The power of an apology

At the weekend someone was very rude to me. I was abrupt in return, telling him not to be so cheeky. He walked off and I was left with a really heavy feeling.

The person in question was out of line, no doubt about that. He had actually grabbed me by the arm outside my workplace and spoke very nastily to me. However, I know that this person has some mental health issues and can often come across as aggressive when they probably don’t mean to. Of course my feelings were hurt, but I was also unpleasant in return.

All day, the incident bothered me. I thought about how hard life is already for this person. He is lonely and misunderstood and didn’t really need to hear harsh words from me. Life is tough enough. Over the weekend it played on my mind a lot. I felt so guilty. I had been wrong in my response. I had made a bad choice.

So, yesterday, I was lucky enough that our paths just happened to cross once again. Before he had a chance to say anything, I apologised for being rude and said I was so sorry if I caused him any hurt. He just stared at me. I wasn’t sure what the response would be.

Then, he gave me the biggest hug and told me I was a really lovely person. The heaviness lifted from me right there and then .

Today I’ve been thinking about how powerful the word ‘sorry’ is. Something so small, yet so significant, so huge to someone else when they hear it. It cost me nothing to say it, yet it meant the world to someone. It opened up a whole conversation about how often this person is hurt with words from others because people think he is drunk when in fact he slurs his words due to mental health issues. He doesn’t always express himself appropriately, because he knows no different. It’s not his fault.

The chat we had didn’t last long but it was good. He was so grateful to hear an apology and I was so pleased to get the opportunity to offer it as well as getting a little time to try and understand someone a little better. Everyone is on their own journey in life and for a brief moment I was able to share in this person’s.

It was my instinct to reply to rudeness with rudeness, however, I wonder what the world would look like if we tried to respond to everyone with kindness and gentleness? Even when we feel we have been wronged, how things would change if we reacted with humility and patience and tried to show empathy.  And, when we do get it wrong, saying sorry to put things right.

 

 

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