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Now's the Time to Say You're Sorry

Why you should seize the opportunity to make amends — and how to get started

Man in his 50's elbow against window, thinking

— Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/cultura/Corbis

• We need to consider legacy. In midlife, we begin thinking about the values and memories we want to bequeath our children and grandchildren. By breaking the cycle of anger and recrimination that divides too many families and communities, you can give your children and grandchildren the gift of their own fresh start.

But how do you begin? The first step is to think carefully about your regrets — what they are, why you feel badly about them, what you could have done differently.

I started by compiling a list of the people I had wronged in various ways — for instance, the college buddy from whom I had borrowed $600 that I never paid back. In each case I asked myself what had led me to hurt or offend the other person. I tried as best as I could to put myself in the other people's shoes: How had I made them feel? What could I do to take the sting out of their hurt and make our relationship whole again?

I figured out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to approach each person. For some, it made sense to get right to the crux of the matter. For others, it seemed better just to spend time together.

And then it was time for the biggest, sometimes scariest step — the one that matters most: I would reach out to the person, by phone, e-mail or letter, with a sincere and open heart and with the humility that comes with a lifetime of ups and downs.

 

 

Trust me: This is one step you will never regret.


Lee Kravitz is a journalist who was editor-in-chief of the Sunday newspaper magazine Parade and a former editorial director at Scholastic, Inc. You can find out more about his year-long journey to make amends on his website.

 

 

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