Friday, October 6, 2017
Saying sorry, apologising, asking for forgiveness.
Are these 3 the same thing?
Anyway, starting at the beginning. When children are young, parents, educators and others encourage children to say they are sorry, when they have hurt someone, or broken someone’s thing. Children are told to say sorry, before they have even understood what it means. It looks like just being taught the words for the occasion. However, most people probably also model this around the children and say they are sorry when required. An adult might even say, for example: “I’m sorry that you broke Aunty’s vase. Now she doesn’t have her vase that she has loved for years. I’m going to say sorry to Aunty. How about you do too?”
For some adults, sorry doesn’t happen. Maybe they didn’t have the teaching or the modelling when young. And there is more to it than that. Saying sorry or apologising can be downright difficult. It can feel really awkward. It’s like exposing yourself as being wrong. It’s like revealing your worst self. You just don’t want to say those words. How would you feel about asking someone to forgive you? Does that feel even stronger?
When you do say sorry, does the other person acknowledge what you have said and say thank you? What do you say when someone apologises to you? Often we tend to brush it off and say something like “That’s ok” or “No need to apologise” or “There is nothing to forgive”. We try and make things better as fast as possible to get out of that awkward situation, instead of using the opportunity for a real connection.
I have had the experience of my apology and my asking for forgiveness being treated just like that. And for me, it then feels like I’m not free of it. When someone told me that forgiveness was not needed, I felt like I was being shut off, brushed aside, not listened too, and not valued.
Asking for forgiveness or apologising for something you have done, whether you meant to do it or not, gives you the opportunity to be honest, it gives you the chance to show kindness, it gives you the time to connect authentically. It allows you to accept what you did and to be free of the feelings associated with it. It allows you to drop it.
It could be an apology for words causing emotional hurt, or upset, even though you were unaware of doing that and had no intention of causing pain. Apologies are powerful. They can mean that you connect instead of brushing stuff aside.
Responding to an apology or request for forgiveness is a wonderful chance to really listen and understand the other side. To inquire into what was actually going on for the other person. So feel grateful for the apology and say thank you, instead of brushing it away.And think about saying sorry to yourself. Or forgiving yourself. Give yourself some love and compassion.