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Ep #73: 6 Steps to a Healthy and Meaningful Apology

6 Steps to a Healthy and Meaningful Apology

My beauties, welcome to part two of our mini-series all about apologies. This is such a vital topic to discuss at length, especially if you experience codependent, perfectionist, or people-pleasing tendencies, to start the process of living a truly intentional and peaceful life.

We kicked off last week with why we apologize and the anatomy of an apology. Today, I’ll be laying out the 6 steps to apologizing in a healthy and meaningful way, as well as some of the prep work required before you begin to apologize. Centering the other person who is feeling hurt by our missteps is crucial here, so I’ll be highlighting how you can approach them with compassion without making the common mistake of centering yourself.

Join me this week to discover how to apologize from a place of radical self-love and unconditional love for others. We get to ask ourselves some intense questions in this process, and this is a core part of understanding the need to apologize. You get to pause here and take note of all your feels so that you can come to it with a deeper understanding of your own truth and maintain the relationships in your life that are healthy and fulfilling to you.

If these topics I share with you here on the podcast resonate for you and you want to work with me, you have a chance coming up soon as I open up enrollment for my six-month master class, The Feminist Wellness Guide to Overcoming Codependency. We start in the fall, so click here to complete a short application!

As a special thank you for leaving a rating and review about the show on Apple Podcasts, I have a whole suite of meditations to send your way. They cover boundary setting, inner child healing, and grounding yourself in your body. Click here to get them!


What You’ll Learn:

  • How you might feel when your inner children and ego are trying to protect you.
  • Why thinking of negative feelings as a gift serves me every time.
  • 6 steps to apologizing without harming ourselves or the other person further.
  • The prep work that should come before any apology.
  • Why apologizing can be so loaded for some of us.
  • The role of confusion in a situation where an apology is due.
  • Examples of situations where it is not your responsibility to apologize.
  • How to start the work of understanding the need to apologize.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

 

Welcome, my love, to part two of our mini-series about apologies. We started last week thinking all about why we apologize and about how important it is to reframe apologies not as a sign of weakness or about hurting ourselves.

We apologize to reconnect, to repair, to stitch back together the net of relationships that was made weaker by something we said or did. We apologize because love and peace and understanding feel amazing, and being radically honest with ourselves and those we love about where we’ve F’ed up is so freeing.

To do that, we get to get radically honest with ourselves and we have to center the other person. Their experience, their pain, whether or not we fully understand it. Ready to hear more? Ready to learn how to really truly apologize in a loving way? Keep listening my love, it’s going to be a good one.

You’re listening to Feminist Wellness, the only podcast that combines functional medicine, life coaching, and feminism to teach smart women how to reclaim their power and restore their health! Here’s your host, Nurse Practitioner, Functional Medicine Expert, Herbalist and Life Coach, Victoria Albina.

Hello, hello my love. I hope this finds you doing so well. We are back in Brooklyn. It’s been interesting. We were upstate for a couple of weeks. It was so nice to wake up amongst the trees and as an herbalist and an herb witch, it was just so beautiful to go on these really long walks in the woods and by the creekside and to see so many of my beloved plant allies just everywhere.

From the huge plantain, all the dandelion, artemisia, like, all that mugwort. It was beautiful. St John’s-wort, it was a beautiful time and yeah, I love Brooklyn. I feel so grateful that we have a little roof deck and I get to spend some time outdoors. But I love me some woods. It’s just my truth.

So my darling, we are talking once again about apologies, and we are going to be doing this for a couple more weeks because it’s a really vital thing. So as you know, my passion as a life coach, as a holistic nurse practitioner and a breath worker is to support you, yes you, my lovely you, in connecting inward, to healing your own heart and getting more in touch with yourself, to learn how to connect in with your inner children, to reparent them with so much love and care, and to help yourself each step of the way to be more and more radically, wildly, open-heartedly honest with yourself and that’s one of the central tenants of thought work.

