Why make amends? If you are sorry and apologize, then why not leave it at that? Should you feel an obligation to make amends?
Before attempting to answer the above questions, let’s establish what is meant by amends. According to Dictionary.com, amends means: “reparation or compensation for a loss, damage, or injury of any kind; recompense.” If you cause a loss, damage, or injury of any kind AND you believe amends are important, then you should recompense.
Do you believe amends are important? Are amends something you value? Ah, so many questions and so few answers! I think, primarily, these are questions you should ask yourself when you have caused a loss, damage, or injury of any kind.
Ok, so if you accept that making amends are important, then what should you do? I think first and foremost, you should responsibly accept that you made the “mistake,” genuinely apologize for it, AND then make the “mistake” right by doing everything you possibly can to reverse effects. To help remember these important parts of making amends, let’s form an acronym from: Responsibly Accept, Genuinely Apologize, and Reverse Effects – RAGARE! Now we have a new word, RAGARE, which gives us direction for how to make amends.
Let’s see if RAGARE makes sense in a specific example. Suppose you were directly or indirectly responsible for the burglary of someone’s home. Using RA of RAGARE, you would accept full responsibility for your part without blaming anyone else. Using the GA, you apologize in a forthright manner and with explanation, doing all you possibly can to reassure the victim(s) that you won’t do it again. And the RE part directs you toward reversing the effect(s) of the burglary. That might mean you would have to pay for all damages and replace all that was stolen. RAGARE implies that you use empathy, in all of your thinking, toward making amends. In other words, it’s not about your ego, it’s about helping others reverse your negative actions.
How will you know that you have made amends? After having done the best you can to make amends, considering the process of RAGARE as previously explained, I think it is important to assess whether or not you were successful. How? Use good intellectual standards of fairness, clarity, relevancy, etc. to assess your effort towards making amends. After that, you should work toward re-establishing trust by offering to help anyway you can. Use humility in your approach and use all of your senses to carefully assess her/his reactions. Prove, anyway you can, that you have learned a lesson and then, after you are sure you have made amends to her/his satisfaction, move on.
Finally, let’s be clear – making amends is not the same as confessing, apologizing, blaming others, crying on their shoulders, beating yourself up, etc… – To make amends you must recompense. You must make up or compensate for the lost. Remember, a sincere confession will make you feel better, but to make amends means you must make the damaged party feel compensated for the lost. As you make amends, it’s important that you demonstrate consistently and over an extended period of time, that you are a reliable, kind, trustworthy, responsible and supportive person who has set aside your ego while focusing on recompense.
Why make amends?
<To atone for the damage you are responsible for.
<To set your mind free to move on with respect.
<To free yourself of guilt.
<To get rid of grudges.
<To allow the word “civil” to have meaning in your civilization!
Why should you make amends? Because, it’s the right thing to do!