The best way to illustrate the practical difference between making amends vs I’m sorry is by using what we’ll call the restaurant analogy. Let’s imagine that you are visiting a fancy restaurant. You order a big, juicy, rare steak – and you’ve been looking forward to this steak for months by the time you get a chance to sit down at the restaurant for a booking.

When it’s time for your steak to arrive, the waiter brings the plate to your table. You wait in anticipation for them to lift the dome – and he does. But instead of the big, juicy, rare steak that you ordered, a small and dry chicken breast is staring up at you from the plate.

Making Amends versus Saying I’m Sorry: The Crucial Recovery Difference

Now, most people wouldn’t be happy with this. For the purpose of this example, let’s imagine that you tell the waiter that you aren’t happy with the order.

There are two possible scenarios that can happen from here.

Outcome #1:

The first outcome is that the waiter takes the chicken breast away from you and then calls the chef to the table. The chef looks at you and says, “There was a mix-up in the kitchen and I’m very sorry about    this.” Then, the chef walks away from the table. You sit there without a steak or the chicken breast, but at least the chef and the waiter said they’re sorry, right?

Outcome #2:

The second outcome is that the waiter walks over to your table and takes the chicken

breast away immediately. Just like the first option, he calls the chef to your table – and the chef still offers you an apology for the mix-up. But instead of leaving things at only an apology, he says that he’ll be right back to your table. When he returns to your table, he brings you the steak to the table.

The first outcome describes what happens when someone apologizes, and the second outcome describes what will happen instead when someone makes amends.

Saying You’re Sorry is Only the First Step

 The first option in the above example illustrates why saying you’re sorry is only the first step in a series of events: The majority of drug and alcohol recovery programs will specify that apologizing and atoning are some of the most essential parts of making a full recovery, but it’s a true fact that a lot of recovering addicts will mistake atonement for apology and end up setting their own recovery process back much more than they might realize.

Making Amends Means Something Different

 Actions speak louder than words. It’s been a popular expression for decades, and it’s not hard to see why – it’s certainly true when it comes to recovering from an addiction. Saying you’re sorry takes a few words at most, and let’s face it, in most cases it doesn’t take a lot of effort to say it: But showing that you’ve changed and righting your wrongs takes a little bit more work – and action – but tends to work out for the best.


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