So the thought work we do every day works when you are honest with yourself about the thoughts you’re thinking habitually, on repeat, and the feelings those thoughts are creating for you, the actions you take, and the results in your life. CTFAR. That’s how we do our thought work. Circumstance, thought, feeling, action, result.

And if you are stuck in a thought loop, if you are believing a story that someone else put in your head about you, about them, about the world, it’s hard to get the thought work to work. And in that, it is hard to break free from the grasp of those old tired stories. Those thought habits like codependency, perfectionism, people pleasing that have got written into your brain like coding on a computer.

So you get to rewrite the software in your brain, that code. And all of those thought habits play into finding apologies either super-duper challenging, like really apologizing, or you have that knee-jerk habit. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for existing,” is kind of the energy of what it’s saying.

I want to support you in shifting all of that, my love. Because you’re perfect, you are worthy of love, you are not your productivity, you are not your actions, and you F up because you’re human. You F up and it’s fine. And you need to know what the next step is.

So let’s pause, let’s do what we do. Let’s take some slow deep breaths. Remember, to get into ventral vagal, that part of our nervous system, and if you want to learn more about that, episode 61 is special for you. We take big breaths in which we expand our belly and then have a slow long exhale.

That’s CO2, carbon dioxide moving out is what calms the body. So deep breath in, belly, belly, belly, belly, and long out. Take a couple more of those big deep belly breaths. Hold it for a few seconds and out. So as you continue to do a couple more of those big slow deep breaths, I want to invite you to go into your mind archives, your mind palace, and pull up a recent memory of a time when you were given the invitation to apologize.

Whether you did or didn’t actually do the apologizing is not relevant. So remember that moment. Someone said you messed up, you hurt my feelings, you did a thing. Now, as you keep on breathing, notice what comes up for you in your perfect body in response to that memory of someone saying you need to apologize. It is incumbent upon you to apologize.

What do you feel when you have the thought, “I’m sorry?” Feel into it. Experience it now, my beautiful love, if it is safe for you to do so in your body. To see where there may be tension holding heat, cold, heaviness, vibration, fear. Feel into the feelings.

Let your brain know it can think in just a second. Right now, we are tending to the beautiful physical mammal that is you. Feel into it. Maybe put a hand on your chest and give yourself some love. Often, apologizing or being told we need to, the whole theme brings up feelings like worry, shame, disappointment, resentment, which indicates ego involvement.

If you want to learn more about resentment, episode 64 is all for you. This theme can also bring up annoyance or irritability. And I know if something is making me feel scraggly, like, irritable, it’s touching something deep.

And when our perfect inner childrens – I love pluralizing that word with an S. When our perfect inner childrens and our ego are very defended, when we have learned that protective, beautiful mechanism, we may feel numb. We may feel checked out when we try to check in. Awash in dorsal vagal freeze, immobilization, the bottom of the polyvagal ladder, as it were, which as always, is not something to judge.

Not something to say like, “Ugh, why do I go to there?” It’s just something to notice with love and tenderness because something inside you is protecting you with that reaction. What a gift.

Please note of course, when I say something is a gift, I mean it in my tender heart. I’m a tender animal. And I have come to see all these things as gifts, and I know, I live here too babes, it’s not – it doesn’t feel like a gift in the moment. It feels like F you to that feeling, but trust me, having said F you to that feeling for a long time, it doesn’t get you anywhere.

So instead, I remind myself that it’s a gift and it helps it to feel just 1% less annoying each and every time. It adds up, I promise. So my beauty, without judging, just notice which of these feelings or none of these feelings are present for you.

If it helps and you’re able, jot them down. We’ll come back to this list at the end of the episode. So write them all down, put it aside, we’ll come back. I also want to pause to recognize that there isn’t one neurotypical way to be in this world.

