Let’s take what we’ve learned so far and apply it to a real-life scenario. Remember to monitor your emotions when reading this. The goal is to be the self-observer to analyze your reactions. If you become reactive, pause and go to the last step.

The trigger: John didn’t send the class recap from last week.

My intention: To send a recap by Monday

  • Therefore, John feels bad because he is not self-reliable
  • If I had communicated that intention to you I am not reliable to you
  • If you emailed me to ask for a recap and I didn’t respond in a timely manner, I am not reliable or accountable.

Making amends: “I apologize for not sending the recap earlier.”

  • This demonstrates accountability to myself and others. The quicker it is offered, the better.
  • No story about why – keeping my boundaries about this situation around the data, not the story. The story is an attempt to make me feel better because I don’t have self-forgiveness. This strengthens accountability.
  • No trying to convince you that you should feel sorry for me for the busy week I had. No trying to blame the email gods for not sending the email or redirecting it to your spam folder. No trying to soften the blow. No putting the accountability on someone/something else. (hint: integrity)
  • Just the apology.

Making Amends – part 2 – reiterating promise: “My intention is to send the recap by Monday”

  • Establishing the intention to repair reliable and create accountability for you and for myself
  • This may be important in a professional relationship (manager-staff, consultant-client)
  • This may be important for a personal relationship (partner-partner, parent-child, friend-friend)


  1. How do you feel about me now that I’ve apologized and reiterated my intention?
    • Compassion for John and no concern for the future
    • Thankful for the apology
    • Ok, and we’ll see…
    • Whatever, he’s always late
    • I can no longer be in this class
  2. How does your feeling on the forgiveness spectrum affect you… your relationships, your motivation, your health, your experience of the class, your feeling about yourself?
  3. How do the actions of John mirror your own actions? Ask yourself, “How (or when) am I like that?”

Now, put yourself in the “trigger seat.” Recall a scenario where something you did or said (or didn’t) that activated a trigger in yourself or someone else.

The last step

When you are finished, do a heart-coherence meditation. If you become triggered by this exercise of analyzing a trigger, then put it aside and do a heart-coherence meditation.

Leave a comment below with questions, thoughts, or results.


  1. Mary McMahon

    Apology accepted, though your not sending the recap did not affect me at all.

    Any suggestions for a heart coherence meditation? I am not familiar with that phrase.

    • John Riley

      Yes, there’s a video explanation of the heart-coherence technique provided by HeartMath® above and to the right and at https://youtu.be/8zHuoU8yKLQ.

      Thank you for accepting my apology. Now, for extra credit, whose business is it if I still feel blame, shame, and guilt? Whose business is it if you still feel frustrated, angry, and resentful?

    • Mary McMahon

      We are each responsible for how we feel.

  2. Linda Grayson

    Thanks for sending this and making an amend. I honestly was concerned that something was wrong with you or your family. Glad that’s not true.
    Owning up to our “foibles” is so hard and it takes courage to do so. But by looking at our feelings or actions, owning them and then following through with an amend is so cleansing. And it feels good to take responsibility for ourselves, it’s empowering.
    Looking forward to class this Thursday.

    • John Riley

      Yes! By taking accountability for our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions we release self-unforgiveness. Cleansing, freeing, empowering!
      Thank you for your concern and warm thoughts.

  3. Emily De Martini

    John, thank you for your apology. It enabled me to hold you in even higher esteem because I see that you are accountable, human, and have integrity. When I put myself in the “trigger seat” I saw that sometimes I have the tendency to tell “the story” instead of sticking to “the data” to justify my behavior because I don’t have self forgiveness.
    Your example also helped me see the importance of reiterating your intention. When we are able to do this, we give
    ourselves a second chance to make good on our intentions.

    • John Riley

      Putting ourselves in the “trigger seat” is one of the most courageous expressions of self-forgiveness. Wonderful realization around “the story,” Emily. The key is to do it with the “no blame, no shame, no guilt” switch on so that we can be curious and praise ourselves for the self-realization.

  4. Lisa Whitfield

    Dude, I didn’t even remember that you said you would send a recap! But if I had, and not receiving it bothered me, I would like to think I would have remembered my boundaries. It would have been on me to email you and ask why you hadn’t sent it, while not relying on a “story” about why you didn’t! I didn’t remember though, so I didn’t get to practice that! Dang 😉

    • John Riley

      Actually… I don’t think I ever said it. It was an internal intention. It shows how our internal expectations can create all sorts of challenges in our lives.

  5. David springhorn

    Compassion is everything your apology is golden. If in time I can’t trust you it’s my duty not to set you up.


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