Apologising for wrong doing and acknowledging people for the part they played in my life have to be two of the most powerful exercises I have done to date.
If done properly they bring about massive change, both for myself, as the person making the apology or acknowledgement and for the person on the receiving end.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Oh, he’ll never change” and some people choose not to.
Some people choose to repeat lessons over and over until they are proficient at every detail; until the way of being is so ingrained in their character that it gets carved on there gravestone.
I however choose to change. I also choose to let people know I can and have changed. These exercises, for me, are one way to continue to do that.
If you try this out, it should be noted the sole purpose of these exercises is to give something to the person you are apologising to or acknowledging.
The focus of the exercise should never be having a life changing experience, nor should it be “I am great, look at me and everything I have, poor pitiful little you, let me throw you a bone”.
While it would be nice to have “Mark, led a life of continuous change” carved on my grave stone, I think I would like to be remembered more for the little joys I gave to others. I don’t mean that in an egotistical way either.
We ALL have so much to give and yet the human condition is almost always to ask “whats in it for me”?
And I want to be remembered by people as someone who tinkered with the mechanism of life, got at how it worked, then lived by the principles of that discovery.
Life is really simple.
The wise have been telling me this for years!
We come into contact with people, interact with them, then leave that interaction complete, or not.
In our earlier life, we walk away from a lot of situations, with a lot of unfinished business.
As life goes on we think it doesn’t matter. Let bygones be bygones, it’s all water under the bridge.
But is it?
Out of the blue, suddenly an old face pops into our mind.
If it doesnt matter, then why is the situation floating around our consciousness?
My pal Scott haunted me for years. Eventually we met up in Vegas. Now we are MSN buddies. He probably doesn’t realise he was one of my best friends at school and I treated him horribly when he went back to Canada.
Call me a maniac, stalky or weird. I have tracked down a few school buddies and contacted them and said “hey, I am really sorry I did that”.
They almost always say something along the lines of “Well okay Mark, if it makes you feel better to tell me then go ahead, but I had forgotten all about it”.
People find it highly unusual because it doesn’t fit their social rules.
What if social rules are wrong?
Take a look for yourself.
What are YOUR core values?
What difference would it make to you if someone apologised to you?
Now take that idea on and treat the world the way you would like it to treat you.
I know where in life I have left something incomplete, either by wronging the person or not giving an acknowledgement where it was due.
It’s not that it makes me feel better to tell them now either.
I don’t walk away with a sudden weight lifted from my shoulders.
It is the acknowledgement, caring and giving of value to the event that matters (to me).
I have no real idea if they felt wronged or not or for how long.
I now have enough life experience to know if what I did to them happened to me, I would not have reacted well.
So it is more about saying “I recognise that what I did is not in line with the person I am now and I have learned something from you”.
It is a paying of respects to one of life’s lessons.
It invariably makes me look stupid, even a bit of a simpleton, occasionally psychologically unhinged.
However life experience has shown me, people will come back later and say “you know what you said to me, it made a difference”.
And life’s other experiences tell me people will always think I am a bit weird till they get to know me.
And when I see them pull that familiar “what planet is this guy on face” I can have a bit of a chuckle and know I’ve just made a new friend.
See you on the other side of the looking glass,