Some of us, our wiring makes us more sensitive than others. Some of us less so. All sorts of folks, but particularly folks on the autism spectrum, which is a broad swath of humanity, may process social interactions and experiences like being asked to apologize or asking for an apology differently than those who do not find themselves on this broad spectrum.

So I just want to mark that, to give love to all of you, whatever your neurology looks like. You are perfect. And what matters is for you, yes you, to get in touch with you and how at this time, you process your feels and to honor the heck out of yourself. Your life, your brain, your neurology, your truth, your everything with wild self-love.

And in that process, you get to ask what is working for me and what do I want to shift towards the goal of living a more peaceful life. It is also vital to recognize that we are all part and parcel of our socialization. Many of us were socialized to be very self-blaming.

Some of us were raised with models of defensiveness or protection at every turn by adults who modeled that for us. Some of us were gaslit as children and younger folks. Go ahead and Google that word if you don’t know about gaslighting. I can do a whole show on it if you please.

And if that was the norm, apologizing can be such a loaded thing. So all of that, plus all of the lessons from our families of origin, society, capitalism, the patriarchy, the cultures we developed in, these things all influence and affect us. We are part of where we were raised.

We are not solitary animals. And we get to get real with the influence of and impacts of all of those lessons on our sense of self and what feels we feel with ease and what feels and circumstances lead our beautiful internal protectors to come to the fore.

And we do all of that with tons of self-love always. Always calling out the multiple systems of oppression that are enacted on our human minds, bodies, and spirits. Now, let’s take a big deep breath and out.

So you think about saying I’m sorry, you feel into it, you have a whole boatload of feels or feel really numb. I want to invite you to reflect on what action you take when you’re all up in those feels. When that vibration, those molecules of emotion are racing around in your body.

I want to invite you to ask yourself what the result of those actions for you in your body and your life are. What’s the result? What do you create for you? Those are some big questions, so let them sit for a minute while we talk a little more about apologies in general.

Like we talked about last week, we people, us human animals, we need each other. Our survival as a species literally depends on our having and maintaining relationships. As always, I believe in the importance of healing our own selves, our own psyches, our own hearts, our own spirits. I believe in that individual healing and it must always be in the context of collective healing.

I talk about this often, my love. So relationships, having, maintaining, living in relationship with other humans, other mammals is built into our nervous system. It’s the main directive of ventral vagal. It’s built into our genetic code and scientists have done all sorts of research with very new to this world humans, also known as babies, who can’t yet speak, but who through non-verbal communication, build relationships with their caregivers whose attention they need to survive.

For babies, as for all of us, making those connections with other humans is everything. And as we get older of course, our relationships become more reciprocal. We’re able to give and take as needed in order to get the care we need and to give the care that our loved ones, friends, even strangers on the street need.

Since most of us live in relationship with other humans, that is most of my listeners don’t live at the back of a cave and no diss if you do. It’s so hot in New York right now and a nice dark cave sounds really very pleasant. But since we live in relationships with other humans on whatever level, we are bound to say or do things that cause harm, that push buttons, that upset feelings.

And when we do, we are in a position to apologize. And to repair the harm that was done so that we can continue to grow and nurture these essential relationships. So the big question, how do we do it? How do we apologize without harming ourselves or the other person further? How do we apologize from a place of radical self-love, radical and unconditional love for others, which of course, I’ve talked about in depth?

Unconditional love was episode 52. How do we show up? Which is a question I love to ask myself. “Vic, how do you want to show up in this moment?” And so, a nerd alert. Enter stage left, science.

Because scientists like to study anything not stapled to the floor, there are studies out there about what makes for an effective apology. What are the ingredients to, in a healthy and meaningful way, apologize? I have, of course, given this my own little spin and we’ll talk through these steps which are one, express your intent to apologize.

Two, explain briefly what went wrong. Like what you’re hearing the other person say went wrong. Three, take responsibility. Four, express your sorrow, apology, regret. This is the, oh man, I did an oopsie part. Five, offer a way to repair the harm. And six, ask if the person is ready to forgive you or what else they may need.

