Becoming a Jedi level Apologizer
If you have lived on planet earth for more than a day you have probably encountered a little something called an “apology.” Your experience, both as the giver and receiver, of this seemingly insignificant little gift can have a massive affect on the way you relate and interact with the world around you AND the way the world interacts and relates with you.
When it comes to family, friends, love, relationships, and just life in general, we aren't going to get it right every single day - this is part of the fun. But because of this, its incredibly helpful if we arm ourselves with a good apology thats locked, loaded, and ready to go as soon as its needed. If we are not prepared with a good apology when something catches us off guard we will tend to slip into the classic “fight or flight” mode which only makes the mess bigger! Many times we fight or run away simply because we don't feel like we have an alternative option in our tool box. This is where the art of the apology comes in handy.
As a young kid I somehow caught the understanding that an apology was a thing of weakness. And I quickly learnt that I could say the words and keep my heart as far away from those words as I wanted. As I grew older I began to see that an apology is not something to hide from but rather a powerful tool for communicating love. And I learnt that the more invested my heart was, the more powerful the apology became.
Like many of you, I have learnt from first hand experience the power and value of a skilful apology. It is sad to see that it is a dying art form in a world that is reluctant to take ownership of its actions and is always looking for someone else to blame.
I have done A LOT of “research” in this area of apologising. I think I can confidently say that I’m an extremely experienced apologiser… In other words; I make a lot of mistakes and have had to learn how to clean them up… haha.
When I was a kid I thought an apology was just saying the words. As long as you said “I’m sorry” then the job was done. It was the words that mattered, not whether you meant it or not…
As I have grown older I now know there are such things as good apologies and bad apologies. There are Jedi apologies that absolutely nail it and their are sloth apologies that absolutely don’t.
When we create a mess we are confronted with two options;
1 - Become a sloth and withdraw
2 - Become a Jedi and clean it up
I use the term sloth because it implies laziness (sorry to any Sloth’s reading this… Its a big generalisation I know.) Withdrawing or running away is the lazy option. It “feels” easier in the moment and is definitely attractive when the brown sticky stuff hits the fan. But a sloth will go through life continually withdrawing internally when things get tough, separating themselves from the person or the problem so they don’t have to deal with it anymore. Internal separation is a lie that promises comfort and yet delivers loneliness. Its never a good option to be a sloth…
Jedi’s however are much better at facing the storms in front of them and dealing with their messes. Why? Because a Jedi knows they have the tools to deal with everything they come across… They have “the force!” Mess is a beautiful thing that presents awesome opportunities if dealt with well. Its not easy, or comfortable, or pleasant at the time BUT cleaning up your mess is ALWAYS worth it in the end. A Jedi never needs to hide behind the lie of separation by withdrawing internally because they are prepared. And whilst a Jedi apologiser will never withdraw they can recognise when the situation needs space and are able to provide that.
When it comes to cleaning up mess, I havent found a better place to start than with a good apology. A skilled apology is a brutal attack on offence, rejection, hurt, and lies. So with that in mind, here are a few keys to becoming skilled as a Jedi in the art of apologising.
Jedi Training in the Art of Apologising
Key 1 - No Fear in Love
Apologising has become a scary thing to many people because they have only experienced punishment when they get something wrong. So the first key to a becoming skilled in the art of apologising is knowing you are loved. Perfect love casts out fear. Why? Because there is no punishment in love. When you understand that you are unconditionally, uncontrollably, furiously, and eternally loved, the fear of owning your mistakes and messes begins to dissolve away. (Some Jedi’s refer to this presence and love as “the force”)
Key 2 - Carry a Value
An apology is a beautiful opportunity to serve and strengthen your connection with the world around you. Key two is to recognise the opportunity that a good apology creates. We wont invest into something that we don’t have a value for. So recognising the value of mess and the skilled apology is important. A good apology serves to restore and rebuild trust. Why? Because it communicates that you are able to see what you have done and that you take full ownership of your words and actions. When we can see how we have caused hurt or mess we are able to adjust ourselves in a healthy way showing our friends and family that we intend to protect our relationships and create a safe place for them to grow.
Key 3 - Own it
Becoming a skilled Jedi Apologiser means you are willing to fully own that you are a powerful person and that you have an affect on the world around. When you affect those around you in a way that causes damage to your connection be sure to fully own it. Don’t apologise with statements like “I’m sorry if your offended at me, I was just trying to do this or that…” If you have acted offensively then apologise for being offensive. Don’t apologise for how they may, or may not, be feeling. Take ownership of what you did and communicate your ownership with statements like “I’m sorry that I chose to act/speak offensively.”
When a person sees ownership in this way they can begin to extend trust again because they know that you can see what you have done and that you intend not to do it again.
Key 4 - Be Specific
We have most likely all experienced those apologies that are so general and broad that you are unsure if the person apologising even knows what they did… A weak apology like this does not serve to rebuild trust. Remember, a good apology shows that you can clearly see what you have done. Communicating this in a specific way shows that “I can see exactly where I went wrong.” This gives my “sorry” pin point accuracy to hit the centre of the affected area in our relationships.
Key 5 - First Things First
Don’t try to explain your actions before communicating how sorry you are over them. When we try to over explain all the reasons why we acted offensively or said something hurtful we are communicating that “I am more interested in my need to be heard, than I am in how your heart feels right now.” This is like rubbing salt into the wound. It does not serve to rebuild trust because no ownership is taken. And even though the person may be able to see why you did what you did, they will not come away feeling loved… They will more likely come away feeling used.
If you feel a real need to explain the back story of what you did, do it after you have communicated how sorry you are for causing damage to the connection. That back story may be helpful later on in deepening your trust - but timing is everything.
So in short, a good apology is pretty simple. It’s one that communicates:
- how sorry you are
- that you can see and own the mess
- that you are seeking forgiveness
I have seen some of the most hurt, bitter, and hateful people come back to life when they encounter a Jedi level apology. Instead of telling these messed up broken people how bitter and twisted they are and how much wrong they are doing, I have looked them in the eye and told them how sorry I am for the way we (the rest of the world) have treated them. I let them know how I’m sorry that we haven't taken time to understand and hear you. I’m sorry for all that we have done to shut them down and hurt them.
I have seen the hardest of hearts open when they encounter love through an authentic apology. “The dark side” can never withstand a skilled Jedi level apology.
An apology enables us to walk through the door of love into a persons heart. A good apology allows love to go before us as we journey into the hearts of those we love to make things right. I have seen so many people try to crash on though the gates of a person heart with weak apologies, excuses, blame shifting and a number of other powerless plastic tools that only cause more damage. Trying to fix a relationship by running ahead of love is never going to end well… Walk in through the door of love by starting your journey with a good apology. Become skilled in the art of apologising and you’ll see your relationships reap the benefits. Your friendships will last, the trust you share will be deeper than ever, and the fun you enjoy will be more genuine and life giving than you knew possible! May “the force” be with you!
By Josh Klinkenberg