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How to apologise


Recently, I had a friend who lost a grandmother she was close to. And even though she must have felt really down, she shared her memories of her grandmother very eloquently: "I was just thinking along the lines of Doing and Being. My grandma having done fun and funny things notwithstanding, I think the bright memories of her will also be because of how she did them and who she was. She really had such a gentle temperament and welcoming nature. I guess all our Doing needs to be grounded in sound Being, otherwise... might end up as clanging cymbal or a vain pursuit?"

It was really a thoughtful reflection, and I shall keep it close to my heart. I hope to be like this grandmother, who not only did things with people around her, but did it sincerely, making sure she was present as she was doing them, extending herself and her personality into everything she did. We can all spend time with our loved ones, but it's hard for this time spent to be meaningful if it was coupled with "Being".

It also reminded me of this terrific list from Dr. Harriet Lerner, in a podcast with Dr Brene Brown, on how to apologise. Apologising is difficult, because it means we have to admit we are wrong. Being wrong registers a pain in our brains similar to pain caused by physical injury; our brains are naturally inclined to avoid pain, and so we face internal resistance apologising. But we should be aware of our natural inclinations and strive to overcome them. We can't always be right. For the things that matter, we should always consider the possibility that we are wrong. We should also bear in mind that apology is not necessarily a painful experience, but instead provide a means of deeper connection. But as Lerner shares, apology by itself is insufficient. "Sorry" is just a word. There needs to be a "being" that accompanies the action, to mean it, to want things to be better. Instead of a simple focus on ourselves and what we need to do, we have to focus on being present for the other person, whom we might have caused a lot of pain to.


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