Brendon Burchard

How to Say, “I’m Sorry.”

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I believe that one of the great marks of personal power and spiritual power is the ability to apologize and to forgive.

Often those things are seen, for some weird odd reason, as ‘weak’ things. “Oh well, I don’t want to apologize to her because that will make me look weak.” Or, “I’m not going to forgive him because if I forgive him then that gives him the power.”

People have been thinking about apology and forgiveness in the wrong ways for so long—that’s why we have so many people who are pent up, angry, frustrated, and bitter around the world.

Do you have any bitter critter friends? You know, these people that are just bitter and angry all the time? They’re mad at other people, the injustices of the world, but then when they screw up they can’t even say, “I’m sorry.” Doesn’t that drive you nuts? It’s a lack of congruence, and I think the challenge is that so many people have never really been taught how to think about these things.

Should we apologize to people? Absolutely. If we do something that causes harm or hurts someone’s feelings, even if it wasn’t our intention, even if we think it wasn’t a big deal? Yes. Because guess what?

Apologizing has nothing to do with what we think is a big deal, no matter how smart we are about justifying why someone should not feel that way. “Well she shouldn’t feel that way, so I’m not going to apologize.” It doesn’t matter if you think she should feel that way, if she feels that way, she feels that way.

Because, whatever action you did, whether it deserved to cause that emotion, if she’s having that interaction and feeling, then we ought to say, “I’m really sorry that you’re having that experience, I didn’t intend for that, but I apologize. I want to let you know I want you to be happy. I want you to feel good. I want us to have a good relationship.“

It’s turning that apology into a direct intention, a direct statement that we want things to be better.

You say, “I’m not going to apologize because when I apologize then they really hold me to the ground.” Have you ever apologized to someone and they just won’t accept the apology? They just keep getting meaner and meaner and meaner to you, making you defend yourself, defend yourself, defend yourself?

Don’t play that game. Just say, “You know what, I don’t know what else to say. I’ve totally apologized. I have really nothing else to say about the matter other than I just feel bad. I feel bad that you feel bad. None of us wants to feel bad.”

Don’t let anyone drag you into their emotional drama either. Apologize with sincerity and strength, but do not allow yourself to be drawn into everyone else’s negative emotions. To allow yourself to apologize from a place of knowing you’re doing it with integrity, because you don’t want to cause harm or make anyone feel bad. To do that, but not allow yourself to give over your integrity, to allow someone now to brow beat you into submission, into beating you into a place where you’re emotionally and spiritually completely taxed, where you say I’m not going to apologize anymore.

See, when we apologize we don’t have to give away our power.

It’s coming from a place of real power that allows us to apologize, because when we’re coming from a place of real, raw, emotional and spiritual power, we can apologize because there’s no ego attached to it.

Whatever dance is going to happen after we apologize, we’re not going to be drawn into that dance of drama.

See, part of the reason we don’t want to apologize is because we fear it makes us look wrong, even if we wouldn’t say that or conceptualize that. We feel like, “If I apologize then that means I was wrong.”

What if it has nothing to do with whether or not you were wrong or right, deserved or justified? What if it’s so simple to apologize because it has nothing to do with your ego?

I’ll apologize all day long because me apologizing or pointing out any flaws that I have or any mistakes I’ve made does not diminish me as a person. It grows me as a person. It makes me stronger, more aware and more capable. I want to learn when I mess up, so when someone says you should apologize for that I say, “Okay, I apologize. “ There’s no hook to it for me. I don’t get angry about other people.

“Well, I don’t need to apologize to you, who do you think you are?” Nothing is served from that. I have no ego about these things and it’s so much easier to apologize, because it’s not about you. It’s not about protecting your own mental turf. It’s not about being right.

Most of the frustrations and the anger and bitterness we have to other people is because we feel that we have to be so right and we feel so powerful when we’re right.

It’s like, really?

Just be a spiritual person and be open and allow warmth and love to flow through to you, especially to the people you have hurt.

Let it go. Let go of that need to feel right or justified and your life really does transform. You can literally feel thousands of pounds of baggage releasing from your shoulders the moment you’re spiritually free enough to apologize whenever someone around you has been negatively impacted or took something negative and they felt bad.

Some people just are going to feel bad all the time, so they’ll be asking you for apologies all the time. Your job? Limit your exposure to that person.

You’re like, Brendon, “What if I marry that person.” Don’t blame me I didn’t marry them you married them!

I think you have to have a greater sense of connection with others to realize that if they’re continually offended and continually hurt, to sit them down and say,

“I sense that you were always continually hurt and there is always this thing: I can’t do anything right. So what dialogue would I have to have or what behavior change would I have to have or we have to have in this relationship so that you’re not always hurt? If you’re always going to be hurt, I’m always going to feel bad. And if I’m always going to feel bad and you’re always going to feel bad, where could this relationship ever really go? Let’s have an intentional conversation about what kind of relationship do we really want? Do you and I both want to continue drowning in our drama or do we want to find out a new way we can live and interact together? If we can’t figure out a new way to live and interact together, in which we have true joy, openness, care and compassion and love and fun with each other, then we aren’t doing a good enough job together. Then we have to explore that too.”

And sometimes there are people who just aren’t at the same conscious plain you are–and you don’t say that from a place of ego, you just say it in recognition that they’re still on that plain of hurt and they aren’t ever going to release that plain of hurt.

