How can I atone for being cowardly?

I panicked over a minor parking lot mistake. It was totally my fault, but due to another insurance issue, I left a note with an illegible phone number. Guilty over this, I got an envelope containing several hundred dollars. Unfortunately, by the time I returned, the other driver had seen my ersatz note and drove away. Since I cannot make this up to that individual, how do I atone for my cowardly act? I have been trying to do random acts of kindness in hopes that karma will somehow even out.

Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

From your writing, you have already atoned for what you describe as "cowardly".

Recognizing your action and trying to directly correct it, realizing your action was improper and demonstrating the willingness to take right action, are all examples of making things right.

Since the actual driver is unavailable to consult as to their wishes on what they expect and feel would correct the matter, you did the next best thing and considered the situation from the driver point of view.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Frank Theus
Frank Theus
MA, LPC, NCC, CSAT

   Thanks for sharing as it shows your humanity and that you have a sensitive conscience. In your example here I'd encourage you to always think, "safety first"; and never offer a stranger at the accident scene "...several hundred dollars". Why? Because it could go badly against you (i.e. extortion, robbed, or would this be considered a bribe).

   To the point, I'm reminded of Steps Eight and Nine in many 12-step programs regarding making amends. In your specific example since the injured unidentified party departed, and by your own admission you've been doing random acts of kindness, it seems to me you've acted in reasonable good faith fashion to make amends. Well done.

   I'm not a karma expert but as a therapist I would invite you to explore the deeper story behind your use of the words "cowardly", "guilty", and what it does for you to engage in "random acts of kindness". What a fascinating journey this could be for you. Best wishes.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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