STEP EIGHT CONTINUED Seek forgiveness from those we hurt unless doing so would cause further harm.
Instruction: Don’t make things worse.
Sometimes a simple apology is the best. Rehashing an event in which your behavior was hurtful can bring old wounds to the surface, and, if not handled carefully, can create new wounds. Sometimes when I have a disagreement with my wife, I’ve learned not to try to fix things in the moment of the battle, because we are both too upset and irrational to see things as they really are. We have made minor issues important, and we are not able to focus on the real problem, which might not have anything to do with the argument we are having. It is better to wait until things calm down, and I can listen reasonably and dispassionately. Not everyone solves their problems in the same way, but, ultimately, we must decide what is important and what is not. Often, a simple, “I’m sorry. I overacted,” is sufficient to mend things, at least temporarily, and sometimes it is all that is ever needed.
A large part of the wisdom of Step Eight is to not cause further harm. When our apologies tend to restart the argument, we might want to rethink the timing of the apology, the wording of the apology, or even the necessity of using words. Actions often say what our words cannot. This could be in the form of a gift that says “I’m sorry,” but the actions that speak the loudest are the ones that show our remorse by not repeating the undesired behavior and by replacing the undesired behavior with behavior that is wanted and needed. If my wife feels hurt because I don’t pay her enough attention or spend enough time with her, then a simple apology followed by spending more time and paying more attention works best. Defending our behavior rarely gets to the heart of the matter.
Today’s task is to consider the ways in which you argue, make amends, and work towards preventing further harm or damage. Can you stop an argument before getting overly emotional about your position? Can you address the issues at a later time without causing further harm? Can you resolve an issue without going on the attack? Can you apologize in ways that are nonverbal?
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