Of Apologies, Amends and General Taking Responsibility – Why They Work

apologiesApologies came up today in my writing forum. One writer told of an editor who not only was demanding in the changes she asked for, but was also willing to apologize when she made a mistake, The writer commented on how much easier that made it for her to accept the changes the editor wanted.

It’s absolutely true, when people are willing to admit their mistakes and say their sorry, it makes it so much easier to be with them and to build a solid relationship.

I wondered why apologies were so effective,  then remembered a perfectly awful customer support experience I had recently. It turned out there was only a single person there who could do what I wanted – an insane situation in my humble opinion. But the person who told me this and gave me his best guess about when and how to reach her also sincerely apologized that I was having trouble.

I felt heard and even appreciated

Although he couldn’t solve the problem I realized for the first time that day of being transferred hither thither and yon while listing to hold music I hated, I’d finally at least been heard. While he didn’t say he also thought the company was nuts for their approach (probably because we were being taped – who listens to all that stuff?), his tone of voice let me know he would be on my side if he could be.


I think it’s true that all sincere apologies signal that the person making the apology has indeed listened deeply. They don’t even have to agree for their apology to calm the situation.

Steps 9 and 10 and real life

Of course, apologies (aka making amends), are an important part of our 12 step recovery. After we’ve done the homework of Steps 1 – 8, we begin to make amends to the people we’ve harmed through our addictive behavior – that’s Step 9. It’s here that we also learn while some are willing and able to accept our apologies, others may be skeptical or even reject us out of hand. How they respond is really none of our business as long as we’ve made an honest effort.

Next, as our recovery continues we discover that just because we’re sober and clean, we haven’t solved all our problems. Because we’re human we make mistakes. Lots of them, just like everyone else does.

The difference for the person in recovery is that we get in the habit of examining our life often. We make note of those mistakes and apologizing for them as soon as possible. This is handled in Step 10.

No matter how we make our apologies or amends, they are important for us – much more so for us than the person we’re apologizing for. They do tend, however, to lighten our relationships with others as well.

We can make apologies to anyone

If we’ve made a mistake, lost our temper, caused a problem we can make apologies no matter who we’ve offended. I’ve apologized to perfect strangers and to my own family members, including my kids when they were living at home.

I found that monopolizing to my kids was more important than I first thought. They tell me now those apologies helped them let go of the idea of trying to be perfect much earlier than they might of. It’s food for thought.

Tell us how and when and why you make apologies in comments.

Love, blessings and abundance,

Anne W. Powerfully Recovered



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