No one likes to be caught in a storm. However, it may be worth it if it results in a wondrous rainbow. Life is full of storms and rainbows. Many of the storms are of our own making, and if we look about, we may discover a trail of devastation that we have left behind. Our unwarranted outbursts, cruel criticisms, selfish acts, jealous rages, and shameful behavior are storms, which leave in their wake countless victims. Stunned by the havoc, our victims stand in silence, waiting for a rainbow. The rainbow they expect to experience is our apology. If we created a storm, isn’t producing a rainbow the least we can do? Shouldn’t we apologize for our misdeeds?
Our apologies should be swift, sweeping, and sincere. That is, they should be made as quickly as possible, be complete, and come from the heart. There are many reasons to apologize, some of which appear below.
1. Ugly caterpillars change into beautiful butterflies or moths. Similarly, our hideous transgressions can bear beautiful fruit. An apology may result in a family reconciliation, for example.
2. Victims are in pain and apologies are a balm or salve that can ease or end that pain. If youve done something wrong, change your role from a transgressor to a healer. For as Gilbert K. Chesterton wrote, The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
3. Isn’t the purpose of life growth, unfoldment, and improvement? In other words, arent we supposed to be better today than we were yesterday? How can we improve without apologizing for our wrongdoings?
4. Our life is a tapestry that we are weaving. Whether it becomes a work of art or a cheap imitation depends on our actions. Apologizing is to take responsibility and return to the path of virtue.
5. When you make the effort to right a wrong, you reap joy, and when you neglect to do so, you harvest regret. So, apologize and experience joy instead of regret.
6. As a tree develops, it produces more and more limbs, branches, and leaves. If a tree has a large number of leaves, it can collect a great deal of energy from the sun. This results in a large, strong tree. Our branches, limbs, and leaves are relationships. We need them to survive and grow strong. When we treat others badly, we sever relationships (cut branches) and weaken ourselves. We need to apologize to mend the damage.
7. Apologizing is also an opportunity to develop humility, courage, honesty, and fairness.
How to Apologize
Before apologizing, you must understand how your victims feel. They feel PAIN because they discovered how vulnerable they are. They feel ANGER because they were robbed of the security of a friendship. They feel MISTRUST because they were betrayed.
Now that you know how they feel, you must take appropriate action. Begin by expressing REMORSE. Apologize for the pain, anger, and loss of trust that you have caused. Express CONTRITION by offering to make up for the harm that you have done. Ask them what they would like you to do. Demonstrate your SINCERITY by changing your behavior. For very serious offenses, it may take a long time before you regain their trust. Let them know you understand this and accept it.
Would you like to be forgiven for something you regret doing? The path to forgiveness is an apology, so what are you waiting for?