Addiction often causes people to do things they later regret. These regrets may range from fairly minor things, like forgetting to pick your kid up from school because you were drinking, to much more serious regrets like driving while drunk or high, stealing money or attacking someone. Wanting to repair relationships with family and friends is one of the most common reasons people finally decide to seek treatment for addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Once you’re sober and the fog clears, you might find that you have quite a few apologies to make. Here are some tips to address them the right way.
We’ve all been forced as children to apologize for things we definitely weren’t sorry for. Unfortunately, this has taught many of us that an apology is just an empty formality. However, a true apology means much more than that. An apology should be based on the genuine insight that something you did caused someone else to suffer and that you regret it. If you don’t feel sincere remorse, maybe save the apology for later.
Admit Your Mistake and Its Effects
Admit your mistakes and express your honest remorse to the person you hurt. It’s important to show that you understand where you went wrong, as well as how and why your actions caused pain. This may take a little thought and empathy on your part. Considering what it would have been like had the roles been reversed is a good starting point. Simply saying “I’m sorry” without seeking this insight doesn’t hold the same weight. Additionally, lacking a deep understanding of your mistake increases the likeliness of making it again in the future.
Don’t Ruin It With an Explanation
Following an apology with an explanation that justifies a certain behavior is tempting. Obviously, there were reasons you behaved the way you did, possibly even defensible reasons, but that’s not what an apology is about. A true apology is about taking responsibility for the fact that your actions hurt someone else, expressing remorse and demonstrating a willingness to behave differently in the future. Avoiding the tempting “I’m sorry, but…” is difficult, however, it teaches us to own our mistakes, empowering growth in recovery.
12 step programs have recognized the importance of making amends from the beginning. An apology is a good start but it’s also just words. Making amends is a way of taking active responsibility for your wrongdoings. If you borrowed money from someone, pay it back. If you crashed someone’s car, pay for the damages. If you behaved selfishly, commit to service work. Making the decision to be accountable to the actions of your past shows how committed you are to your recovery and a new way of living. The process of making amends isn’t easy and is often uncomfortable. Typically, the willingness to commit to it, despite the discomfort, decreases the likelihood of you making the same mistakes again.
Looking for Help?
A strong recover comes from living a life of connection and meaning, which means taking responsibility for how your behavior affects others. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, we help men find connection and purpose through our unique addiction treatment program. Call us today, at 855-202-2138, to learn more.