Sorry Only Works Once - Grasshopper
An apology contains power. The wind leaves its sail when it's repeatedly used for the same transgression.
Most people appreciate hearing and are touched by a heartfelt apology. It opens the door to forgiveness – the healing salve for the wounds of human relations.
Some people are too proud to apologize. They somehow think it diminishes their self ascribed worth. More to the point, an apology will bring out into the open that which they thought they had kept secret – a part of them they are not proud of, which if found out, would be a fate worse than death. Their lips remain sealed and their secret remains intact – or so they think.
Everyone, at some level, senses your secret. Admittedly, they probably don't know the content but there is a pervasive sense of something being out of kilter. Politeness may keep them from probing further, but a part of them is on to you. Famed defense attorney, Gerry Spence says experience has shown him that we all have a BS detector. That's because we all draw from the same ground water and have entangled roots. Below the surface there is no separateness. It's common ground which connects us all. The budding daffodil and crocus have no idea that their personal secrets are common knowledge in the soil below, giving new meaning to the phrase "dirty little secret."
But there are others who recognize the power of an apology and issue it with no justifications - just a pure communication of sorrow for their offense. This type of apology has an unmistakable, indelible impact for that instance.
Sometimes people use an apology as a dodge. Perhaps an example would be helpful. If you've ever seen a professional boxing match, you have witnessed the following: One fighter gets off a solid punch and staggers the other. The reeling fighter has trained himself to hang on to his opponent when he receives such a stunning blow. He hangs on long enough to clear his head and have the rubber leave his knees so he can continue on.
That's how many use an apology. It's the strategy that keeps them in the game. It's the "I'm sorry, but" approach, or it's an attempt to recapture the forgiving outcome of the sincere apology they issued in the past.
Sincerity gets severely watered down when an old apology pops up. It was useful then but has the effectiveness of a typewriter in a computer world now.
Does this mean you cannot make the same mistake twice? I hope not or we are all in a heap of horse manure. It just means that if the second mistake isn't a springboard to action, no forgiveness can flow no matter how flowery our non act of contrition may be.
This may unfluff your feathers but people don't have the power to forgive. That's the exclusive territory of Divinity. Forgiveness is a gift that flows through us that we cannot consciously create. It comes from our source. We can't create it but we can bestow it when we feel it.
An apology without action is a blockage to the flow of forgiveness. If you are issuing it for a second, third or twenty-seventh time, that indicates there was a lack of sufficient action taken on the first. The issuance of this type of apology fools no one – remember Mr. Spence's astute observation. We may delude ourselves that they really mean it this time, but absent of action, it has the effectiveness of a gelding at a breeding farm.
If you are not sorry, don't apologize because it has no effect other than to buy you more time to continue with the actions that others find offensive.
If you are truly concerned with the other person's feelings, you may acknowledge that and say something like, "I know what I have done has hurt you and I cannot expect forgiveness until I find a way to get myself on track. I will not insult you with an empty admission of regret." Then, take some action.
If you don't mean it, don't apologize. It diminishes you and demeans another.
You'll know you mean it when you can pick the flowers of your actions and hand-deliver them in a bouquet.
All the best,
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