Once upon a time there was a village idiot. He would go around doing genius things and stupid things. And the villagers couldn’t believe how a genius could be So Stupid. But it Could Be, and He Was. And he couldn’t see his own stupidity. Until one day a princess came along and held up a mirror to the Village Idiot. And the Village Idiot saw what he was, and he wept. He had been going around causing hurt due to his stupidity.
The village idiot had been happy until the Princess held up the mirror. He wished he had never seen the mirror, because the mirror caused his Unhappiness. And then he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t Unsee. He tried to Unsee, and everytime he closed his eyes to Unsee, the image of him flashed in his eyes.
And he was miserable, thinking of all the hurt he had caused the villagers and his beloved Princess. And he didn’t know what to do. He ran around the village square a few times, but that didn’t help.
Then he went to a wise woman, who told him that it was okay being the Idiot, as long as he learnt, and became less of an idiot each time. She told him to take five steps in the village square, five magical steps that would make him less of an Idiot.
The first step said this: realize what you did wrong, and seek the aggrieved party’s audience for an apology. Something like, ‘Would you be so kind as to meet with me please? I need to speak with you.’ Say this gently.
A true apology has to be an unconditional, complete, no-holds-barred apology. What it isn’t, is: you did this, so I did that, its not my fault. Or your provoked me to do it. An apology also isn’t ‘I’m sorry’, then turning around and doing it again.
The second step said this: Try and feel the emotion of the wrong doing in your apology. Let the other person know how sorry you are, quietly. No histrionics. Tell them what you are apologizing for.
The Third Step said: and this is a hard one: Allow space for them to tell you how much it hurt. This one hurts the most because we don’t want to hurt anyone. You have to sit and listen to how your behaviour felt for them. And validate it. If they say, ‘you yelled at me and made me feel small’. You hear them, then say, ‘Yes I can see that, and I am so sorry.’
The Fourth Step said: Seek the opportunity for remediation. This sounds something like this: ‘I know your trust in me has been impacted, but if you will allow me to apologize not just by saying I am sorry, but by demonstrating the change in my behavior, and reinstate our love and trust, I would be greatly obliged.’
The Last Step said: If they allow it, follow through by not doing it again, and being present, gentle and loving in the relationship. No one wants to be in a relationship where they are emotionally beaten up.
If they don’t allow it now, say, ‘I understand you don’t wish to accept my apology right now. I hope you will accept my apology in the future. Again, I am really sorry, and I hope you will allow me to redress the hurt I have caused. I feel awful that I hurt you inadvertently.’ And let them have space. In that space, hold them in love. They’ll be able to feel it.
When hurt is caused, it is not the end. What is hurt needs to be soothed, what is broken needs to be mended. Walk in faith.
After hurt is an apology, after apology is the acceptance of the apology, after the acceptance is true forgiveness, and lastly, the alteration of behavior on both sides.
Like you change your behavior, the aggrieved party also needs to let go of their hurt and hold you harmless, and restore the love to its prior splendor. The aggrieved party has to free this person of all grudges, all resentment, and all painful memories. That is true forgiveness.
We are all idiots in our own ways. Through this process of listening, apologizing, learning and forgiveness, we can grow together in love and harmony.
As my dear, departed father once said when my love went up to him and said:
‘Mr. Primlani, your daughter is an idiot.’
My father said:
‘That may well be, but that idiot loves you.’
Hurt is not the ending. Love is.
‘Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.’