For years I taught a wonderful program called Dare to Care – Radical Truth with Compassion. You can buy the mini book on this here for $10.
If we are to ever really connect with another human, or indeed living thing…then the connection is established heart to heart, or gut to gut, but rarely if ever head to head. To say it differently, connection has feeling. You have to feel something. And in order to elicit feeling, you need to show up as a feeling being.
I can converse with you head to head about a spread sheet, or to give directions, or to pay for service. This is a transactional relationship. But to connect, to show up fully, I do need to bring my heart and gut…my feelings and intuition.
From my years on earth I do believe that I have not met a single human who does not long for more human to human, or living thing to living thing..connection. We long for connection. To be seen. To be seen as we are and accepted and loved for the truth of our essence.
During the workshop I dared people to recall the most significant conversations of their lives…the ones that matter the most…and to check that these conversations were ones where feelings and emotion were shared. These feelings could have been feelings of love, passion, anger, frustration, pain…to assign the feelings a categorisation of positive or negative is not important.
Great human connection is about feeling, emotion and vulnerability. This is just what is true.
Therefore to apologise…and to really mean it, you have to bring your whole self, including your feelings, to the apology. Otherwise it is just words. And words without emotion are easy for anyone to do. But they mean nothing.
To say you are sorry, and to really mean it, is not something one can state in a throw away line. It is an opening up, an admission of fault, a space created to be fully human, less than perfect, vulnerable, able to make mistakes…all the things we humans fear so much to be seen as having.
The art of the apology is hard to do…because in bringing our whole imperfectly perfect self to the apology, we expose both the beauty and our shame of who we are. Yet in so doing, we also open ourselves to be seen fully, which is one of our deepest longings.
And here in lies the paradox and the liberty. The act of apology itself will enable relationships to heal and flourish. To move to a dimension where the relationship can become real, maybe even for the first time.
And for those who have hardened their hearts to rebuke a deeply felt apology gifted to them, then your work is on breaking the walls to years of hurt…which…paradoxically, also begins with apology.
The art of apology opens us to the art of being fully human. One cannot exist without the other.