This is a philosophical post, intended to spark thinking and examining.
@johngreen, in a interview at the WEF, recently talked about the novel Love Story by Erich Segal:
“… that was the famous line from that book, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” which is the most ludicrous definition of love – I mean my experience is that love means constantly having to say that you’re sorry. ”
It got me thinking.
In a relationship, we do have the opportunity to create a space for another and their actions. We can give room to their foibles and give up using it against them.
To give space is a creative and loving act. In that way, the saying does indeed hold some weight.
I’d say there is something much greater in the realm of saying sorry where I totally concur with John.
The act of apologizing is, I would say, the very definition of being loving* towards someone.
It is a natural and integral part of having and displaying empathy and connection.
By its very nature, it indicates that I, as an individual and a human being, care about and are interested in (an)other human being(s). It displays that I am interested in the impact of my actions.
We are not always our best selves.
Sometimes our actions, or inactions, cause hurt, issues, complications, pain, extra work, stress, upset, frustration, insult, nastiness, injury, ruin, and more.
If that is not who we intended to be, if that is not who we want to be, we have to be present to and own that we did, indeed, cause that.
To reclaim ourselves, we can apologize.
Apologies don’t only rebuild trust. They are the very building blocks of trust in the first place.
They demonstrate a commitment to the relationship and to the well-being of others.
The more I, and you, love someone, therefore, the more I, and you, would apologize.
And we would apologize fully.
Apologies include more than just saying “I’m sorry,” or “I apologize,” though that is a very important way to start.
Apologies include being with the other person or people and getting, understanding, recognizing, and acknowledging the impact that the (in)action(s) had on the other person or people.
Apologies include taking ownership and responsibility for the (in)action(s).
Apologies include being willing to be responsible and take on any fallout from the (in)action(s), and to be willing to do the work to clean up the mess.
Apologies include, afterwards, taking steps to avoid it occurring again in the future.
It doesn’t have to be long or fancy. It needs to be complete and authentic.
An apology is a humble act.
It requires us to be open, vulnerable, and filled with empathy. It comes from generosity.
Apologies make no demands. Apologies are not designed to force something to happen. Apologies cannot be delivered with a hidden “in order to”. Apologies are more than just explanations or justifications. Apologies cannot foist the ramifications and the cleanup onto others to deal with.
Apologies are all me.
There is no threshold for “too small a thing” for an apology.
Even when, as said above, we may be lovingly granted space for certain actions, to acknowledge and own our actions is the path both to maintaining that loving space and towards developing mindfulness and to interrupting the cycle.
Taking the initiative in an apology is part of the apology.
It may not be comfortable. In my experience, they rarely are.
But if our commitment is to love and being loving and being connected and relatedness, then apologizing is what there is to do.
Perhaps, to expand that famous line:
“Love also means never avoiding to say that you’re sorry.”
* Not just romantically here, but the love and kinship we feel for friends, family, acquaintances, members of our community…. all the way to all members of our community called humanity.