Maybe you have to be honest with them and have a conversation, maybe they need true therapy. They need true help. Some people truly, cannot resolve their own internal dramas, as much as they try, and you are not a therapist… (maybe you are, I don’t know).

But your job isn’t to be a therapist to your loved ones. Your job is to facilitate that if they need to go get some help, then let them go get some help, and champion that. Don’t create a stigma around it. Let them get some help to resolve their internal dramas that are creating all this negative energy that’s constantly creating bitterness and feuds between the two of you.

That’s your job: “How can I guide this so there’s not as much hurt here.” If you do that well in your relationships you find it so much easier to apologize when you do something.

When someone feels bad around me, I immediately apologize, because I know apology has nothing to do with me. It has to do with their ability and their need to release their bitterness. They’re upset, and if all the need is a simple switch of an apology to release that upset-ness in their life, I want to let them switch that thing all day long.

It’s not about you. It’s about a need they have psychologically to release from something and the apology is the lever for that release.

I’m like, I’ll hand somebody a lever all day long it doesn’t bother me, because it has nothing to do with me. Does that make sense?

If your intentions are pure and your actions are done with true compassion and faith and love in other people, than you’ll find suddenly you don’t have to apologize that much, because your actions are pure and who you are is pure.

You’re doing good things for yourself, first and foremost to have integrity, and then for others, and because you do that, suddenly you don’t make as many mistakes. You don’t hurt people as often, and you just find yourself acting, not in noble ways, but in ways that are true to your real spirit, which is coming from a place of love and compassion anyway.

I think the second part of this in demonstrating real strength is also the ability on your side to forgive.

If someone says, “I’m sorry,” you’re like I get it.

You don’t have to say, “You’re not really sorry,” and until they bleed, you won’t forgive them. You know these people don’t you?

Forgiveness should be as simple as apology for you. Simple.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with you, just like apology might not have anything to do with you. It’s not about ego.

Forgiveness is not something mental that you need to construct in your head, it’s a spiritual discipline.

You know what, there are so many things going on at any given time that could be judged as wrong, as harsh, as terrible, as mean and as vindictive, and what we have to realize is that we could interpret everything that way, everything. If someone cuts you off in traffic you freak out and now you’re going to chase them down and run them off the road, and you won’t forgive them for five days, you’re mad about that guy who cut you off.

You know what you’re carrying? Bitterness and anger. Over a period of years that starts to wear on your face. It starts showing up in your body. It starts to slow you down in your progress in life, because you start thinking people are bad, so you divide yourself from other people. And, because you see other people are as bad then you don’t collaborate as much. You don’t ask for help. You don’t believe in the power of a team to accomplish something, and suddenly you find yourself alone, bitter and alone, because you didn’t have the spiritual wherewithal to forgive.

Forgiving is so simple. It literally is a decision. No justification or cause has to happen, and forgiving does not have to do anything with accepting the other person’s behavior, approving of it, justifying it, rationalizing it or understanding it.

Forgiveness is a personal power saying, I’m not going to be upset. You don’t even have to forgive them. You don’t even have to forgive their actions.. it has nothing to do with them.

Forgiveness has to do with a decision that you’re just going to forgive the weight that you’re carrying around about something that impacted you.

That’s the way to look at it.

It is a spiritual power in just dropping weight of negativity, of negative emotion and energy around you.

I can forgive so fast in my life, not because I’m so wow spiritual, it’s just because I’ve practiced it so many times. I’m constantly like,

“Wow, I’m kind of upset about that. Let me let that go, because it’s not going to serve my life. Let me let that go because if I don’t I can’t sleep tonight. Let me let that go because if I don’t I feel heavy and angry. Let me let that go because when I’m upset or bitter I don’t have a good vision for my future. Let me let that go, because if I carry it I’m going to walk that into my next relationship with someone I love, adore or care. Let me let that go, because nothing is served by being angry.”

Nothing is served by being bitter. Nothing is served in a relationship by Lording over something over someone else’s head. Nothing ever moves from that. There’s no positive movement that comes in a relationship that has been broken without first forgiveness. It has to happen and it has to happen in a place where it’s not about you. Do it just for your spirit.

Let go of the ego and just forgive somebody, not to approve of them, not to justify, not to rationalize. Like I said, just do it for your own mental and spiritual sanity, health and vibrancy. Just let it go. You need nothing more.

Make a decision today that whatever’s bothering you just let it go. Let that challenge of that relationship for now, just let it go and see how that feels. It will lighten the load and will allow you to soar again. It will give you spirit back. It will allow an openness in the life again that never can happen when you’re tugging at all this baggage on your shoulders that you chose to carry. Maybe they threw a piece of baggage at you and you caught it. You caught it and now you’re angry. You simply need to let it go.

I’m not going to carry your stuff anymore. I forgive the situation. I forgive you, only for my own mental sanity. That’s personal power.

That’s how you feel free in life again: From apologizing and allowing forgiveness into your life, you feel free again, and when you feel free again, now life is unbounded. It’s beautiful. The colors return to the sky. The whistle comes back to the work. Any metaphor you need to justify doing this, find it and let it go today.

Apologize when you need to.

Let it go every time, and suddenly you’ll find yourself fully charged.