Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Value of Apology: A Path to Reconciliation

What are the two hardest words to hear? Maybe "You're dying" or "You lose" or "You're wrong".

What are the two hardest words to say? That's easy. "I'm sorry."

In fact, some people would rather hear "You're dying" than say, "I'm sorry."

Apologizing for hurting someone or something that someone holds dear can be very difficult. Who wants to admit that he failed? Nearly nobody.

But a wise person admits his error and corrects it. A wiser person, and a humble one, admits it not just to himself, but also to the person affected by the error. The wisest person, does everything in his power to make the situation right--mending what can be mended.

Not admitting faults is stupid. Not apologizing is arrogant. Allowing the mistake to stay uncorrected reveals a serious character flaw. Ignorant arrogance: what a deadly combination.

Pop psychology focuses on forgiveness. Little time is spent on learning to take responsibility for mistakes and making them right. Both bitterness (a lack of forgiveness) and contempt (scornful towards those you've wronged) eat away at the fabric of the person.

This is the perfect time of year to take personal stock. Stop carrying the burden of bad behavior. Ask for forgiveness (not to dump your emotional baggage--note to those who have "cheated" on a spouse and want to "unload", for this I recommend your conversation be between you and God) and make it right, to the extent that you can. Some things can never be undone, but that doesn't mean a new start can't happen today.

If a person comes to you and asks for forgiveness and does everything in his power to make the situation right, give the blessing of forgiveness. It is a gift to the wrong-doer and to yourself. We've all been the person who messed up. It's good to remember that when contemplating forgiveness.

For those of you not versed in apology here's an example:

"Mr. ________, I am sorry that I _____________________. It was wrong and hurt you in this way: _________________________________. Please forgive me. To make up for what I did/said, I will ________________________________. Is that okay with you?"

In these days of "spinning" and "denial" and then absolute brutality when someone does finally apologize (instead of kind forgiveness), is it any wonder people don't want to own up to their mis-deeds? Well, the answer is to apologize and do right anyway.

Our own health, physical, spiritual and mental, depends on apologizing. It's an art that can be learned and practiced.

Reconciling ourselves to our friends, family, co-workers and customers. What could be a better way to start the day?
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