by Robin Mitzcavitch, Director of Religious Exploration & Education
I don’t agree with this statement.
In my life, in my dearest relationships, saying, “I’m sorry” has been necessary in order to maintain those relationships. For me, love can give you the strength and courage to go through the awkwardness of letting down your righteous walls of protection and becoming vulnerable enough to utter those words.
But are those three words even enough? And why are they hard to say?
In combing through the UUA’s Siding with Love material during the “30 Days Of Love”, I found some worthy discussion topics for kids on the subject. As usual, great material for kids always strikes me as phenomenal material for adults! Let me share with you a few things that have taught me a deeper lesson of love: How to Apologize.
When you need to apologize, you can just say “I’m sorry.” You can also put some extra love into it. Before you snap out those words, perhaps you could take a minute or more. Pause. Think it through. Love means you really want to do it right. You want it to last. You want to be able to apologize well.
It’s been proven that people who can say they’re sorry, and do it with authenticity and meaning, are emotionally healthier than people who choose not to, or who can’t. All of us have the continuous potential of messing up, stepping on toes, insulting, or not being mindful of others’ feelings. No one is immune. So when you’ve hurt someone, you should probably learn the best way to patch it up…in the name of love.
Here are 4 steps to a good apology:
- Assess the situation in a factual way- What exactly happened? What did you say or do and what outcome did it have?
- Write out a gameplan – a “practice apology”: acknowledge what you did and take responsibility for the hurt it caused. Be specific.
- Have an “apology conversation”- speak from your heart, deliver your apology with no “ifs, ands, or buts” attached…then listen, really listen.
- Make amends and follow through with them.
Of course there will be those times when you need to act swiftly and may not have an opportunity to write out your apology gameplan. Maybe you’re in CVS and have to apologize to a stranger that you’ve bumped into. The time is now- say sorry from the heart, and look the person in the eye.
I have, on more than one occasion in my life, misgendered someone. I’ve been called on it, and have had to react. It’s easy to begin laying out your excuses,especially if you’re caught off-guard and embarrassed. I’ve learned that the right thing is to just say you’re sorry, from the heart, and then try to make sure you don’t do it again, even if it is hard or confusing for you. Don’t beat yourself up. Apologize, mean it, and move forward.
There are other times when we must apologize and make amends in the way of reparations. These are the big sweeping changes that you can attempt to learn about and practice yourself, and then help enlighten those in your circles. Saying sorry can now be a matter of showing up to foster change and repair, as part of a larger movement, a change that walks us closer to justice. As a white woman, I cannot personally apologize about the fact that systemic racism is still alive and well in America. I can, however, own my responsibility to be educated about it, share my education and knowledge, and boldly move to make amends in my own corner of humanity.
Love is to know how to gaze upon your own fragile and imperfect humanness, while still taking action to repair chasms, wrongs, misunderstandings, and personal ignorance. Love is always giving it your best try.
Why not try?
HERE is a 5 minute video– How To Apologize- It encapsulates what I’ve shared above! It’s easy and fun to watch with all ages. Enjoy!