Heads Up: It's NOT An Apology If An Amends Isn't Made

When an amends comes with the apology, it hits different.

Love & Relationships

If there is one thing that being a marriage life coach has taught me, it's how much forgiveness plays a direct role in the longevity of any real relationship. Because we're all flawed human beings, there are going to be times when we will need to ask for and extend forgiveness. That's just the way it is. However, I think the reason why a lot of us struggle so much with forgiving others is because, well, a lot of people totally suck at apologizing. That's what we're going to dive into today.

When it comes to offering a full and sincere apology, there is one thing that absolutely must happen that doesn't transpire often enough — there has to be some sort of amends that is made. While I will get deeper into this in a sec, what that basically means is someone must first acknowledge what they did (apology) and then put forth an action to set things right (amends). Otherwise, the apology is pretty much just lip service — and that doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot at the end of the day (many of us can certainly vouch for that).

Before getting into all of this, let me just put on record that I'm not talking about something minor like a person showing up late for a luncheon or a surface-level issue like that. What we're about to tackle is what an apology should look like when someone has hit deep — the role they should play in the healing process, along with the actions that you should take too. So, take a deep breath. Let's help with some of the healing process that comes with the issue of forgiving, shall we?

1. An Apology That Comes with Excuses, Deflecting or Placing Blame Isn’t a Real One


Something that I grew up seeing a lot of is people who absolutely sucked at apologizing. If they did it at all, they found some way to place the blame on other people or circumstances (including Satan; so Christians absolutely live to make Satan the scapegoat of their own choices). Or, if they did do it, what was the point? They would turn around and do the same act, if not months later, days later. Before long, apologizing seemed like an endless version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf and I simply became numb to it (ugh).

There is a silver lining to all of that toxicity, though. Since I watched so many individuals apologize the absolute wrong way and it triggered me on the regular, it taught me to be far more intentional about my own apologies. For starters, I personally do it when I know I mean it rather than as a way to flippantly gloss over things. Two, I do it when I can take full accountability for my actions instead of offering up that piss poor "I'm sorry but if you hadn't have…" crap that a lot of people do. And three, I do it when I am prepared to make an amends for my actions (more on that in a bit).

What I don't do is find a way to excuse, deflect or blame someone or something else for my actions. People who do that? They are skirting responsibility — which is a surefire way for them to repeat the "offense" again. Which is why, at the end of the day, they actually can totally keep their apology to themselves.

2. Anyone Who Says, “I’m Not Apologizing Anymore” Is Kinda Full of It


Let me tell you a clear sign that you are putting yourself in harm's way to be hurt or harmed by someone who has already hurt or harmed you. If in their so-called apology, they say something along the lines of, "Look, I've already apologized for that" or "I'm not gonna keep apologizing. You need to get over it" — that is a red flag like nobody's business. When you really stop to process the fact that someone who offended you is trying to convey that you are inconveniencing them for the fallout that transpired as a direct result? What in the world is going on?

Now, in no way am I saying that someone should make another person feel like they need to grovel in order for an apology to be accepted. Indeed, there is a responsibility for the person on the receiving end to extend some mercy and grace (especially since all of us fail from time to time and need to be forgiven our damn selves). What I am saying is that when someone has hurt or harmed someone and they nonchalantly — or arrogantly, depending on the delivery — try and come on some, "You just need to move on" energy…nothing about that is cloaked in humility, kindness or sincerity. Someone who is truly sorry for something they've said or done is going to convey it in their words, energy and tone. And they are going to do their best to make sure that the apology is both heard and felt.

3. The Apology Needs to Address the “Crime”


I come from a music industry household. When I was a preteen/teenager, my mother was on the road, quite a bit, because she was in artist management. Anyway, indirectly, her profession caused me to not have a 16th or 18th birthday party. Well, kinda. It wasn't because my parties weren't planned. It was because she canceled them, literally at the last minute, because she didn't come back in town in time. Although she provided no real explanation at the time, years up the road, she told me that she had missed her flights on purpose because she was overwhelmed and wanted some time to herself to regroup. OK, while now, as a woman in my 40s, I can somewhat understand that, there is a part of me that is still tender when it comes to that topic because 1) you canceled two parties, again, at the last minute which means your first apology for canceling the first one really didn't mean much and 2) you didn't really do anything to right the wrong. At all. Ever.

