The power of an apology cannot be underestimated.
Uttering the words “I’m sorry” can change the course of a marriage or business partnership, de-escalate a conflict between warring nations, and reopen a broken heart.
When it comes to putting something behind us and resolving a transgression, however, a verbal apology gets us only half-way there. To heal, reconcile, be accountable, make up for something that’s been said or done to hurt someone and hopefully be forgiven, we have to go beyond words.
Redemption, be it healing an emotional pain, repairing a broken agreement, forgiving someone who bailed on you or getting to the other side of a betrayal, infidelity or a loss, requires a “Make-Up.”
Make-Ups are good-faith gestures that go beyond words. By taking purposeful action, doing something of significance, and making a sacrifice, we convey authentic remorse and a sincere desire to regain someone’s love, trust and/or confidence.
A Make-Up can be as simple as admitting a wrongdoing, paying off a debt, removing graffiti, or showing up for someone we let down. Or it can be as complicated as attempting to undo something we did or compensate for what we failed to do.
Dedicating ourselves to a noble cause, entering into alcohol or drug rehab, and working on reparations as outlined in AA’s 8th Step of “Making Amends,” staying sober, and getting help for a recurring mental health problem are prime examples of Make-Ups.
Together, an apology and a Make-Up can show just how committed we are to taking full responsibility for the hurt we caused. They are designed to help us find forgiveness, regain trust, restore integrity and make peace with those whom we’ve hurt.
Since we cannot turn back the hands of time to undo mistakes, missteps and improprieties, and time machines are only in the movies, we look to second chances. By opening the doors of truth and reconciliation, we can find ways to hopefully move on from the painful past and live forward as the better, stronger, and more courageous version of ourselves.
Have you ever apologized to, or done some kind of Make-Up, with someone you hurt? How did it go? What worked? What didn’t work? And what did you learn that has helped you?