February 20 – Amends

To make amends is to compensate for our wrongdoing. It goes hand in hand with forgiveness and the ability to admit our mistakes. To amend our wrongs to others is important, but we also must amend our relationship with ourselves in the case where we have been neglecting ourselves for so long.

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On the topic of amends, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

Looking back and regretting are very different from taking stock, making amends, and moving on. When we look back and regret, we are indulging in the self-centered activity of beating ourselves over the mistakes in our past.

All of us have made mistakes. When we have operated out of the craziness of this addictive disease process, we have done much harm to ourselves and others. We have neglected ourselves. We have neglected those we love. That is the nature of an addiction. Now we can admit our wrongs, make amends to those we have wronged (including amends to ourselves when we have not been caring for ourselves) and move on.

We cannot build on shame, guilt, or regret. We, indeed, can only wallow in them.”

Often perfectionists beat themselves up over their mistakes and wrongdoings. To err is human, and humans are not perfect, therefore to err is to be imperfect. The perfectionist and workaholic cannot bear to live with this imperfection, so they flagellate themselves for their mistakes, thinking that if they are hard enough on themselves maybe they won’t make the same mistake again. It is forgiveness and loving kindness, though, that are the better teacher. Anne makes a wonderful point that shame, guilt, and regret are all deep pits that drag us down; we can only wallow in them, for there is no solid strength in any of these feelings. To examine our actions from the lens of truth, to find it in our hearts to admit our wrongs and forgive ourselves, and then to seek forgiveness from others by doing right by them—that takes strength of will that is so solidly firm, it forms the ideal foundation for growth on which we can build.  As Oasis says, “Don’t look back in anger…” Instead, look forward to the future and doing right by yourself and others from this moment on. We cannot alter our pasts, but we have the power to change our futures always.

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