And y'all, I believe that this is a part of the reason why a lot of us are either rolling our eyes when someone apologizes to us or we can't fully move forward after they do. It's because, oftentimes, the person who wronged us seems to think that so long as they throw an "I'm apologize", "I'm sorry" or "My bad" our way, that should be enough. It isn't. When someone wrongs us, if they truly get the magnitude of what transpired, they should also find a way to make things right, as best as they can. If you screwed over two of my milestone birthdays, how about throwing another one to make up for it? Doesn't that show that you get the weight of what you did? Twice?

And here's the thing. When an amends isn't made, there tends to be a wound that never fully heals because while the person who offended us says two words and goes on, we are still holding onto some of the pain because they didn't put much effort in to make sure that we're good.

That's why I'm huge on conveying the point that if someone really wants us to know that they get what they did wrong, they will also want to do whatever they can (within reason, of course) to set things right. After all, an amends is defined as being "reparation or compensation for a loss, damage, or injury of any kind; recompense". Another definition of the word is to "improve" something. If someone can put in the energy to cause harm, they can use that same energy to heal the trauma that they left behind. People who get this are individuals who really understand what an apology entails. It's recognizing what happened and then doing what they can to help with the healing process.

An apology is not an apology without an amends. It really isn't.

4. An Apology Means “I’m Going to Be Intentional About Not Doing ‘It’ Again"


One day, while in my prayer time, as I was ranting to God about someone who just kept on hurting me while I kept on taking it, the story in the Bible about Christ telling us to forgive "seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-35) came to mind. Hmph. Isn't it interesting that oftentimes, when it comes to forgiveness, far more of a burden is placed on the victim than the actual victimizer? Yeah, folks will be quick to run this Scripture up when it comes to holding the one who was hurt spiritually accountable while expecting very little from the one who caused the damage in the first place. Some might call that spiritual manipulation. (Hmm.)

Yet what was revealed to me about these verses had a twist to it. "Shellie, if you've got to forgive someone 490 times for the same thing, somebody isn't learning the lesson." That's what I heard in my spirit and instantly, I got it. Some folks will manipulate forgiveness and say that if you truly forgive someone, you will continue to allow them to dwell in your life like nothing every happened. Nooooo. Sometimes, what needs to happen is you forgive and then you set boundaries — not walls, boundaries. Meanwhile, the one who caused the pain needs to go out of their way to not repeat the offense. If they do continue to cause harm in the same area(s), then there should be more boundaries set because what they are basically conveying is they aren't strong in that area; that they need more accountability.

You know, a lot of us who've been hurt/harmed, we weaponize forgiveness, not because of what someone did one time; it's because of what they keep doing. This is why I'm a huge believer that those who are really repentant, they will 1) give a clear apology that includes stating what they did wrong (to prove that they understand what they are apologizing for) and 2) make sure that it's conveyed that they have no intention on repeating the same offense. And then they will seek within to figure out, just how to make that happen.

5. The Offender Doesn’t Decide When You’re Healed. YOU DO.


I'm not sure what's much worse than an arrogant apologizer. Lawd. Like how did you come into my life, blow my entire world up (or break my heart) and then have the unmitigated gall to tell me when the wound — the one that you caused, by the way — should go from a scab to a scar. No sir.

This is another example of when spiritual manipulation can come into play. The offender might say something to you like, "Well, if you truly forgave me, you would act like it never happened." Nooooo. If I truly forgave you, I wouldn't keep repeating the offense, I wouldn't hold it over your head and I would be open to us working together to heal. However, whatever time I need in order to heal, as the offender, you should be more than willing to grant me that.

There is someone in my family who has wreaked so much havoc that you don't have the time and I don't have the energy to share it all. Whenever they get confronted on their dysfunctional BS, one of the first things they will call up is their childhood trauma. Oh, but when someone calls them to the carpet on the trauma they've caused, they wanna talk about how the person should have healed from that by now.

Woundedness doesn't have a timetable. That's why we have to be oh so very careful about the things that we say and do to other people. That said, someone who is truly sorry for their actions ("sorry" is not a bad or low-self esteem-based word, by the way; it simply means "feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, pity, etc."), they are going to get that while their actions may have happened in an instant, the pain that it caused could take quite some time to heal. And because they understand that, they will not pressure, guilt, gaslight, manipulate or scare someone into acting like they are healed — when they aren't. Yet.

6. If You Want to Heal, You’ve Gotta Quit Rehearsing the Past


OK, now that we've addressed the offender at length, it really does have to go on record that the one who was offended also has some self-worth to do. For one thing, it's important to always keep in mind that forgiving others is a good idea because none of us are perfect and one day, we too will need to be forgiven; probably sooner than later. Next point, refusing to forgive others very rarely does the amount of damage to the other person that it does to us. Mostly because our lack of forgiving typically causes our hearts to harden on some level which can ultimately cause us to take our disappointment/resentment/fear/bitterness out on other people — people who have absolutely nothing to do with what someone did to us.

