i received the kindest hand written apology letter in the mail a couple of weeks ago from a dear someone. it was warm and gracious and handwritten – which made it that much more meaningful. it made me think about apologies and all the courage it takes to give a good one.
we all make mistakes. everyday. we snap at those we love. we raise our voices. we forget birthdays and big events. we say things we don’t actually mean. or worse, we say things we can never take back. we react instead of thinking our way through. we give people the silent treatment. we judge. we make assumptions. for all those mistakes i make on a constant basis, i’m afraid i’m not very good at apologizing. i am, however, pretty good at defending myself. i’m an expert at readying myself with all sorts of prepared conversation for a battle that usually never even happens. you know the drill – all those make believe conversations that you have with so and so inside your head. ugh.
but receiving a lovely handwritten apology just totally melted my heart and made me think about all the opportunities that mistakes give us to really connect with the people in our lives. i actually felt compassion for my friend who wrote the apology note – my heart was connecting to hers. i’ve learned that when i do approach a situation with an apology rather than with a prepared battle, i feel so much cleaner about it. if i just let my heart do the talking and admit i was wrong or unfair, then it gives the other person permission to let their guard down too – something my friend must have known! and that’s where the connecting happens. it’s very very good. but it takes practice – i’m trying to apologize faster these days, before the passing of time blows it out of proportion, before hurt feelings become messy anger. it’s tricky, giving good apologies. but i’m up for the challenge, for the courage piece of it.
besides, just as this hope note says, most of the time it was an honest mistake and there’s no way we could have known.