A year or so ago, I believe I was called to take the first step upon what would come to be a profoundly transformative personal and spiritual journey. I was deeply depressed and anxious, and my thoughts and emotions resonated in the focal vibration of despair. Perhaps everyone experiences a ‘dark night of the soul’ sometime in his or her life, and the shadow-period often serves as a kind of initiation rite, through which an individual can break out of thoughts and emotions that no longer serve her highest interest and enter into a new stage of personal evolution.
One of the first things that I had to learn how to do (and meditation was the vehicle…) was to pay close attention to the words and phrases that I was telling myself without even realizing it. These mental formations had become habits of thinking that kept me locked into a dark spiritual space and into old patterns of behavior which ultimately originated from childhood traumata. Negative thought patterns limited the possibility of living a life of happiness, freedom, and abundance. I began paying closer attention to them, and made specific intentions to alter negative affirmations to positive ones. Now that positive affirmations have become a daily part of my spiritual practice, I have noticed how often I hear negative affirmations from others in my environment–words and phrases that are commonly spoken without much attention to the energetic value of them. In this and future blog posts, I will be offering my thoughts about specific words/phrases that I myself have often used without thought, and which I hear daily from folks around me.
“I’m sorry“: I have personally found that expressing an apology with the words “I’m sorry” is actually a negative affirmation. Sorry expresses regret, which often arises out of blame, shame, and embarrassment–some of the most toxic human emotions. “I’m sorry” carries a resonance of self-abnegation. When we affirm shame and regret, we actually further ingrain those old patterns of behavior that lead to further suffering for ourselves and those with whom we interact. Furthermore, in our culture, we often use the word “sorry” as a derogatory adjective (ex.: that’s a sorry excuse). All real compassion toward others originates from compassion towards the self; when we err, it is important that we acknowledge that error, learn from it, and try to make amends. As an alternative to “I’m sorry,” “I apologize” affirms exactly that–“I understand that I have erred, and I acknowledge that here and now.”
“Apology” comes from the ancient Greek word, “apologia.” The Greek word “logos” is embedded within the word “apology”; “logos” in Greek means “reasoning,” “awareness,” “speech.” The preposition “apo” in Greek means “originating from.” Thus, an apology expresses that your speech comes from your awareness, from your deep understanding. When someone asks for an apology, what they generally wish to hear from the other person is a deep acknowledgement of the effect his actions or words had on others.
“I apologize” affirms deep understanding and, equally importantly, the opportunity to learn from what has been deeply acknowledged and understood. I truly believe that every single interaction with other people provides an opportunity for personal evolution. Error often provides the pathway to learning some of life’s most profound lessons. It is possible to take responsibility for one’s words and actions while affirming one’s natural right to personal evolution through deeper understanding.