Can I truly make amends if I don't truly mean it?

Let's talk for a second about step 9 of 12 - Making amends. Making amends to those we have hurt is one of the core components of a 12 step program. Do I believe making amends is a bad thing? absolutely not, but one must ask oneself if a manufactured, structured, sponsor-guided  "apology" is the right way to do it? "Making amends can be regarded as a selfish process, and reaching out to some people may do more harm than good; for this reason, not all amends are made. The addict’s sponsor will generally help him or her makes those decisions" (www.12step.org). Do we really want this delicate, personal process to be left in the hands of a sponsor? does that mean they decide when and how I say that I am sorry? 

I hear all too often that step 9 leaves a bitter aftertaste. "Of course I feel bad for the past,  but she wasn't ready to hear what I had to say, and honestly I don't think I was ready to say it". Don't worry!  This is normal, this is human, this is a process and we cannot be expected to rush it. Arguably, a significant portion of a "genuine" apology pivots on one's ability to empathize, to truly understand why our actions caused another's pain. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience identified a specific part of the brain called the right supramarginal gyrus which recognizes a lack of empathy and autocorrects. This study concluded that in the event of making a quick decision, the supramarginal gyrus does not function optimally, significantly reducing one's ability to empathize. Insight Health and Wellness do not adopt such a structured approach. We believe in the importance of sincerity, the importance of real human relationships, the importance of authenticity. 

 

Apologize from the heart, don't worry about the step. It's right when it's right.

Nicola Vincent, MSW. 

Insight Health & Wellness 

www.insighthealthandwellness.net

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