Are you happy about your ability to be energy-aware yesterday? Were you able to see people’s dealings with you as experiences they were having rather than ones you needed to have? Were you, like a matador dodging a bull, able to turn your ego aside and allow someone’s aggressive thought to pass by? If you succeeded in that, then congratulations. Practice that skill and you’re a long way towards improving your life substantially.
“Letting” someone be angry with you, or be sad or upset around you does require us to keep our ego at bay. But what about inviting them to be upset? What about reminding them of something unpleasant or painful? What if you had to demonstrate your spiritual and psychological strength by apologizing for something?
This is one of the most generous acts you can participate in. You know that from receiving them. It’s shockingly rare. Egos have no interest in that responsibility, whereas your soul lives somewhere where that storm is taking place in a sky so vast that you can both recognize it and see it for what it really is–an act like any other.
You are not being judged. You do not get points or a reward for doing the right thing. This isn’t about you appearing noble or fair or any other thing. Those are all ego-achievements. This is less about an achievement for your soul and more like an awakening of it. You’re not on a ladder of development and apologizing is higher up the rungs than where you are. The reward in life isn’t where you get to, it’s about how connected you get.
Apologizing is a form of connecting and when you’re getting mentally healthier it becomes less scary and more rewarding. Think about how good it feels to get one. People remember these things for their entire life.
I’ve already explained that you don’t pay a price for not apologizing–it just means you’ve stayed asleep. Many do until just the moments before death. But being awake and truly alive is the most vibrant, rich and rewarding life you can have. It’s a wonderful world where even your mistakes lead you to greater connections with the rest of the universe.
This is a guru-act. You have to be Buddha-like to pull it off. You have to truly have understood your own mistake so well that it loses its personal nature. Even if it was an intentional act, you must see your act as misguided thinking and that it was never about the other person. You must see not only their innocence, but yours as well.
Once it can be seen as an innocent collision at a psychological level we become less focused on the details of the story, instead we simply see innocence and suffering, and as wise and aware people we thrive on finding opportunities to unify with the universe. We feel secure in our own being and we simply want to help–to connect.
So screwing up with someone is like getting a chance to connect spiritually. Except when most people do something they later feel was genuinely out of sync with their spirit, they compound that by feeling regret or guilt for long periods of time. Meanwhile the other person is thinking victim-thoughts. Now we have two people lost in the wrong kind of thinking. Angry ones and guilty ones. Better that thoughts drop in favour of connection.
See clearly. Accept yourself at a low point. Okay, so you did something you wouldn’t repeat. That’s evidence you’re a good person (a “bad” person wouldn’t care). You know it would feel better, it’s just scary. But even if they have a bad reaction, that won’t last long and it won’t leave you worse off than feeling guilty. At least one of you is clear-headed.
Find something you’ve done that you genuinely feel was a mistake. Take that thing, see the form of your innocence in causing it, and then contact them and offer the apology. It’ll be like jumping off the high diving board for the first time at the pool. It feels genuinely scary when you first start doing it, but pretty quickly you learn that the reward for facing that is one of the most liberating feelings you can give yourself.
See if you can give that feeling to yourself today. Pick the person and apology within the hour and make the apology before the end of the day. You can do this. Go for it.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.