On Friday Louis C.K. said, “There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.”
He claims to not know that he was hurting these women when he acted as he did. We can blame patriarchy, politics or his personal ignorance, but the truth is that he is imperfect. And, he acted imperfectly.
We are all imperfect. We have biases we are blind to see. We are ignorant in our own arenas. We have to own our ignorance if we want our apologies to create change.
I remember my friend texting me that she needed to talk. My stomach dropped. I started racking my brain for my wrongs, making mental notes of why I must be in the right. When she told me I had hurt her, I wanted to jump in with reasons and excuses. I wanted to convince her that she was misinterpreting my words.
My ego’s need to be right nearly robbed me of the power of apology. My ego’s refusal to see it’s imperfections made it difficult for me to apologize.
Ignorant perspectives lead to ignorant behavior, and the only way to become more conscious and respectful of other’s feelings is to own our imperfections and to apologize.
Our imperfections don’t excuse us but challenge us to respond to our flawed choices with an apology that actually creates change. I use the simple acronym S.O.R.R.Y to remember the art of a relationship-mending apology:
S: Save the excuses: Most people tack on excuses, justifications, and reasons why what they did is not as bad as it seems. Save the excuses and just say sorry. An excuse-free apology lets the hurt individual know that their feelings are more important than your reasons and justifications.
O: Open-ended questions. Most people ask a close-ended question like “Will you forgive me?” Please, don’t. Once you apologize, ask an open-ended question such as, “What will it take for you to forgive me? How did this make you feel? What can I do next time?” Open-ended questions let the hurt individual know that you are willing to change on their behalf.
R: Respond to the future, not the past. You cannot change the past, but you can make choices and commitments to what will happen in the future.
R: Release and Rehearse: Your ego will want to jump in and justify, so release your need to seem perfect and rehearse. Release your need to give excuses and rehearse. Release your need to jump to a quick conclusion and rehearse open-ended questions. Release your need to take back the future, and rehearse the new commitments you plan to make un the future.
Y: Yes is best. When you are at fault, the ego’s tendency is to defend itself. If you’re like me, you might adopt a defensive, “No, but…” response which makes the hurt individual more hurt. Instead, validate their feelings with a humble, “Yes, and…” response. “Yes, I understand how you must feel that way. Yes, I can make those changes in the future. Yes, it’s okay if you don’t forgive me right now. !” They might not forgive you immediately, but a “yes” attitude will create a deeper degree of forgiveness when they do accept your apology.
This week’s mindfulness challenge is to notice how often you jump to justify yourself. When you feel this ego-based need rear it’s unhelpful head, forgive yourself. Then, practice the five steps of S.O.R.R.Y.
A good apology empowers the people in your life to feel heard and trusting of change. Meanwhile, it sheds light on your own ignorance so that you don’t hurt anyone else in the future.
If you want even more notes about how to embrace imperfection and respond to sticky feelings of shame and regret, grab my latest book, “I Can’t Beleive I Dated Him,” an Amazon #1 New Release.
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May we heal fully, live freely and love boldly,
This post is in collaboration with The Refined Collective Series. Be sure and check out the other ladies in this wonderful group Kat Harris, Julien Garman, Brynna Watkins, Tutti del Monte, Sarah Shreves