And three, when we don't forgive, oftentimes we continue to replay what happened to us, over and over, even if it's only in our minds, and that can keep us mentally/emotionally/spiritually/relationally stagnant on some level. So yeah, when it comes to trying to decide whether to forgive or not forgive, forgiveness is always the route to take.

At the same time, what happens past saying, "I forgive you for what you've done and I choose to no longer hold it over you or allow it to consume me" — well, that has layers to it as well. The reason why I say that is because while forgiveness can hopefully bring forth some level of peace, in order for a harmed or broken relationship to be restored, there has to be effort put in on both parts. I've already explained a lot of what the offender's responsibility is. As far as the "offendee", you've first got to decide if you want to maintain a relationship with the person who hurt you. If so, why? If not, why not? Then, you've got to get clear on if "stepping out on faith" in order to bring trust back into the dynamic is ultimately worth it in the long run.

The reason why I say that is because, sometimes people hurt us because they are humans and humans make mistakes. Simple as that. Then there are those who hurt us because they've basically been toxic all along. And third, you've got to be honest with yourself about if you have the emotional maturity to move forward. Because if you claim that you do what to reconcile, then you've got to give someone the space to be able to bring some wholeness back to the relationship. You've got to offer them what you would want someone to offer you if you were on the apologizing side of things (and again, sooner or later, you will be).

I won't lie to you. Healing from the damage that's left, apology or not, can take some real effort and it kinda sucks that the one who was hurt has to do so much self-work. Yet the reality is that no matter how much someone apologizes and strives to make an amends, they can't undo what's already been done and there is a part of you who will have to want to heal in order for things to be set right. Do you want to heal from what happened? Only you can answer that.

7. Give Things Time


There really are some things that ONLY TIME can do. As someone who has had to learn how to do a lot of forgiving and repenting, I can tell you that some wounds have turned into scars that I can barely even see anymore. Then there are wounds that are still a little tender to the touch. What I have learned to do is "love on" all of it. I don't dismiss my wounds. I don't invalidate their needs. I don't put them in further harm's way. And when they tell me, "I need some time and space," I give it to them — and if that's in connection with a person, place, thing or idea, I honor that.

I also don't FORCE things that happen or PUT UP WALLS to prevent things from transpiring either (check out "Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead"). I get that even with all that has been said or done, time has to be given its say — and I let time take all of the time that it needs. I don't rush time. I don't let who offended me rush it. And, when I've offended someone, I don't put pressure on them to rush time either. It'll happen when it should. I've just got to remain open to time not being when I say so…when it says so. And I'll know because I'll feel peace. Not pressure.

Forgiving someone is not easy. However, I can personally and very much so vouch for the fact that when an amends comes with the apology, it hits different. Some respect is gained. Some trust is restored. And some healing can begin. Just what a full apology is supposed to do.

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

Featured image by PeopleImages/Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

August invites you to shine bright like the sun which requires you to leave behind the sob stories of being the underdog. Recognize your power as a reflection of the Divine and watch how far you can go. Be mindful of that inner critic when Mercury enters Virgo. For every negative thought, counteract it with three compliments about yourself. When Venus enters her home sign, relationship matters get a whole lot sweeter after the wild ride that was Mercury Retrograde.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

Keep reading... Show less

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less

"Black men, we're in constant warfare. Every day is a fight outside of my house, so why would I want to come home to more fighting when that is the very place where I should be resting? There are loved ones who I don't speak to as much anymore because they aren't peaceful people. A huge part of the reason why I am happier without my ex is she was rarely a source of peace. The older I get, the more I realize that peace really is the foundation of everything; especially relationships, because how can I nurture anything if I'm in a constant state of influx and chaos? Guys don't care how fine a woman is or how great the sex may be if she's not peaceful because there is nothing more valuable than peace. If the closest person to me is not a source of it, that can ultimately play a role in all kinds of disruption and destruction. No man wants that."

Keep reading... Show less

When Ngozi Opara Sea started Heatfree Hair almost a decade ago, curly and kinky extensions weren't the norm on the market as they seem to be today, especially if you wanted those textures in quality human hair. Beauty supply stores mainly sold synthetic curly hair, and there was a surge of renewal for women who were just beginning to embrace natural styles, taking to YouTube to experiment with new techniques and styles.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts