I used to find it hard to apologise for something I had said or done that had upset or hurt someone. Growing up with a younger brother and sister I found myself having to regularly say the words “I’m sorry” through gritted teeth. Having forced out the bitter tasting words I was allowed to play in the garden again, until the next time my parents caught me being unkind to my siblings.
Growing up I became very adept at avoiding apologies by placing all the blame on someone else’s shoulders. I became a master of justifying my behaviour and although I was still made to apologise, I continued to grind my teeth as I growled out the words ungraciously.
There was a part of me that resisted having to apologise because I saw this as an assault of my already fragile self-esteem. If I had to apologise then ‘I must be in the wrong and that makes me an even nastier person’.
Then as I began to heal my broken self after years of traumatic events I began to recognise that my barbarous tongue was trying to protect me from further pain. If I felt threatened I would lash out verbally and with deliberate intent to hurt. Apologising for this would only damage me further so I hardened myself to losing friendships, falling out with business colleagues and upsetting my family.
Sometimes your own life becomes a fertile teaching ground for our own journeys. When I began to heal the emotional wounds of my past, my perception of others softened and I was better able to see their fragility. As I continued on my own path to redemption I began opening my heart to others and seeking to help them as I had helped myself. During this time I was struck by the importance of saying sorry and really meaning it.
There is a universal wisdom, often called the perennial philosophy which states that we are all one. We are all connected. When we slight another, we slight ourselves. Holding the vibration of self-validation and self-justification within us blocks our connection with love. We become disconnected from the truest most beautiful aspect of ourselves. No matter what you have done, what you’ve said, what you’ve failed to do that has hurt another, this hurt is part of their and our life experience. We often grow most from the seed of pain. Sometimes we can’t help hurting others but we can apologise for whatever we have done that has contributed towards their pain.
I have probably apologised to my daughter Rose more than anyone else on the Planet. As a single mum struggling to work and bring up a child my stress levels were high and I would often lash out. When Rose became a teenage our home became a battleground and one of us would always be apologising to the other. We both meant it when we said sorry. If we hadn’t managed to do this we would not have the close relationship that we have today.
In this powerful act of contrition we let go of our ego and step into our heart. We offer our apology with raw vulnerability without any need for absolution. We say sorry with genuine intent to soothe the fire of pain within another. We offer apologies without condition of whether or not it is accepted. If we seek forgiveness then our apology becomes conditioned and shackled to a selfish need. In the expression of the heart-felt words “I’m sorry” we are laying ourselves open and showing our humility.
In my work with my clients I have noticed that many are still angry, critical and judgemental about themselves. One of the hardest people to say sorry to is ourselves. Over the years we have done things that we regret, things that have sabotaged our happiness and things that have damaged our relationships, our well-being and our careers. Too often we harbour resentment towards ourselves that implodes within our system creating toxicity and negativity. At some point we have to forgive ourselves and apologise for everything we have done that we are not proud of. In that moment of self-forgiveness, we stimulate our Vagus nerve and soften the flow of our compassion. This enables us to let go of old pain so that we can move forwards unencumbered by our old stuff and the emotional burdens from our past.
If we struggle to say sorry then we are allowing our ego mind to control our heart. If we can give a heart-felt apology to others when called for, then we ease the journey of our soul through this lifetime.
“I am sorry” – three words that can be like wading through treacle or as liberating as the seed pod of the dandelion plant. When a dandelion matures you see the white fluffy seeds. When you blow on this flower the seeds disperse into the air and spread out to make more dandelions. An apology plants the seeds of love within others that will grow in all sorts of unexpected ways.
I want to apologise sincerely to anyone I have hurt over the years. I’m sorry that I hurt you. I’m sorry for what I said and I’m sorry for how I’ve made you feel. I’m sorry for my behaviour and I’m truly sorry for causing you any pain. If there is anything I can do to make things right between us then please let me know.