Each of us has fallen off our own applecart and done something we regret. One of the best ways to get back on track and strengthen our willpower is to know how to truly apologize to ourself and others, with our whole heart.
It’s hard when we mess up and need to apologize. It can be devastating. Maybe we made a mess in our relationship, home and life. Maybe we don’t notice that so much, but we notice that the people in our life don’t like us or don’t like living with our messes. So they leave our world and we feel alone.
Tempted to lie, sure to fail
After the fail and before the apology, there’s the haunting threat that we may lose all the “good stuff” in our life—joy of all kinds, including people and things. Under the weight of this threat, it can be very tempting to lie to try and cover it up or receive pardon. This reminds me of a story of a woman who finds someone else’s cookie in her cookie jar. She asked her husband (the only other person in the house), “Did you put this cookie in my jar?” He replies, “It wasn’t me.” This lie is sure to fail.
The next best thing
The next best thing to a lie is a half-hearted apology. We might say, “I’m sorry,” but we are still focused on our own pain and gain. We are not focused on the pain we’ve caused others and the fact that our new lie causes more pain. Maybe we are sorry for the fact that we are in this situation. Maybe we are sorry that we made the mess, or made it again. Regardless, it’s just sympathetic words expressing regret for something, but nothing is changing and we are willing to continue hurting the other person(s).
Having known hundreds of people who have chosen addiction as their escape-route from fully living, I have heard every apology known to (wo)man. I would rather hear nothing than hear a lie or a half-hearted apology. Any apology I choose to listen to, is really just my choice to allow the sorry person to get it off their chest. Apologies are just apologies. For me, actions and actively growing are everything.
The very best thing
The rarest, most beautiful and invigorating kind of apology is one that involves the truth of our whole heart. It is so rare, that some of us may never have heard one. It involves knowing and sharing our true thoughts, feelings, weaknesses and applying our creative imagination to change our behavior and build a more responsible self.
A whole-hearted apology sounds like this …
The truth of a whole-hearted apology sounds something like this, “I am sorry that I was (insensitive, unthinking, disrespectful, etc.). There is no excuse for my behavior. I was wrapped up in feeling (insecure, angry, selfish, afraid, etc.). Instead of listening to my feelings etc., and doing something positive (like taking time alone, discussing them, exercising etc.), I took it out on (myself, you, him, her, the staff, etc.). My mistake has consequences and I am willing to accept them. I am also deeply sorry and won’t ever do this again (THIS IS KEY). This may be hard to believe and hear right now, but this is my plan to make sure that I never put anyone, including myself, in this situation again. (Create and share your own, fool-proof PLAN here). I know I cannot change what happened, but what else may I do to help?
A step towards greatness
We’ve all been on the giving or receiving end of an apology. The question is, if we’re going to apologize, are we willing to do it with our whole heart? Saying “I’m sorry” to ourself and others can be a healthy, healing step as we “lighten our load” and grow our willpower.
How have you been affected by heartless or heartfelt apologies? What kind of apologies do you make? Have you ever apologized to yourself? Are you willing to give a whole-hearted apology today? How do you think it might affect the listener? How would you be affected if you were them? Please share so we all may hear and learn together …