The past few years, I have dedicated myself to saying “I’m sorry” more often. It’s been a journey because my perfectionist self doesn’t like to apologize. She’s rather proud. She doesn’t like to admit when she’s failed.
I’m determined to beat her, though, and that determination means practicing the art of humility. In some cases, the apology comes because I feel as though I’ve been acting like a boor. I feel the need to confess my lack of kindness. Such apologies can come as complete surprises to the person I believe I’ve hurt, which makes me wonder if I should have apologized. Perhaps that person and I would be better off without me saying something. Most of the time, a sense of rightness prevails: the necessity of the apology is confirmed by how strongly I balk at making it. I also never know if some sort of wound is festering. It’s better to say I’m sorry and to empty a wound, even if it’s only a scratch, of its pus and ability to poison.
Such cases are rare; the apology is needed most of the time. I’ve been mean; I’ve said something that makes me sound like a whiny two-year-old; I’ve missed an email and neglected to do the work I promised to do. All those instances require an apology, but more sometimes is required.
Sometimes, an apology is not enough. The words have to be accompanied by action. In the case of neglecting work I promised to do – even if it were due to missing an email – I do the work without invoicing for it. A tough choice? Yes. The right one? I think it is. It hurts, but it’s supposed to. I am at fault. I need to restore that relationship as best I can. I need to let the person I’ve hurt or disappointed know I’m truly sorry, and I do that by humbling myself, apologizing, and doing the honorable thing even when it exacts a high price.
Image: The Master Shake Signal (CC BY SA 2.0)