When to make amends and when to let go

The thing about life is there will always be ups and downs, otherwise it will be a fairytale. It is

The thing about life is there will always be ups and downs, otherwise it will be a fairytale.

It is easy to get stuck with bad memories and like an emotional quicksand it can have a strong downward pull on your psyche.

The past can really haunt us, obsessively replaying old losses, past injustices, or guilts about arguments you had or broken relationships.

It could be a divorce that’s more than a decade old, a friend or partner who belittled you, or even frustration with yourself because you fell for someone else’s lies.

Lauren who was shun from a group of good friends said, “I don’t know why my friends decided to leave me out of all their parties and dinners and important life events. I had a small misunderstanding with one of them but I don’t think that is the cause. I’ve been absolutely depressed about being left out like this.”

Gery had an abusive relationship and it’s been haunting her for a long time, “Every time I stand by the sink to wash dishes, the terrible memories keep playing back in my mind and I can’t make it stop.”

You’ll always have the strong urge to right wrongs, to avenge yourself or a cause but it maybe worth to identify if you should make amends or let go.

If it’s a long lost person or someone who you’ve tried to patch things up with but didn’t success, it may be time to bury the hatchet.

However, if it involves family or if you were the aggressor, the best thing might be to make amends – you’ll never know how your action can really make a difference.

According to Psychology Today, you can try these strategies if you want to make amends and/or let go.


Anchor yourself with the future

It’s hard to let go of the past if you don’t have a positive view of tomorrow. You need a vision of the future which will supply the energy and the will to push you beyond the past. Creating it requires deliberate mental focus. Why not take an online class or hire a trainer and keep detailed records of your body’s improvements? Grow a new garden or start a new project like a reno or even a charity event. Giving yourself a goal to work toward will help to get yourself out of the quicksand of yesterday.


Getting yourself out of the past starts with discarding and ruthless discarding is necessary especially if you are starting a new relationship or starting a new life. Nobody needs two brown couches, if it links you to a bad memory, get rid of it. Or, more commonly, discard when you are downsizing. If you are sinking under past acquisitions — discard oversized mortgages, messy basements, stuffed closets, or anything that you don’t need by donating, selling, or simply trashing.

Making amends generally involves reaching out to someone, face to face or in writing, and expressing your remorse if you did something to hurt someone. Write a statement of remorse which includes three essential pieces — a clear articulation of the harm you feel you did (“When we were little, I teased you so meanly”); a chance for the other person to express his or her point of view, old fury, or past pain, which will be uncomfortable to hear but requires validation from you (“I can see that I let you down… treated you terribly… was unfair. You have every right to be angry”); and an authentic expression of remorse, from the heart ( “I want you to know that I understand how I hurt you, and I’m so very sorry”).

The repair steps may or may not restore the relationship and many other factors will determine that outcome. But it is a way to put that part of the past that has been plaguing you firmly behind you as well as creating a closure for the person you let down.


Is it really possible to be deeply hurt, unjustly treated, grievously wronged, and forgive the perpetrator? It is the most profound way to free yourself from the emotional intrusions of the past. It helps to understand what parts of yourself you are up against. When we are deeply wronged, there are powerful rewards to staying angry. Rage is like a giant billboard advertising the evils of our assailant. Forgiveness, on the other hand, can feel as if you are letting the bad guy off, endorsing him even. That feels intolerable. Too, anger can be very motivating; it gives us courage to confront the unfair boss, energy to get through the painful trial.

That’s a lot to give up, for the sake of forgiveness. You will have to come to believe that there is more to be gained by forgiving than by staying angry. Usually, and eventually, there is. When there is no longer a constructive action step to be taken that requires your anger as its fuel, the cost to you of the rage you are carrying exceeds the rewards of punishing the offender. At that moment, forgiveness is possible.

Forgiveness is a decision, not a capitulation. It says, “You wronged me. I didn’t deserve it. I’ve been angry long enough. I am laying down my anger because I don’t need to carry it anymore.” Record your decision to forgive, or tell a significant person in your life so you remember that you’ve made that decision.

Stay in the present

Nothing—not one single technique or inner evolution—is as powerful an antidote to the past as the capacity to be present in the here and now. Unfortunately, our natural capacity for that focus is severely limited by those great emotional magnets of past and future — fear, love, rage, anxiety, shame, regret, fantasy.

The ability to focus on the present is critical and you can do that with mindfulness, a practice in which you note in a nonjudgmental way the thoughts and sensations occurring at this very moment. Why not give that a try?

Are you plagued by an old memory?