The Apology

Fall is here.  The time for death to what is not working to make room for new possibilities.

Have you ever noticed how often an apology is a key turning point in a story?  My favourite apologies are in Jerry McGuire (You Complete Me), You’ve Got Mail (when Tom Hanks Brings flowers to Meg Ryan and apologizes badly saying it was business, it wasn’t personal – 0h she sets him straight!) and Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me song.

The apology is the key moment of recognizing that something needs to die in order for something that matters to exist.  A good apology comes from a position of power.  I do not like it when someone apologizes by bleeding all over the place.  Then I feel like I have to stop feeling my feelings and feel bad for them.  When a person apologizes it should come from a recognition of a higher value.  He choose’s the course he wants to be on and then does what it takes to make it

It is a very powerful thing to know how to deliver a good apology.  It is not rocket science.  There are 4 steps.  Do them with the right intention in your heart and you can bring something back from the dead.

Step 1. Admit What You Did Wrong

This is different from saying “if I hurt you I am sorry.”  I have actually heard this.  More than once.  This step needs a clear statement of what happened and why it was wrong.

Step 2. Repair the Damage

This refers to the physical damage.  If something was broken, buy a new one.  If a mess was made, clean it up.  If he said something at a party, he makes a statement that is equally public to correct what he said.

Step 3. Give Reasonable Expectation That It Won’t Happen Again

If the problem is rooted in commitment issues, he commits to talk it out or head to a councillor.  If the issue is his boss is a letch or his job requires constant travel, start looking for a new one.  Make whatever change is necessary to ensure there is not a cycle of recurring damage.

Step 4. Ask How You Can Make It Better

This is my favourite part of an apology because it looks at the emotional elements of the connection between two people.  Most of the time just being asked is enough for me (I just realized I am assuming I am on the receiving end of the apology for this whole blog – hmmm.  That is interesting.  I do love a guy who apologizes well!)

Warning! It is really important when you are on the receiving end of an apology not to inflict more damage than was done when you get to step 4.  For instance if you decide to even the score and have an affair – he had an affair because he was having a mid-life crisis or he was stupid.  You had an affair to get back at him.  Some might find that more damaging. You can say you need time to heal but there is a cost to making a person feel bad for too long.

Has anyone else noticed how common the apology is for story turning points?  What has been your experience of writing an apology scene?

About Kim Hudson

KIM HUDSON Author of The Virgin’s Promise I grew up in the Yukon, as what I would describe as a Hero’s daughter with a Cinderella Complex. Basically life taught me many of the things I needed to know to write my first book, The Virgin's Promise. It is on a story structure for a character that needs to connect to who she really is, separate from what everyone else expects of her. It uses movie example and is equally applicable to any kind of story telling. I spent the first half of my career first as a field geologist and later as a federal land claims negotiator. It was the 80's and I was proving I could do whatever men could do. I also learned that I am fascinated with masculine/feminine dynamics. Exploring my feminine side became important to me as I raised my two daughters. This lead me to study Writing for Film and Television at Vancouver Film School, and take courses on mythology, feminism and psychology including a Jungian Odyssey in Switzerland. The theory of the Virgin's journey was developed by closely observing the archetypal expressions that are all around us in movies, music, television, advertisements and stories of personal growth, including my own. In my posts I want to introduce an archetypal structure that expands the work of Joseph Campbell on the Hero's journey to include a feminine archetype. I hope it will create stories about women and men who follow their spiritual, sexual or creative awakening, otherwise known as their feminine side. I’ve tried to use examples of male and female Virgins to show this. So go ahead and explore the ideas, tell me what movies you liked and what stories you think is also a Virgin pathway, or stories of your own personal Virgin journey.
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2 Responses to The Apology

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    I love this. I think “I was an idiot” is also not a bad part of an apology.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a hero or heroine who did something that needed the big apology. In real life, though, my husband and I have apologized – mostly for small, irritating stuff, but the small stuff adds up. And often we do it again. The best thing we do is remind ourselves that neither of us are perfect.

    I’m listening to Bryan Adams sing “Please Forgive Me.” Lovely song.

  2. Kim, I so agree with your first point. Politicians and celebrities seldom get that right. The phrase ‘I apologise if I offended anyone’ is NOT an apology. It’s like saying it’s really the other person’s problem if they took it the wrong way. Ugh!

    I love a good apology, and I love your expression ‘bring something back from the dead’. Without it, all goodwill dies.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Book Blitz: Dark Horse

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