Now, there is some prep work to do, my nerds, for any good apology, which is to get clear on why you are apologizing. And then there’s a seventh step that’s not technically part of the apology but is super important. So step seven, after you’ve gotten clear about why you are apologizing and gone through the six steps I mentioned, your job is to stop talking.

Like entirely, just stop. Hush your little buttons. Now it’s your turn to listen with love and if you are able to remember your polyvagal theory, to smile, but sincerely. Not a BS smile, my babies. To give a sincere, loving smile, and if it is within your neurology to do so, to try to look the other person in the eye and express your intent to be ventral vagal. To be that safe and connected person for them, which you may not be reciprocal.

They may not be ready for that, but you can show up with that energy. So let’s back up and start with the prep work that should come before any apology. That work involves getting clear with yourself about the why of your apology.

And this is when we get to ask ourselves some intense questions. Are you apologizing to be manipulative? Are you apologizing to try to get the other person to think something about you? Like that you’re a good person? Are you apologizing to try to get them to do something?

Look at that. Are you apologizing with a goal in the end, other than to show up with love? If so, take a beat, my darling. Take a breath, excuse yourself from the room. Let the other person know I need to run to the bathroom, I’ll be right back, or whatever works for you. Don’t lie. If you say you’re going to the bathroom, go to the bathroom and do some thought work about why you want to apologize.

Next, get clear with the why of why the apology is being asked for. Meaning, ask yourself, what did I do or say that was out of line or that missed the mark? If you can’t clearly identify what you did to cause harm or what you were pretty sure caused harm, keep thinking.

If we go into an apology confused, we so easily lose our center and things can end up messier than they were before. And remember, confusion is a protective mechanism your brain offers you to keep you from getting clear, and thus, to attempt to keep you from getting overwhelmed, hurt, upset, et cetera, to keep you from beating yourself up about whatever your brain is clouding you from seeing.

Confusion is also a stress and a trauma response so be gentle and loving with yourself if you feel overwhelmed or confused when someone asks you for an apology. Again, go take a few minutes to write out what happened and to look for the facts.

We’ve talked about this before because I love the verb of facting. So fact it out. Write down the facts. I walked into the room, I said, “Hey, are you ready to go?” She said, “What are you doing?” Whatever it is. Facting it out is a way to center and ground ourselves and to find the clarity we need, despite your brain’s insistence that you are confused.

That’s often a loving cover up job. And I know you can fact and breathe through it. Through that process, you can see if there is something real in the apology request. Like someone saying your words hurt their feelings, and through their point of view and their understanding and framework of the world, your words hurt their feelings.

And you can see that their feelings are hurt, and you can focus on that. Because my darling, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, right? And like, whatever, we’re all humans. Maybe you did in that moment. Maybe you jabbed because you were feeling defensive, you were feeling your back up against the wall and so you jabbed.

Oh man, you get to apologize for that too. Look for the truth and see what you find. And it’s also worth pausing here to make note that it is worth considering the relationship itself in these challenging moments around apologizing.

And to look at not just your own thought habit and your own behavioral patterns, but if the relationship is not a healthy one, if you are being accused with things that don’t make sense, and if your confusion is stemming from that, if you’re being gaslighted, someone’s trying to convince you that your reality is not actually real, to attempt to make you feel crazy, and I’m using that word crazy because that is the energy of what they’re trying to do.

I’m not in the ableist, stigmatizing mental health way, but like, that’s what gaslighting is way. We may not need to apologize for what we’re being told we did if it’s not real. For example, you are not cheating on your spouse, but they consistently accuse you of canoodling with a coworker.

You’re just literally not and they are unwilling or unable to hear you time after time. They continue to bring this up, it’s this accusation, and they expect an apology. There, my love, there is other work to do on that relationship, but it is not your responsibility to apologize for something you are literally not doing.

