Can you apologize? It would seem the simplest practice in the world, but in fact it is more complicated than expected, and what should be an attempt to make amends only risks worsening the situation further.
But what does it really mean to say “sorry”? If we are entering the subway and accidentally bump into a person, we instantly turn around and say “sorry”. In that brief moment that little word is enough for both of us, and we can get on with our day.
Ma really apologizing often involves more complicated situations than a little passing bump. Saying that magic word is no longer enough to make all resentment disappear. Before apologizing, we should learn to apologize, even more with our actions and gestures than through words. It is not a service or a sop, much less a plaster to be placed on the open wound so as not to see it.
To apologize, we need to ask ourselves a fundamental question: did we really understand the other person? What have we done? Why did she feel hurt? All of this cannot happen if we don’t listen. Apologizing also and above all requires removing any veil of superiority off us, and questioning ourselves together and towards the other person. If we really fail to grasp the reasons and get to the heart of the problem, let’s take action: let’s look for the other, ask questions, open our ears. Accepting our apologies seems first of all an opportunity to come out clean and respectable in the eyes of others, but in human relationships competing with who is more “innocent” does not lead to any meeting point: we accept that we have misjudged, that we have made a mistake even with the best of intentions, let us openly confront the other person without trying to get out of it unscathed from the first minute.
Depending on the case, perhaps apologizing may not be enough, but if the other person feels truly listened to and welcomed in his displeasure, without manipulating or shifting the attention entirely to us, we can make a connection in order to show each other’s vulnerabilities and to be able to understand each other. Before accusing or pouring out one’s idiosyncrasies, let’s explain to the other how we felt or how that specific situation made us feel: without pouring out the blame, but showing the respective weaknesses, in an honest and mature way.
Without all this, “Sorry!” it is just a little word like a thousand others, empty and devoid of power.