So this past week I was reminded on several occasions, by both children and adults, about the healing powers of saying you’re sorry for a mistake that you’ve made, and of course, how difficult it can be for all of us to say these two magic words…I’m sorry. A sincere apology as we all know can be healing, cathartic, and it can absolutely strengthen relationships between people and groups…but it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s hard to own up to a mistake that you’ve made, and ultimately it takes courage and strength of character to sincerely apologize for something that you’ve done wrong.
Admitting that you are wrong and asking for forgiveness makes you vulnerable, it can hurt your pride, it can make you feel incompetent or inadequate, and in many cases it makes you feel ashamed. It’s far easier for people to simply stay in denial, or to deflect blame, or to make excuses, or even to prioritize being right over making things right…it’s also interesting to me how in many instances it seems easier for kids to say sorry then it is for adults, but as grown ups we need to find the courage to model this soul bearing behavior for the little ones who are looking for us to set positive examples at every turn.
I’ve been reflecting on my own experiences recently, and over the past several years, when I’ve put myself in a position where I need to make a sincere apology for a mistake that I’ve made, I’ve realized that the first thing that happens is that I become defensive. I feel myself coming up with excuses and looking for ways to put the blame on the other person…I deflect and sometimes I get angry, but over time I’ve been able to recognize those emotions as ego, pride, embarrassment, and shame, and I have learned that saying sorry actually makes me stronger, not weaker, and it strengthens the relationships with people that I care about more than anything else…being right doesn’t matter that much to me anymore, and making things right is now my top and only priority.
Anyway, in all the experiences that I was involved in over this past week I came away inspired. A sincere apology eventually got everyone to a better place, and in all cases, with both adults and children, relationships were strengthened. We all came away feeling heard, validated, and forgiven, and hopefully some life lessons were learned and internalized. As one little kid said at the end of a difficult situation with his friend, “thank you for apologizing to me…it’s all that I needed to hear”. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…Never ruin an apology with an excuse!