“Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” ~ Aldous Huxley ~
I can only do my best in any given situation, depending on my level of awareness. I can often drift into unconsciousness and not even notice I have caused harm. If I am paying attention, however, I can always sense when I’ve said or done something that causes someone discomfort.
It is then that I go inside and analyze my motivation for whatever I said or did. Was it ego motivated or sincerely from a place of wanting to help? If my motivation was sincere, I then look at my delivery. Was it harsh or lacking compassion? If it was, or if I was coming from a place of ego, then I know that an amends is necessary.
It is important to be clear about what I regret before I offer an amends. We do not crawl or grovel before anyone. That is not a sign of sincerity or humility, but an act of manipulation. It says, “I have done this terrible thing, but look how sorry I am. That must mean I am really a good person.” It puts others in the awkward position of having to validate you. Begging for forgiveness places all the attention on you and discounts the other person entirely. It is a performance of the ego.
True regret for a mistake is simply an acknowledgment of the act from a place of awareness, then an amends based on that awareness. This process always benefits me more than whomever I make an amends to because it keeps me conscious and acutely aware of the energy I am putting out. It is also an incredible humility builder. The best part is that it releases me from the shame spiral.
When used correctly, there is great power in the words, “I’m sorry.”