Monday, August 20, 2007
"I'm Sorry" Is The Starting Point -- Not The End
While I think this teacher went a little too far (sometimes, it is nice to hear those words), his point was dead-on. People often apologize and apologize, but with no change in behavior. In fact, I often see people where, in the middle of a session, they turn to their spouse and say, "I said I was sorry. What do you want me to do?" I often catch them there and say "CHANGE!"
A true apology begins with saying "I'm sorry," but is then followed up with changes that show the behavior that prompted the need to apologize has been left behind.
Too often, "I'm sorry" comes in response to "I was caught." The behavior that seemed to make sense before no longer makes sense. "The gig is up," as some would say. Then, there is the hurt and pain over the transgression, often on both parts.
The fracture can and should be healed. But saying "I'm sorry" is merely the starting point. It is the acknowledgment that something occurred that should not have. But it is also the beginning of "so what am I going to do about it?" Restoration requires a changing of behavior. This may be correcting what was done, or it may require changing habits and behaviors so that is doesn't happen again.
For instance, when a couple is struggling with the aftermath of an affair, changes in behavior on the part of the one who had the affair is necessary, if not crucial. Living an "open book" life, staying away from the other person, being loving and supportive, are all examples of changes that may continue the process.
Or for instance, someone who abuses alcohol. "I'm sorry" begins the process. But choosing to avoid friends that lead to problems or locations that elicit drinking, are perhaps necessary changes.
Too often, we quickly give an "I'm sorry," but have a hard time following this up with a change in behavior. It is good to remember that an apology only begins a process of healing.
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