This is where pushing aside that veil of confusion and facting it out can be so helpful. What is this person saying I did? Did I do that thing? Is there a kernel of truth? Can I see what is real here? They are saying their feelings are hurt, I can see their feelings are hurt, oh man, I didn’t – I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I can apologize for that.

So that’s that work. To tease that apart. And for so many of us socialized as, raised as girls and women, we have been taught to put our pretty heads down and apologize in order to stay likable, even if it means tolerating abuse or unkindness. And that can be doubly so for BIPOC folks. All sorts of folks who are pushed to the margins by white supremacy.

Those messages are in the well water and make the already complicated task of apologizing all the more complicated. As we work together today, thinking through instances when we have been asked to apologize, I invite you to hold yourself gently and with love like a baby bird.

Our focus here is on times when you have really needed to apologize for real harm. Like that’s going to be our focus because this topic is enormous. And while we’ll do this over the course of many weeks, we got to start somewhere.

So focus on a time when you’ve needed to actually apologize for real harm, and it can be a tiny one to guide you through these exercises, a time when you realized, oh yeah, I really put my foot in it, I really F’ed that up. And sometimes for brains, it’s easier to start with things that sort of feel less significant.

Maybe don’t start with, oh, that time I accidentally murdered all those people. Darling, your brain is going to put up a lot of resistance there. But maybe start with the time you took your coworker’s pen without meaning to and they were really upset and there was this whole story for them, how they got it from their grandpa and he’s dead. And you’re like, oh god, I grabbed a pen.

Or a time when you forgot to tip at your favorite bar or restaurant and you want to apologize and make good on that tip. So again, these things don’t have to be big things. Just real things that really matter. And you get to let those experiences of wanting to apologize, needing to apologize be the thing you focus on during the rest of this show.

Moments where you can tap into that feeling of that desire to apologize and let that be your touch stone. Not a time when someone made a false accusation or was trying to gaslight you. That’s not what we’re working through today, my love.

And with all this facting and all this looking at what’s real, sometimes when we’re asked to apologize, we may feel confused about what we did wrong. And that’s when you get to breathe, connect inward, to ask yourself what the deal is, to get really honest with your perfect self.

So in our work today, we’re going to talk about how to apologize in healthy, meaningful relationships. And my love, you and only you define healthy in your own life. Relationships where the other person is willing to meet us halfway with some generosity of spirits. Relationships that bring us love and joy.

We are going to think then about what we can do when what we have said or done throws things off, when someone else has feelings. I would also invite you to bring to mind examples from your life of people with whom you have or have had a healthy functional relationship.

It could be a coworker, a parent, a grandparent, a character on the TV, your hairdresser, a sibling, even a loved one who has passed away but their memory brings you peace. Anyone with whom you feel safe and cared for.

For many of us, the reality may be that these relationships are few and far between. My beauty, if you are in an abusive relationship or still recovering from one, it can be nearly impossible to imagine apologizing without tearing yourself apart in the process.

As I have before, we’ll do again, I’ll put some resources in the show notes at victoriaalbina.com/72. The number of this episode, for what to do if you are in an abusive relationship as well, in case you need them, my dear one.

Remember that this time we have together today is a time for working gently to heal ourselves and to show up with love and honesty for ourselves and others. So when you know what you said or did caused harm to someone else, and are confident enough to address the other person or can at least identify the truth in what they’re saying, for example, that they are upset in response to your words, you can start with step one, expressing your intent to apologize.

Now, in two weeks we’ll talk more about language shifts, so make sure you’re subscribed to the show so you don’t miss a thing. But I’ll give you a sneak preview. Instead of always leading with, “I’m sorry that I did x, y, z,” insert misstep here. Consider, “I want to apologize for my misstep.”

Can you feel the difference? When we say I’m sorry, we are labeling ourselves and centering our feelings. There is a time and place to center your own feelings, my beauty. I love it when you do that, but an apology is not the time or the place.

