Promptly Admitted It

Before we leave off the tenth month and the Tenth Step reflections, I was reminded by a group member of a very important point in Step Ten: “…and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it”. It’s not just a case of offering an apology and moving on. I must offer amends to the person that I have offended. The difference between the two isn’t so subtle.

The Apology:

An apology is a heartfelt ‘I’m sorry’ for what I did or failed to do. A true apology doesn’t make excuses or explain circumstances. Rather, it is an admission of my failure to act as I should have acted. For all its heartfelt emotion, an apology end there. There is a hope for forgiveness, but it is not necessary. I’ve done my part; it’s up to the other person if he wishes to accept the apology or not.

The Compensation:

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There are three elements to making amends. First, an amends should begin with a sincere apology. Secondly, it should also includes some form of compensation to make up for what was done. The repentant thief asks for forgiveness for what he stole and offers to pay back what he stole plus some extra compensation, perhaps interest earned or some agreed upon terms of recompense to make up for what was taken.  It might include repair or replacement of broken or damaged items. It is a demonstration of remorse for what was done.

Perhaps when it’s something physically tangible it´s easier to make amends: return the money, give back the car, pay for a new window. When it’s something intangible then it is more difficult to make amends. How do I make amends for taking away someone’s peace of mind, abandoning them, or ruining a relationship? Reparation for damages isn’t quite as cut and dried here. Some discussion might be necessary to resolve the terms and nature of the amends.

The Commitment to Change:

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A beautiful bouquet offered after a heated argument might be enough the first time, but if the pattern continues, the person making the amends might just get a facefull of flowers after the third or fourth time. That because part of amends also includes the idea that one’s behaviour has been amended or changed so that it won’t happen again in the future. A boss might be willing to accept the amends of an employee who abuses his expense account the first couple of times, but no matter how sincere or honest the apology is after the third screw up, it’s likely not going to be accepted because it’s obvious the behaviour hasn’t changed. So the third element in amends has to be a commitment to change, that I won’t do the same thing in the future. Amends involves a change in life patterns and behaviours. This is ‘living’ your amends.

I have times when I am more successful than others with making amends. I sometimes slip back into old patterns of thinking and acting. I try not to focus on these times as much as I look to the times when I’ve earned a checkmark in life. I recently read that it’s better to: ‘look to the gains, not the gaps’. If I focus on my program I am going to make some incredible wins. One way of doing that is by getting over the screw-ups as quickly as possible: apologise, compensate and change are the three elements of this amends. Making amends is an incredible life win; I have done what is under my control to make up for the offence. And I can move on with my day, celebrating my gains and living my recovery.

 

Become the Exception

My next birthday I will turn 60. Hard to believe that I came into this world so long ago, though apparently, I didn’t want to: I was a breech birth (sorry Mom). Soon I’ll be eligible to collect a pension and receive all sorts of discounts.  So I am supposed to be winding down my life and live comfortably in retirement. Only, that’s not what I want to do.  I want to be one of the ‘exceptions’ that comes into my own as I enter my golden years.  Fair warning, I am not planning on slowly fading out of this life by preparing for the next!

I have been doing a lot of reassessment of my life and where I want it to go.  What do I like? What do I see myself doing? Where do I see myself doing it? The type of questions that I answered back 40 years ago when it was suggested that I would make a great teacher (I spent many years involved one way or another with education) or mortician (oh yeah…like that was really going to happen!) I just want to know where I want to go in the next chapter of my life.

I have never been known to follow the regular path. I have been an exception to the rule.  As a teen, I complained that my younger brother didn’t have as many responsibilities as I did when I was his age. My father would look down at me and tell me it was because I was an ‘exceptional child’.  I really didn’t appreciate his response then, but I guess I was. Throughout life I gravitated to various positions, not really having a full-time career since I left teaching elementary school at 28. Lots of contract work, freelance, seasonal business and now settled in the south as a landlord and B&B owner in a country where I had to learn a new language and culture.

What I have been discovering in the past few weeks of investigation is that I can choose to be an exception to the rule. I can forge ahead and create new pathways for myself rather than follow well trod path of others of retirement age. Recovery had taught me that if I want to fulfill my dreams, then I had better work for them and not expect them to arrive at my door. I have some longevity in the family and I don’t want to spend the next 30 to 40 years twiddling my thumbs waiting for the grim reaper. I want to be the exception.

I am working on the next phase. I am working on my writing. I will continue to question and seek new answers because that’s what an exception does. I want to be the guy that the devil worries about when I awaken in the morning and I want to die sliding into home plate in a well used body. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen if I’m sitting in a rocking chair watching Netflix all day long.

There are exceptions to every rule in life. Some kids make it out of the ghetto. Some horses with lousy odds win the race. Some ‘seniors’ begin a new career late in life.

Dare to try. Change beliefs. Step out of the comfort zone. Be the exception because, as far as I know, this is the only life we get; I intend to really live it.

Where will your road take you?

Keep on Trudging

One of the primary reasons people stay in even life-threatening addictions is because they know the outcomes of their behavior. The human brain really likes being able to predict the future. Thus, people want their lives to be predictable even if what is predictable is absolutely painful and horrible and regretful.  Benjamin Hardy

As the saying goes, ‘better the hell you know than the hell you don’t’.

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is difficult. It means change and change is always emotional. Somewhere along the line most of us developed a resistance to change. Trying something different removes the predictability in our lives and introduces the unknown and with the unknown comes the catastrophe mentality that it will turn out bad: it’s going to be a disaster we think. And we expect the worst possible outcome.

Taking that first step requires us to overcome fears: fear of the unknown, fear of what others might say about us, fear about the outcome, fear about our own abilities are a few of those fears. But the alternative to taking that next step? It’s staying where we are: if nothing changes, nothing changed. However, once you’ve done it, once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, you’ve expanded that very zone and made it part of your experience upon which you can draw strength. Now you can say to yourself, ‘I’ve gone skydiving,’ or ‘I’ve written a book’. You know what it’s about and that experience brings some stability back into your life.

Adventures only happen to the adventurous.  Benjamin Hardy

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Staying in one spot might be fine if you’re a rock. At least you give the moss a spot to grow. But that’s not the path of people. We are meant to move, to grow and to inspire and we can’t do that if we are stuck in one place. We must move forward, take that step into the unknown, face our uncertainties and fears. It’s all part of the adventure of life. Tryinsomething new and taking risks

There’s a saying that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Another way of saying it is that we will survive everything until we don’t. And guess what? You have survived everyone of the catastrophes in your life so far because they weren’t catastrophes, only unfounded fears. I like to say that it’s not the end of the world until it’s the end of the world. It’s not just surviving, it’s growing and thriving. If I look at life as an adventure then I have adventure. I just can’t stay where I am and expect to change. I can’t be like the water in a stagnant pond, I have to flow and move in order to stay fresh and renew myself.

I want to grow. I want to expand. I want to learn.