The Value of Being Able to Say “I’m Sorry”

Hoʻoponopono

The Polynesian method for reconciliation and forgiveness

This poster is something I learned in Reiki.  A method, and words, when heartfelt, to resolve the damage we do to each other through our actions and words.

So many people are unable to apologize, and to make amends.  My ex, for example, was never able to acknowledge damage he did to me, or our relationship.  I have often thought since that he had borderline personality disorder, as he was unable to feel empathy at all.  He could never understand anyone’s pain except his own.  and he could not apologize.  It was a large contributor to our subsequent divorce.

A long time ago i heard about the 4-R method for dealing with having hurt someone, intentionally or not. It is quite similar to the Polynesian method of Hoʻoponopono.

1. The first R is for Recognition.  One has to recognize that their actions, or words, have caused another pain.

2. The second R is for Remorse.  Remorse is sincerely feeling bad that you caused someone pain.

3. The third R is or Regret.  Regretting your actions, or words, that caused the pain.  It is different from remorse.  Remorse is about the pain caused.  Regret is about the thing that caused the pain.

4. The fourth R is Repair.  Repair of the damage done.  It starts with an apology, a heart felt, unconditional apology. One that doesn’t involve excuses, buts, or extenuating circumstances.  Just a straight-forward, “I’m so sorry I hurt you.”

One night when my ex falsely accused our son of something heinous, he apologized the next day…but he apologized for being tired.  He didn’t apologize for his words and actions that had us all up all night.  I simply told him, “Tired is not what you did wrong.”  But he couldn’t apologize for his words that devastated my son, or kept me up all  night trying to calm my son down, who couldn’t believe that his father accused him.

He knew he had done wrong.  But he couldn’t face it.  I suppose it went back to his childhood, where if he did something wrong he got the crap beaten out of him.  And often it wasn’t he that did the wrong thing, but he got the beating anyway.  That’s regrettable, that’s sad for him…but until it’s acknowledged, and that baggage worked through, it is just a cycle that continues.  Even if he didn’t beat our son, he was teaching him, by his own actions, not to be accountable for his actions.  Teaching him that other’s feelings didn’t matter.  Teaching him that the only thing that mattered was that his own ego was in tact, and not bruised by his actions, or words that came out of  his mouth.

The saddest part is that his inability to feel my son’s pain, or mine, or anyone else’s, has isolated him.  He is alone, no one in his family wants to be around him, because it is a trait that carries to every one, no one feels safe around him . He has no relationship with his son.  My son feels he has no father.  I used to tell my ex, “You’re going to die old, sick and all alone, because you push away the people that love you.”  And that’s what has happened.

“I’m sorry” are two beautiful words.  They build a bridge between two people, a bridge that can be crossed to find common ground.  It comes from love…from the soul, not the ego.  An ego given free reign, without the soul’s love and compassion, is really, in my estimation, the cause of all ill in the world.  People’s egos make them believe that their emotions, their beliefs, their pain, is far deeper than anyone else’s, and that everyone else’s is secondary to theirs.

So, I’ve tried to live by the 4 R’s.  It’s one reason I wrote yesterday’s blog, Lucky 7’s.  I realized I had been unfair to S, and wanted to repair that.  Not that anything I said before was not true, just that it was unbalanced, and putting it on here hurt him.  It’s what I have taught my son in the years since we both left his father, and I think he gets it now.

But we are still done, I don’t expect to be writing much more about him.  We just can’t find common ground on many important subjects.  Apologies being one of them.

Apologies are good for the soul.  I wish my ex had been able to see that.