I’m sorry is what we say when a friend’s cousin passes away or when we bump into a stranger on the subway platform. Neither of those situations requires a full on apology because I’m assuming we had nothing to do with the former, and the latter is one of those accidents of daily life that occur often enough that a quick, “Oh, I’m sorry,” or, “Excuse me,” does the trick.

When we say to someone whom we have hurt, “I want to apologize,” we are stating an intention and naming an action that we plan to take. We haven’t brought our inner landscape to the table, which is a good thing. Yes baby, feel your feels. But when we are given the opportunity to apologize, we need to be there for the other person’s feels.

Step two, explain briefly what went wrong, and by briefly, I mean oh so briefly. When we go into long-winded explanations of what happened and how we didn’t mean to and it was just because of this and that and the other, we are putting ourselves and our experience in the spotlight.

The person who experienced the hurt gets the spotlight, my pet, so keep it short. Here’s an example. My partner is gender non-binary trans, and they use they, them pronouns. They have a colleague who chronically misgenders them, calling them a pronoun which is not theirs.

Recently, my partner spoke with this colleague about it and this human’s response was to say things like, “Well, it’s just new to me and I don’t even know how to do it. It’s like, not natural in my mouth to call someone they-them, and you know, I have a gay uncle so it’s not like I don’t get it. I mean, I get it and it’s so hard for me. Can’t you see how it’s hard for me?”

That pseudo apology put her in the center of the hurt and made it all about her, thus putting my partner in the position, per their socialization, to say, “It’s okay really. You’re trying. And while you’re hurting me and you’re confusing gender and sexuality, it’s okay I guess.”

It put my partner in the place of feeling that need, that want inside. It’s not a need. It’s a want to attend to that person’s fragility. Because they’ve centered themselves. What if instead the colleague had started with our two first steps?

Maybe she could have said something like, “Thank you for reminding me. I want to apologize. I’ve been misgendering you and I’ll do better.” Now, the person who has harmed has stated their intention, briefly described what happened, and has gotten out of the way.

The person who experienced the harm gets center stage and then we, the apologizer, can move on to step three. Take responsibility. This one can be complicated because sometimes around this paying the apology, we’re thinking about all the things the other person did wrong and the laundry list of things they need to apologize for.

That is, our defensiveness is up. And that voice, my love, is generally our ego. That oh so necessary part of us that helps us develop as individuals and protect our integrity, the same part that does not suffer injury well and that gets all riled up and attacks when threatens because that’s its job. And it loves you and it’s protecting you at a time when loving you doesn’t mean protecting you with defensiveness or pushing back.

Here then is when we breathe. Really emphasizing the exhale like we do, and letting it all go. A few simple words like I made a mistake or I want to take responsibility for what I did or said can make all the difference in helping the person to whom you are apologizing open up to hearing you and to trusting you again.

And of course, we’ll be situating this whole framework in polyvagal theory and your beautiful nervous system in just a couple more episodes. So when you say these things, your ego will start to act up. It will want to say a thousand things to make it not my fault.

And here, you breathe again because fault is another word you get to get rid of, unless you’re talking about a geological formation. I made a science joke. Like a fault line, get it? You can tell a joke is really good because you feel that internal need to explain it.

No but seriously, my nerds, we take responsibility. We show that we are able to respond to the harm done by our words or actions, the harm that person is feeling, even if you see the world through the framework of the thought work protocol and you are in your emotional adulthood, not blaming others for your thoughts and feels. That’s irrelevant.

No stories, no excuses, no talking about your intention. Keep it simple. Step four is next, and this is where we express our sorrow or regret. Deep breaths can help here too as we get in touch with our own feelings and express them to the other person.

Note that this is not centering our feelings. We aren’t making this all about us by expressing how we feel about our words or actions causing harm. Let’s go back to the example from before.

