HAPPY THANKSGIVING! You might think of this holiday as a day to eat ‘til gorged and sit around resting your belly, watching football. For some, part of the day is spent listening to the bark and hiss of your family fighting about some unresolved thing again! Yikes. How about switching it up this year as many Americans do by seizing the opportunity to make an amends you’ve been putting off!
The philosophy of “making an amends” that I am talking about is derived from 12 step recovery, but I have found the core of the guidelines they suggest to be the most foolproof method of properly righting a wrong. Try these ground rules for a chance at a clean slate in your heart and mind!
P.S. There are so many helpful hints I might have forgotten or don't know!! Please add in the comments, your experiences are priceless!
1. Amends are best made face to face if possible and a family gathering might be the only time you and your brother or Aunt Jenny ever end up in the same space each year! Or maybe you have avoided Thanksgiving before because you're trying to avoid those people in the first place! Knowing we did something wrong can leave us with too many people, places, and things to avoid. Life can become closed off to us. When you're willing to make amends, those areas open up again. You don't have to avoid people any more. This is true not only for people in recovery but for all of us.
2. It’s not the same as an apology. Saying “Sorry”, without a commitment to not repeat the wrong is not the same. An amends is an “I was wrong and I won’t do it again”, type of statement.
3. It doesn’t really matter what the other person did. I know, this one really seems to be the sticking point for most people. But in general, even if the other person has a part, even a big part in what happened, they are responsible for their own amends and it should have no bearing on whether you accept responsibility for your own. Don’t even mention their part. Keep your side of the street clean.
4. Ask someone who knows you, loves you and you respect to listen to your amends before you make it. You can get a helpful suggestion or rehearse how to say it. It would be awesome if this person is good at making amends themselves and they seem to have a peaceful heart. 12 step people use their sponsor, but for people not in a program, any person who truly has your best interest and appears to have good judgement can be helpful.
5. Don’t make an amends that would hurt that person or another. This is a great example of a thing to talk about with your advisor, as each situation is different.
6. At the end of admitting your wrong, ask them if there is a way you can “make it right”. In the stories I’ve heard over the years, most people say “no, that’s okay”, “just dont do it again”, or “be well”. In the case of money owed, be prepared with the money to repay or give them the first installment on a payment plan you can handle no matter how small. Even if $20 a month consistently is all you can do, it is enough for the desired result of peace in your heart and mind.
7. Stick to it. Do not make an amends and commit to change behavior if you are not going to. To do so is to further injure that person and that is contrary to the point of amends.
8. If the recipient of the amends is still mad and doesn’t want to “accept” your amends that is entirely okay! It is not your business when they are ready to let go of these things and not your business to comment on it either. Just thank them. Afterall, it is you who you are really freeing with a true amends, so be humble and kind...be grateful. It is Thanksgiving after all! <3