Have you ever acted like a real jerk?!?! I’m not saying there’s not context to your bad behavior; but whatever the situation... have you ever caught yourself reflected poorly and felt immediately ashamed?
That just happened to me.
Indy had a car wreck in Los Angeles. She was physically ok, the other driver was cited at fault, but his insurance company said, “sue us”...
She has endured so much, to have the mental anguish of a crash; telling me of her nightmares hearing the metal crunch..I was scared. My child was far away and shaken. I was further angry at the predatory injustice of a company unwilling to do what it is we pay insurance companies to do...I don’t sleep well when I’m worried so as I boarded a plane to LA I was on a low tank. I took my seat prepared to get some shut eye ahead of dealing with her truck repair....
That was until I felt the kicking of feet on the back of my seat accompanied by those tones associated with Children’s programming (sans headphones).
I was bugged.
After about the 12th time looking around in hopes of the parent catching the feet pounding my chair the dad instead caught my eye. His face was tired as mine and without any malice calmly said, “I’m doing the best I can, I’ll trade seats with you but he’s autistic and there’s not a lot I can do.”.
Evaporated immediately was my (wrong) idea that this was a kid kicking my seat for sport. I had a specialized art program for children with learning differences and on the autism spectrum. I understand the need for movement for boys in general but especially with certain spectrum issues.
I looked that dad straight in the face and said, “Please accept my apology, I’ve had a tough couple days but that’s no excuse for me acting like an a#%h^+#.”.
He looked so surprised but laughed..
Of course, I busted out a bag of gummy frogs to make not only amends but friends. It was just that easy...All he had to do was explain and all I had to do was say, “I’m Sorry” ...and mean it.
I had had this conversation with a girlfriend hours before I boarded my flight. She had been confronted with a perceived unkindness and asked my counsel. I told her to own it, apologize, make a gesture of reparation and then forgive herself.
We all mess up, there’s no shame in erring. There is, however, in doing wrong and not being mature enough to OWN it.
You are responsible for your OWN sorry. Nobody else can apologize on your behalf; nor should they.
Had I not immediately apologized but instead excused myself with “valid” reasons or rationalizations for my impatience I’d not have “saved face”. I’d have instead left a story of myself in the world. It would not tell the tale of who I truly am, but to that person, it’s all they would ever know me to be. I did not hesitate for a second to apologize and simply ask forgiveness. That man didn’t know my name; he doesn’t know my story. I’m just a stranger who did the right thing on the heels of doing something “wrong”.
You and you alone are responsible for your words and actions. You can encourage or injure; you can elevate or degrade. You can mess up and you can say “I’m sorry”. Your voice is powerful; use it with intention for beauty and reparation.
I believe nobody is perfect. I believe the previous sentence is a fact but not an excuse. I believe when the weight of your own burdens cloud your vision it is important to continue to see. I believe if you’re open to lessons in perspective they abound. I believe gummy frogs are the perfect peace offering. I believe REAL Warriors know the power of, “Sorry”...Always!!