People have all sorts of opinions about apologies. Ali MacGraw’s Jenny, says to Ryan O’Neill’s Oliver in Love Story, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  I understand the sentiment, but add—love thrives from having the windows opened. A sincere, neat apology lets the air circulate in and between people. Even when love isn’t involved, there is freshness. Our hearts and spirits know when an “I’m sorry” is due and sing when we speak or receive one.

Apologizing is not weak. It does ask for openness and that feels damn vulnerable some times. Vulnerability takes courage. Once we hit that ball of an apology across the net, we don’t know what, if anything, is coming back over. But we know from the wonderful press vulnerability receives, that it is the doorway to greater connection and intimacy. Not just with others, but ourselves. When we cozy up with ourselves, we honor our true, inner promptings and what others need to be whole.

Apologizing can be so hard though! We get caught up on worrying about looking bad, being right, protecting ourselves. Yes, apologizing puts aside our own annoyances and hurts, acknowledges our own fallibility, but it also removes the debris and noise of the ego. An apology shakes off pride and shame and allows us to say “Hello, there messy and marvelous human!” and “I’m sorry.” It is a gentle kiss to self “as is” and an empathetic embrace of another. Self-compassion replaces self-competition. We abandon the need to be seen as…well…perfect.  We get ok with imperfect. Authenticity gets permission to show up and we become more present and understanding, better at avoiding the missteps that need apologizing.

Keeping apologies simple grants them full impact. Without reasons attached, an apology is heard, felt. The person receiving it, seen. Attaching an explanation to what caused us to be late, say the wrong thing, lose our patience, to be less than was needed, waters down even the most heart-felt apologies. It’s good to remember further discussions can always be had about patterns, triggers, dynamics, our feelings. Those moments will come and they will be all the more satisfying since the opening brought by our openness will let light come in.

How are you at apologizing?  Is there an apology in you waiting to be spoken–to yourself (my guess is we each owe ourselves a few apologies) or another?

If you would like to create from your authentic, marvelous, messy self, to live a personal and professional life that is happily yours, connect with me at [email protected] or through my website or instagram @agoodlife.adele.