Reflection, self-evaluation, and the opportunity for apology and change. I have always loved the message behind Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the period in between. In my humble opinion, it’s important for everyone to take the time to ask:
Mirror, mirror in my soul, have I spent this year being a bit of a troll?
Reflection can be an uncomfortable process – confronting the parts of yourself you are not so proud of and owning up to them is no easy task. We are often told we are supposed to use this time of the year to apologise, and to ask forgiveness, so when I was asked to write this blog post I thought that I would try to delve a little deeper into the concept of apologies.
I think there are a lot of difficult apologies that we avoid. When we argue (and let’s be honest we’re British so it’s 90% passive aggression), we are so keen to absolve ourselves from responsibility, and our role in perpetuating the conflict, and so quick to point out how someone else’s behaviour was what caused it all. Our ego is determined to protect us from fault. Sometimes we have so much focus on who is “right” and who is “wrong”, and who is to blame, when it may be more helpful to be asking ourselves different questions.
On the flip side, anyone who has spent any time in the UK will have heard the word “sorry” at least a dozen times a day. I think that there’s a lot that we all apologise for, particularly those of us socialised as women, that we really don’t need to. We apologise for taking up space, physically and conversationally. We apologise when we ask for help. We apologise for not yet knowing something. We apologise walking down the street. Sometimes it seems we apologise for simply existing.
So what actually requires an apology then? We waste so many apologies on things that we don’t need to be sorry for, and then we don’t have any left for the things we do. I think we need to ask ourselves what actually causes harm.
There are two parts to this puzzle of apology; the apology itself, and the forgiveness granted. They do not always come together – nor do they need each other to exist. We have the power to extend both, and I think it would do us all a world of good to respond to internal conflict and external conflict, with a choice of extending an apology or extending forgiveness.
When it comes to apologising, it’s important we remember that every single one of us is flawed, and does things that require an apology. Our intentions may have been great, but the outcome still may have caused harm, and apologising can be a really healthy way to process guilt or shame, and then release it. It’s normal to have faults.
With forgiveness, I think we need to forgive ourselves for a lot of the things we beat ourselves up over, and remember we’re all imperfect humans trying our best. In terms of forgiving others, I think that is deeply connected to forgiving ourselves. We permit fault. We accept flaws. Not only this, but I am always reminded of a quote from the Buddha that warns of the danger to oneself from not forgiving…
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
On that note, I hope you all go into 5781 with the courage to apologise and the willingness to forgive! You’re trying your best — it’s all a masa.
Lots of love,
Big Bad Bex xox