(Continued from Making amends: The other side of forgiveness – Part 4 of 6)
Giving your apology is a gift that you’re offering without expecting anything in return. However, you do need to be sensitive to what the other is feeling.
You may have the desire to make amends but if the other person is not ready or is not in a position to accept your gift, be sensitive and respectful. Do not insist. Imposing makes you selfish and uncaring of the person you offended. This may even add more damage rather than repair it.
Remember, the intention of making amends is not just to take away the guilt that you’re feeling for having offended someone.
You make amends because you want to make up for what you did. Your intention is to help alleviate the pain felt by the person as a result of your action, words or behavior.
Sure, you cannot undo what you did. You cannot erase it from their or your memory. You also have no control over what others feel.
But you can, to the best of your ability and the purest of your intention, show how sorry you are. You can show that you realized what you did wrong. Or you can show that you understand why they’re hurting and in pain. You can make the other person feel that if you were in their shoes, you most likely would also feel offended, hurt, and angry.
Empathy is key. Developing empathy is an essential step in order for you to succeed at your efforts of making amends.
Unlike with the act of forgiveness which you do for you when you’re the one offended, and not for the offender, making amends takes into consideration both the offended and the offender.
You don’t make amends for yourself alone. In fact you do it more for the person you offended than for yourself. Yes, you do it also for yourself but you don’t do it for yourself only.
If you make amends only to serve yourself, that is not a genuine and true act of restoring peace and harmony. A sincere act of making amends is practicing nonviolence.
What to do if the person you offended refuses to accept your apology or your efforts to make amends
You can still apologize and it is still possible to make amends indirectly. You can write them a letter and express your feelings and realizations.
Perhaps later, when the person is ready, they can read your letter again and be able to truly pardon you. The negative energies that bind you are then transmuted and you are both free from the bondage of unforgiveness.
Whether or not the person accepts your apology or efforts to make amends, immediately or later, you still go through the process of apologizing and making amends indirectly — in order for you to forgive yourself.
This can also apply to those who have already passed on. There is no stopping you, no time or distance, from apologizing, asking for and extending forgiveness.
And in order for the experience to truly serve its purpose of making you grow, after making amends, your next more important step is to find ways to make sure that you don’t commit the same mistake.
If it is a pattern in your behavior, you need to correct your behavior and make sure that it is not repeated. So that you don’t offend anyone else in the future. Depending on the cause of your behavior, you may need to go for professional counseling and seek therapy to help you in your behavioral change.
Today: As I interact with people today, I will reflect on whether there are ways I feel moved to make amends.
To be continued
64 Ways in 64 Days Nonviolence Daily Reflections Day 30 – Feb. 28, 2012
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