“Even our severest and most justified critics will frequently meet us more than halfway on the first trial.”
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step 9
The shame and fear voices in my head which keep me from making amends are false voices. These ‘voices’ (really just my own voice of course, but they ‘talk’ to me as if they were separate from me) which tell me that I shouldn’t apologize to such-and-such a person because I really hurt them and they won’t want to talk to me, or they’ll yell at me, or whatever. These are just excuses, voices of fear and shame, and they are not real. What can another person really do to me in the process of making amends?
Let’s say for example (and this is a purely hypothetical example) I made amends to a former boss and acknowledged the fact that I used company time and resources to access pornography on the Internet. Let’s then say that boss somehow contacted my current boss and I was fired. Clearly that turn of events would be devastating; I’m not denying that. But at the end of the day that is the worst my old boss could do; and as devastating as that would be it is external to me. In other words, he has not done anything to me, only to my environment.
Now, the good news: The people I make amends to are probably not going to react in the worst possible way. It is much more likely they will ‘meet me halfway’ in my amends. There are any number of reasons for this…Other people are not as selfish as I am and their reactions are different from what I might expect. It’s possible that people will be so shocked at my attempts to make amends because it is so contrary to my own past behavior that they will be motivated to respond generously. Or perhaps they will be reminded of their own part in any trouble in our relationship and by owning my sin they will be motivated to own their sin as well. Whatever the reason, I am hopeful that those people I am most fearful of approaching will, in the end, be much more receptive to my amends than I expect.
Is there someone in your life you need to make amends to, but you have put it off because you are afraid of their ‘expected’ reaction?