If my partner’s coworker had said, “Thank you for reminding me. I want to apologize, I’ve been misgendering you,” with these last two steps, they could add on something like, “I want to take responsibility for what I’ve done. I’m sorry,” as in feeling sorrow, “that I did that.” So simple. So clear. So meaningful to the person who has been harmed, who is expressing harm.

Of course, as we all know, the vast majority of face to face communications is done non-verbally. Your posture, facial expressions, and vibe, or as we say in Spanish, your onda, make a huge difference here. Remember polyvagal. When you’re expressing ventral vagal, you’re telling someone with that big smile, with eye contact, I am safe, I am in empathy, I am in feeling with you.

These words can sound robotic and false, or true and sincere. And that my friends will depend on you and in part, how ready you are to apologize. To see the harm and hurt through someone else’s eyes. Once you’ve gone through these steps, it’s time to remember number five. Offer a way to repair the harm.

Sometimes we may not be sure what we can do to repair the harm that we have caused and that’s okay. Even expressing that can help the other person. The person feeling hurt, to know that you see and value them in their pain.

Saying, “I want to do what I can to fix this and then to do better in the future,” shows that you are committed to the relationship, to your own integrity, the integrity of the energy between you and if needed, you will adjust your behavior going forward.

In the case of my partner being misgendered, the clear way to repair the harm would be to do better at using the correct pronouns and sometimes the harm is harder to parse out. And the repair harder to put our finger on.

And of course, my beauty, I’ll talk about that a little later on. So we have one, expressed our intent to apologize. Two, explained briefly what went wrong. Three, taken responsibility. Four, expressed regret, sorrow, whatever feeling we have that shows that we are connecting in with someone else being hurt, being tender, feeling wounded.

And five, we have offered a way to repair the harm. I will do better. And now we get to do step six, to ask if the person is ready to forgive us, or if they need to hear more. Notice, we are asking them if they are ready. Not asking them if they can.

Maybe they can in a week but not now. And the last thing that someone feeling tender needs is pressure. My sister, Eugenia, has taught elementary school for the past nine years. She’s a champion. And when she first started facilitating restorative conversations with kids, she noticed that so many of the students who were hurt were quick to say, “It’s okay,” when asked for forgiveness.

The conversation might go, “I’m sorry I punched you in the head during math class. It’s just that I really didn’t like how you looked at me. I’m sorry.” And the kid with the ice pack would immediately say, “It’s okay.” Like that answer was hardwired in.

What my sister did in all her brilliance was to start teaching kids to either say I forgive you, if they are ready to forgive, or to say thank you for apologizing if they aren’t really ready and if things are not yet okay in their own internal environment. Something so challenging for those of us raised in and living with codependency, perfectionist thinking, and particularly, people pleasing.

We want to please the person who harmed us more than we want to please ourselves. When we, the one asking for forgiveness, ask the person whom we’ve harmed whether we meant to harm them or not, if they are ready to forgive us, we need to be prepared for them to say, “I’m still really hurt. While I appreciate your apology, I need a little time.”

We need to know on a deep level that if they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready. And it’s now our job to thank them for their time, perhaps reiterate that we love and care about them, and give them space. They may be feeling all sorts of things and our hovering is unlikely to help.

If we have with sincerity and good intent gone through these apology steps, we can walk away for now knowing that we did what we could and we showed up with love. Of course, our work isn’t done. Now we need to make the changes we articulated or search further if we aren’t sure what those changes or remedies would be.

Remember that when we talk about making amends, we are talking about a change we will make, about how we will amend our behavior going forward. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do to remedy what has happened like the kid with the goose egg on the side of her head in math class who can’t have that injury magically taken away.

But we can adjust how we behave going forward, like by being super mindful about using the correct pronouns for people in our orbits. Anyone feeling overwhelmed out there? My beauty, you are not alone. Making amends, apologizing can for some of us who are prone to self-harming thoughts or behaviors, feel like a referendum on who we are as people on some deep level.

