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How to Make Amends When You Have Hurt Someone

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If you have hurt someone, you might be inclined to beat yourself up, agonize, and assume that the situation is irreparable. However, failure (like hurting someone) should not depress you. Instead, it’s an opportunity to transcend your past and come out stronger. (Obviously, you should always try not to hurt people — but in the inevitably human event that you do, there is potential for transformation.) When you have hurt someone and you need to make amends: recognize your weaknesses and failings, assume responsibility, and rectify your errors. The following are specific ways to do that.

Be Honest With Yourself

Do you blame the person you hurt and see yourself as the victim of the situation,  justifying your hurting another person? Consider that your personal narrative is subjective, and therefore possibly biased toward your own interests. Depending on your own subjective views can do more harm than good for yourself and others. Hurting someone is bad; but denying your culpability is even worse, because that closes the door to repair and healing.

What story are you telling yourself? Can you separate yourself from your personal narrative and see the situation from the other’s point of view — and even from a bird’s eye view? What is the bigger picture? Where did you fail in the situation? What should you have done differently?

Assume Responsibility

What does it mean to assume responsibility when you need to make amends? It means to act promptly: Do not wait. Immediately apologize to the person you hurt and find ways to correct the wrong done. Reaching out to person you hurt to repair the rift and create harmony cannot wait until you reach a state of “readiness”. You must go beyond your comfort zone. You may not be able to make amends perfectly, but it’s the effort that counts. Every effort bears fruit.

Rectify Your Errors

You, as all people, have been blessed with free will, and you always have the power to release the positive spark within yourself. Apologizing in words is not enough — you must act. When you refrain from doing more harm to others, you actively negate the harm you’ve done before. When you face a similar situation where you are tempted to hurt someone, you must summon all of your strength not to succumb to temptation. Furthermore: Rectifying an error means not just correction, but growth; using the opportunity to build an even stronger relationship.


Go deeper into this subject: What It Means to Be Honest With Yourself | Toward a Meaningful Life: Chapter 18 — Responsibility and Chapter 28: Good and Evil |

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