Able to Make Amends? Right here’s Methods to Do It Gracefully


Ready to make amends? Here’s how to do it gracefully

Ready to make amends?
Here’s how to do it gracefully

Jenny Taitz

You flip your phone open and your finger hovers over her number. You want to see how this person is doing, but maybe some time has passed and you don’t know if it feels appropriate. Or maybe the last time you spoke didn’t end so well. Maybe it’s an ex and you really want to wish them well. Or maybe it’s a former colleague and you’ve left a toxic job. But maybe, you think, there are some things that should be left unsaid.

Not so, says psychologist Jenny Taitz. Of course, when a relationship gets strained or ends we want to look for answers or explanations, but it’s easy to get caught up in endless rumination – the kind of spiral that ultimately leads to inactivity, says Taitz. She teaches patients strategic ways to think through difficult conversations and be careful with them using tools from the dialectical behavior therapy she shares here. “No matter how difficult the conversation is, it can go so much better than you think if you approach it with the right tone and content,” says Taitz. When you are thinking about reconnecting with someone from your past, or when you want to avoid an overdue conversation, Taitz’s process is rooted in self-compassion and self-respect. As she explains, “Often times it just feels good to say what you need.”

A Q&A with Jenny Taitz, PsyD

Q What’s the first thing to consider when considering reaching out to someone from your past? A

First of all, it is important to remember that any relationship will have its conflicts. It’s inevitable with any long-term loan. Ideally, you – and your relationships – can be strengthened if you are able to address a rift in a productive manner.

That’s why I usually encourage people to live a lifestyle: a life in which you face what is important to you rather than avoid it. But there is one caveat when it comes to re-engaging with a difficult person from your past, whether they are an estranged family member or an ex: only do it if you believe they will eventually will prove to be healing.

The best way to find out is to think about your long-term goals and the facts at hand. Would you like this person to be a source of emotional support? Are you just hoping to get some emotion off your chest? Is it realistic to believe that this will happen? Think about whether you will feel better if you do any of the above. If you’re not sure, try making a list of the pros and cons of contacting and not contacting.

One thing that is important in all circumstances is taking your own emotional temperature. If you are feeling particularly lonely or struggling with intense negative emotions, as many of us do during the pandemic, you know that you are at a higher risk of acting impulsively than you might otherwise be. I’ve never had a client who regretted waiting to send an angry email or text a long-lost lover at 1am

Q Is there ever a time when the past should stay in the past? A

Depends on. If you’ve tried repeatedly to talk to someone who kept firing you, you have two options:

1. You can reconsider the way you approach the person to see if you can get a more satisfactory result. If you’ve tried to get in touch before, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying again, especially if you change your strategy.

2. You can decide that it is time to radically accept the hurt, that it has more to do with you than you and your worth, and that it is healthy to maintain some emotional distance. It can also be helpful to ask yourself what your life should be like and who you want it to be. When you know for sure that the person will not be able to offer you what you need, it may make sense to walk away for reasons of self-compassion.

Q How would you approach this conversation? A

If you think it is wise to speak up, prepare for a better conversation by thoughtfully studying an empowering way to express your needs. I like a technique called DEAR MAN that comes from dialectical behavior therapy, an approach that teaches practical skills in dealing with emotions and in the effectiveness of relationships. The strategy can help you focus on presenting the facts and your hopes alongside mutual benefit. All of these can be helpful in meeting your needs.

How it works: DEAR stands for describing the facts, expressing your feelings, asking for what you want, and rewarding or thinking about what is in it for the other person. The MAN part is more about how you can get your message across: (be careful), act confidently, and negotiate as needed. In other words, focus on your intention, remember your own worthiness, but try to be flexible.

DEAR MAN helps us avoid some of the usual detours that stand in the way of achieving our goals. Of course, if you start out with too much anger, the other person will become defensive, even when justified. Instead, simply describe the facts and then express your feelings. So instead of saying, “You are selfish” or “You have been manipulative,” just describe exactly what happened. For example, “When I told you about my depression and you didn’t investigate, I felt hurt.” By making yourself feel a little vulnerable, you are giving the other person a chance to put yourself in their shoes. Then you can ask what should happen – “I would really appreciate it if you stretched out and not run in combat” – since no one can read your mind, as frustrating as that may be. Given that all relationships are one-way streets, you should also think about what you can offer. You could say, “I promise I won’t go on and on. I care about you and your feelings and want to hear about them and be there for you. “

When making your request, also consider your intensity by rating it from one (for silence) to ten (for screaming). Then slow down and adjust your tone if necessary. This is less about taking care of another person and more about feeling emotionally regulated and adjusting to really being heard.



  • D.Describe the facts

  • E.xpress how you feel

  • Assert or ask for what you want

  • R.einforce or reward


  • M.indful

  • Act confident

  • N.egotiate if necessary

Q How do you check in to yourself at this moment? A

Try something called coping to keep your composure. If instead of worrying about something you are worried about something, realistically imagine the situation, know what is likely to happen, and then imagine how you will succeed. Doing these mental rehearsals ahead of time will trigger the same areas of the brain that will activate when you are actually in the situation, increasing your competence and your chances of success in the moment.

Of course, sometimes things take unexpected or exciting turns – one that we cannot predict. If this happens, take a moment to recalibrate yourself, feel your feet on the ground, take a deep breath, and remember your ultimate goal. If you’re feeling too intense, it’s okay to take a break until you feel clearer.

Q What if you don’t get what you want from the interview? How do you deal with your own guilt or shame? A

Many people put too much emphasis on the idea of ​​closure, provided a perfect ending with someone will ease the pain or suddenly help make everything make sense. However, it may make more sense to work on radical acceptance – actively accepting the result from moment to moment – than fighting reality through overanalysis. Ultimately, you have to be open to what is, even if it is painful.

{“Sizes”: {“Handy”:[[300,250]]”Tablet”:[[300,250]]”Desktop”:[]}, “Targeting”: {“pos”: “rightrail”}, “adUnit”: ” / 55303442 / ros”} Q How do you take care of yourself after the conversation? A

Sometimes you have to let yourself go instead of stewing indefinitely. The term “elephant in the room” is a misnomer – too often the elephant is on your shoulders when you feel resentful or reconsidering something that has happened in the past. It’s helpful to have a game plan to calm yourself down after everything you’re expecting feels painful. Schedule some pleasant, distracting activities, whether you’re taking a live Instagram training class, listening to a crime podcast, or doing something relaxing like a gentle skin care ritual. Call a friend who you know will feed and nourish you (but skip a long game by game if that just makes you relive your pain). Whatever the result, beating yourself up and wishing everyone were different isn’t going to help in the long run.

Jennifer Taitz is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and the author of How to be Single and Happy: Science-Based Strategies to Maintain Your Sanity While Finding a Soulmate and Quitting Emotional Eating. She provides practical tools to help her clients live better lives at LA CBT DBT, her private practice in Beverly Hills.

We hope you enjoy the books recommended here. Our goal is to only suggest things that we love and that we think you could, too. We also like transparency, meaning full disclosure: we can collect part of sales or other compensation when you shop using the external links on this page.




We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.