If only I had done x, y, z better, I wouldn’t need to apologize or make this change. “Ugh, I should have known better,” goes the internal story. Alas, if you are a human being living a human life, my beauty, you will mess up. I do it all the time. You will say things that hurt others, you will need to apologize, you will be given the opportunity and the gift of getting to apologize.

And then you have the opportunity to reflect on your thought habits. Your words, feelings, actions, and to see if and where you want to make a change. You get the chance to sit with someone you care about and perhaps to rethink the rules of your relationship.

Maybe silly sarcastic jokes used to crack your roommate up but they’ve gone through some changes of their own and now those comments just hurt. You get to learn that. And then to know that. And you get to grow and change in your relationship with that.

Notice that maybe nobody did anything wrong. Maybe nobody has blame to shoulder. What we have are two people who are rewriting the rules of engagement together in this example and keeping the relationship fresh, healthy, functional, and mutual beneficial.

Will there be times when the ask for change is more than you can imagine? Of course. The universe likes to keep things interesting so there will be times when what the other person is asking for feels like too much, and that’s okay. Sit with it. Breathe into the request and see what you can accommodate.

Once you have offered up a sincere apology by expressing your intent to apologize, explaining what went wrong, taking responsibility, express your sorrow or regret, offering a way to repair the harm, and asking if the person is ready to forgive you, you have set the groundwork for further conversation.

You get to set limits and boundaries and to listen to someone else’s limits and boundaries. And it may be what the other person needs from you just isn’t going to work. And then you can rethink the relationship and if it’s healthy and fulfilling for you and where you are on your path.

Now, at the beginning of this episode, I asked you to think about or write down the feels that come up for you when you think about apologizing. Check in with that list and see how you are feeling now. Perhaps less scared and more empowered. Perhaps less worried and more connected.

When we apologize from a place of sincere humility and vulnerability, without making it all about us and our feels, we can find strength and can learn so much. Not just about ourselves, but about the other person and the relationship too.

My beauty, I hope this has been supportive for you. Please head on over to Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your shows and subscribe to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. When you subscribe, rate, and review, it helps to increase the visibility of the show to people searching for this kind of support.

So please, if you’re enjoying the show, add your voice by subscribing, rating, and reviewing on Apple Podcasts. And because I love you, I’ve made you a present to say thank you. Head on over to victoriaalbina.com/freemeditationspodcast and there you’ll get the instructions you need to subscribe, rate, and review the show.

And then honor system, you just put your name and email in and you get your free meditations sent right to your email as my way of saying thank you for helping to get the show in front of more listeners, which is my dream to be of support to more and more humans of the world round.

Alright my beauty, this has been really special. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to talk about apologizing. It was something I was not great at for most of my life because codependency, perfectionism, and people pleasing. And it’s a skill that has served me so well.

Oh, and my beauties, I should mention my master class. We are going live with the next round of the master class in late September of 2020. So head on over to victoriaalbina.com/masterclass. Keeping it simple. To learn more about it and to fill out the really quick sweet little application that’s there so you can get on my calendar.

Alright my beauties, I’m so excited to keep talking with you about this. Let’s take a nice big deep breath in and out. Remember, you are safe, you are held, you are loved. And when one of us heals, we help heal the world. Be well, I’ll talk to you soon.

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of Feminist Wellness. If you like what you’ve heard, head to VictoriaAlbina.com to learn more.

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Victoria Albina

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH is a licensed and board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, herbalist and life coach, with 20 years experience in health and wellness. She trained at the University of California, San Francisco, and holds a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and a bachelors from Oberlin College. She comes to this work having been a patient herself, and having healed from a lifetime of IBS, GERD, SIBO, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

She is passionate about her work, and loves supporting patients in a truly holistic way - body, mind, heart and spirit. A native of Mar del Plata, Argentina, she grew up in the great state of Rhode Island, and lives in NYC with her partner. A brown dog named Frankie Bacon has her heart, and she lives for steak and a good dark chocolate.

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