot confront the people whom you have offended, there are ways to make amends, indirectly. If you physically assaulted someone or committed theft, a way to indirectly make amends would be to volunteer in a shelter or take part in a program that will directly benefit others who need assistance. Living amendsis a positive way to display to others and to prove to yourself that you have evolved from the person that you used to be. Living amends is a promise to yourself that you have made a genuine lifestyle change. This is a marked end to the destructive patterns that you have been living with and a beacon for change and prosperity.
Sadly, there is no formal course study available in primary and secondary education to assist students with such a vital coping tool. It is left to the parents and primary caregivers to model to their children what it truly means to make amends. How can you expect a young child to respond correctly to his/her wrongdoings by making amends if it’s not something they witness from their parents, elders or siblings in their own home? Parents must learn to “practice what they preach.” Albert Einstein shared his genius idea that no problem can be solved by the same consciousness that caused the problem in the first place. A shift in perception must occur from that of selfishness to gratitude and humility for making amends to be authentically given.
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, August August 4, 2019