Recently, I’ve been called out for some BIG mistakes I’ve made. Ouch! My boyfriend and I had a huge rupture last month (my mistake) and have been working to repair it ever since. Then, I had a beloved student call me out for incorrectly posting a testimonial without her express permission and with clear errors in it. Please see the end of this post for my retraction statement and my student’s corrected testimonial.
Psychological maturity is to allow the full spectrum of our human experience. We invite in and accept all the good, the bad and the ugly. We learn to move past black or white (all or nothing) thinking and “splitting”. Instead, we recognize that:
Being human means we are fallible.
Explicitly name and embrace your faults or mistakes
Practice self-inquiry and radical transparency (I recommend seeking the help of a trained therapist or coach) to understand the roots of our behavior
What are your “Shadow Qualities” or the unsavory parts of you that were acting out?
Move from judgment to understanding.
Commit to doing better next time
Now, it’s time to make amends with the person you harmed. You can’t change the past, but there is a lot you can change in the present. So,
Saying “I’m sorry.” means that you are apologizing for what you did, but an apology simply addresses the past. It can feel like an “easy out” and leave the person you hurt distrustful that it won’t happen again. Offering a sincere apology is only the first step.
Making amends is a crucial step in the Twelve Step recovery program. Although, I am not sober or an expert on recovery by any means…it’s useful to review. Step 8 is all about looking back to see where you were at fault. Step 9 is then about doing your best to rectify the problem.
Below are some key points to factor in when making amends.
Do not make amends if you genuinely do not see what you did wrong. Or, if you feel rushed, pressured or are just apologizing for the sake of doing so.
Refrain from making amends online, by text or phone call. Speaking face-to-face is important. Try to meet in person, if at all possible. I recommend pulling any conversation off of social media (if it started there) and jumping on a call or preferably video chat to clear things up. It’s too easy for things to get lost in translation.
If you can’t meet in person, always ask for a FaceTime or Zoom call to connect as intimately as possible. Show the person how seriously you take this. Come prepared, grounded, centered and humble.
Name exactly what you have done and how you hurt the other person. Remember: saying “I’m sorry” is not enough.
Specifically name your mistakes or faults. This will show that you are humble, have self-awareness and are taking 100% responsibility for your actions.
It may help to write down the details beforehand to clarify and come prepared. I recommend doing a meditation to imagine how the other person might feel or what their experience was. Put yourself in their shoes. How would a similar situation affect you? Be honest.
Being detailed in your conversation demonstrates you are invested, care and have thought about things beforehand.
Be empathetic and listen athletically – with your whole body, an open heart and open mind. Really let their words sink in.
Make direct eye contact. Stay open in your body language and nod your head as they explain their experience. Keep your breath deep and free. Stay grounded in your body (feel your feet on the floor).
Do not interrupt. Be patient and slow down your breath to self-regulate if you find yourself getting triggered, defensive or upset. Remember: this is their time to vent, explain and feel heard. They have a right to their feelings and inner experience.
Remember that amends is about changing future behavior, not just apologizing for the past.
Ask the person what you can do to right the situation and what they would need to have happen in order to make them feel better. Think reparations. This is a crucial step because we often don’t know what the other person needs for repair.
Show them that you’re willing to work towards rebuilding their trust again. If you are not willing to ask how you can right the wrong, you are not ready to truly make amends.
Remember, however, that just because you are trying to improve, doesn’t mean that the other person is ready to forgive and move forward.
Occasionally, the person may have an irrational or manipulative request that you cannot fulfill. If this happens, thank them for the opportunity to make amends and take 100% responsibility for your mistake. Then, tell them you cannot comply with the request but are sincerely remorseful for your actions.
The onus is on you to make amends. With that being said, all we can control is to clean up “our side of the street”.
Take the initiative and make a concerted, sincere effort by taking responsibility for your actions. If making amends does not unfold the way you hoped it would, let it go.
There is no “right” reaction to your making amends and we cannot control another person’s response. If the person you’ve just made amends with does not accept them, don’t let this take away from the purpose. You are committing to change, self-awareness and self-improvement.
Lastly, forgive yourself and work toward acceptance of your mistakes and the situation. Forgiveness invites us to embrace our full humanity. We are all flawed. Accept and become curious about your pain and embrace any pain you have caused (instead of resisting it) in order to relieve suffering.
We may not gain full closure or the grace we desire in a situation. In which case, our work is to allow things to be as they are, accept it and do better moving forward.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this program! It was beyond anything I could have anticipated. Definitely, worth the wait. It helped me to process unresolved grief that I was still carrying but most of all gave me a deeper understanding of myself and the tools to continue to go deeper within my own exploration which is priceless and so precious to me.
I just launched my Yoga for Cancer course and the hospitals now want to bring it in-house and license the curriculum. This business is just the beginning and growing in ways I never expected and I’m so excited!”
~ Jennifer Fremion, Cancer RN + Founder of Yoga for Cancer Training, Ft. Wayne, IN
And here are the mistakes I made:
Jen’s credential is a Registered Nurse in Oncology and not a “Cancer RN”.
I hope this example and these tools help you admit your errors more quickly, seek to sincerely make amends when you have made mistakes and repair ruptures in relationships. As my teacher Ram Dass says, “We are all just walking each other home.”