February 6 Deep Listening to Ourselves and Others: The Practice of Apologizing

This week Marie will facilitate.  She shares:


Recently I've been noticing my apologies: when do I apologize (and to whom), how do I apologize and what is the impact (on me and on the other person).   I've realized that I offer different types of apologies, depending on what I've done - and - more importantly - on how I'm feeling.  I found a whole continuum of apologies - from the defensive (which is not really an apology), to the superficial to the heartfelt.  Sometimes, my apology brought relief, whereas in others, it seemed to exacerbate the suffering.  What caused the difference?


Deep listening plays a critical role.  "Non defensive listening to the hurt party is at the heart of offering a sincere apology" writes Dr Harriet Lerner, in her book Why Won't You Apologize".  She urges the listener not to interrupt, argue, refute or correct facts or bring up your own criticisms and complaints.   Even when the offended party is largely at fault, she suggests apologizing for one's own part in the incident, however small it may be.


"I'm sorry" are the two most healing words in the English language.  Apologies are central to health, both physical and emotional.  The courage to apologize wisely and well is not just a gift to the injured person, who can then feel soothed and released from obsessive recriminations, bitterness and corrosive anger.  It's also a gift to one's own health, bestowing self respect, integrity and maturity - an ability to take a clear-eyed look at how our behavior affects others and to assume responsibility for acting at another person's expense."  


I hope you can join us on Monday night, when we will discuss our practice with apologies.  Whether or not you are able to join us, I invite you to reflect on your practice with apologies: when, how and to whom do you apologize?   Do you apologize to yourself as well as to others?  What kinds of apologies do you make and how do you feel afterwards?  What is it that enables you to apologize in healing ways?  


With a warm bow,