This process has to do with really listening to the complaint that your partner or the person you offended has with you. Sometimes (or a lot of times) we have behaved in ways that were hurtful either to our spouses, ex spouses, our children, or others and have put them into awkward no-win situations.
An authentic apology will clear the field; where there’s no residue, there’s no resentment or bitterness on either side.
How many times have you heard someone say begrudgingly, ‘I’M SORRY!’. Did that feel authentic? Did it land on your heart? Did you feel like the problem was resolved, that they got it or did you feel like they were just paying you lip service?
My mentor Dehyana Lim always said, “You cant have what you don’t give. If you’re looking for an apology, you have to be willing to authentically give one.”
Let go of your need to be right. Ask yourself, ‘would I rather be right or would you rather be loved?’.
An authentic apology can clear the slate to a new beginning in your relationship and in your life. It will set you free and begin the cohesion process back into the relationship.
We’re so psychologically sophisticated, and we think that somehow it’s going to clear things to just explain our psychology to another person. But it’s not sufficient to actually clear the field. What’s going to clear the field and make for no residue, is to really give yourself fully to understanding the impact of your choices and your actions on the other person and everyone involved. Let them know you see that, and you get it. To actually allow yourself to empathize with them into what that experience was like for them.
It’s a very humbling process, and it’s where you take responsibility. You name the cost to everyone involved, and you begin the process of cleaning up your act and starting to behave differently. Normally what we do is; either we’ll defend against the complaint or we’ll try and trump it with our own complaint, or we will then explain ourselves with our psychology: “Well, you know, I always do that because, you know this is what happened to me. When I was younger my mom and my dad and my brother were…” Whatever it is, we don’t want to go there. It’s about being fully present to what they are saying. Even though you’re going to want to go there, just set it aside and really listen.
First, ask them what the experience was like for them. And really let them share with you the ways that it impacted them. Let your heart feel it. Remember, this is really real for them. It will break your heart open if you just let yourself feel it without having a need to explain, justify or react.
Get present and then let them know that you got it; that you heard it; that your heart is grieved with them; and then you recreate what they can count from you from now on. So you might say something like, ‘I know that way of being cost our relationship. I can see how selfish that was of me. I can see how much that tore you up. I want you to know I am really grieved at my own behaviour. I’m even horrified by it and I really get it.’
Next you let them know by proclaiming something like, “From this moment on what you can count on me for is to always take your feelings into account; to be more mature; to think more holistically rather than just myself, with you and with everyone from this moment forward in my life”.
Let the apology land on them. They may need time to take it away and process what you just offered them. Keep your heart open and know that you did this to clear the residue so you can both move forward powerfully and to begin the process of cohesion back into the relationship.
This is a true amends. Is takes courage but the rewards and the ripple affect out into your community are huge. No one likes to clean the house, but everyone loves what it feels like afterwards to have a beautiful, tidy, clean environment.
This apology process is what can create that kind of clarity between yourself and another person that builds a fulfilling relationship.
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To a life well lived,