Everyday Alchemy: Discover the Extraordinary in Every Moment

Alchemy:(n.) The power or process of transforming something common into something extraordinary. Hi! I'm Sarah Robinson, Business Coach and Resident Alchemist. Welcome to my Blog. My mission is to bring the powerful magic of Everyday Alchemy into the daily lives of Life Adventurers everywhere (especially those with an entrepenurial bent!). Let me know how this resonates with you-I am fascinated! Email me: sarah@everydayalchemy.com. Visit my website at http://www.everydayalchemy.com/

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Anatomy of an Apology

No one ever taught me how to apologize. I know that sounds silly, but it is a skill that does not come easily to me. For a long time I thought mumbling "sorry" under my breath was as good an apology as anyone could expect from me. And, I only did that under extreme duress.

These days when accepting responsibility for the harm we do others is not exactly in vogue (witness Enron among others), making a heart-felt apology can feel alot like leaving yourself open to a shark attack. What I now know, though, is that mastering this skill is one of the single greatest things I can do to foster the growth of my own integrity. It also lays the foundation for healing and for magic in any relationship. Apologizing is good for me and I can get better at it with practice.

So, how do we make a sincere apology? I learned these four steps:

1. Own what you did.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you."

2. Acknowledge it's likely impact.
"You probably feel pretty hurt by what I did."

3. State what you intend to do next time to keep from repeating your mistake.
"Next time I feel angry enough to yell, I will take a walk around the block instead."

4. Ask for forgiveness.
"Will you forgive me?"

Here's the tricky part of that last step. We must be prepared to live with a yes or no answer. Though we hope to be forgiven, we are the ones who screwed up and we can't force the other person to respond a certain way. If we go into an apology expecting a certain outcome, we are not apologizing-we are manipulating.

The best part about apologizing is that, even though I am scared to death while I am doing it, I feel so much lighter after I've done it. I may still wish I hadn't screwed up in the first place, but cleaning up a mess I made is the next best thing. It's all about taking responsibility for myself.

So, think of someone you've harmed. Write out your apology based on the above four steps. Muster your courage and make your apology. Let me know how it goes-I am intensely interested!

Have a magical day!