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In her book Why Won’t You Apologize?, Dr. Harriet Lerner talks about the value of a good apology

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Jonah Preaches to Ninevites by Gustave Doré, 1866 | Photo: bibleodyssey.org

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‌“I am‌ ‌sorry”‌ ‌are‌ ‌the‌ ‌three‌ ‌most‌ ‌powerful‌ words‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌English‌ ‌language.‌ ‌ ‌

One‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌favourite‌ ‌authors,‌ ‌‌Dr.‌ ‌Harriet‌ ‌Lerner,‌‌ ‌has‌ been‌ ‌studying‌ ‌the‌ ‌art‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌apology‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌last‌ ‌two‌ ‌decades‌ ‌and‌ ‌has‌ ‌written‌ ‌a‌ ‌book‌ ‌called‌ ‌‌Why‌ ‌Won’t‌ ‌You‌ ‌Apologize?:‌ ‌Healing‌ ‌Big‌ ‌Betrayals‌ ‌and‌ ‌Everyday‌ ‌Hurts.

‌I‌ ‌thought‌, ‌as‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌leading‌ ‌into‌ ‌the‌ ‌New‌ ‌Year‌ ‌and‌ ‌to‌ Yom‌ ‌Kippur,‌ ‌I‌ ‌wanted‌ ‌to‌ ‌share‌ ‌my‌ ‌thoughts‌ ‌on‌ ‌apologizing,‌ ‌and‌ ‌how‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌not‌ ‌only‌ ‌transform‌ ‌a‌ ‌relationship,‌ ‌but‌ ‌can‌ ‌open‌ ‌the‌ ‌door‌ ‌to‌ ‌reconciliation.‌ ‌ ‌As‌‌ ‌Lerner‌ ‌explains,‌ ‌it‌ ‌takes‌ ‌great‌ ‌courage‌ ‌to‌ ‌apologize,‌ ‌and‌ ‌meaningful‌ ‌apologies‌ ‌are‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌heart‌ ‌of ‌the‌ ‌best‌ ‌relationships – ‌marriage,‌ ‌parenting,‌ ‌friendship,‌ ‌work… – ‌and‌ ‌your‌ ‌own‌ ‌happiness‌ ‌and‌ ‌integrity.‌ ‌ ‌

One‌ ‌thing‌ ‌we‌ ‌know‌ ‌for‌ ‌sure:‌ ‌the‌ ‌apology‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌followed‌ by‌ ‌the‌ ‌word‌ ‌“but”‌ ‌never‌ ‌works,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌impactful‌ ‌apology‌ ‌comes‌ ‌without‌ ‌any‌ ‌“buts”‌ ‌‌or‌ ‌explanations.‌

According‌ ‌to‌ ‌Lerner,‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌ways‌ ‌to‌ ‌ruin‌ ‌an‌ ‌apology‌ is‌ ‌to‌ ‌say‌ something‌ ‌like‌ ‌“I’m‌ ‌sorry‌ ‌you‌ ‌feel‌ ‌that‌ ‌way.”‌ ‌She adds it’s‌ ‌also‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌remember‌‌ that‌ ‌a‌ ‌good‌ ‌apology‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌about‌ ‌you,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌about,‌ ‌“staying‌ ‌deeply‌ ‌curious‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌hurt‌ ‌person’s experience,‌ ‌rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌hijacking‌ ‌it‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌own‌ ‌emotionality.”‌ ‌ ‌

Also‌ ‌when‌ ‌you‌ ‌apologize,‌ ‌make‌ ‌your‌ ‌apology‌ ‌genuine‌, ‌and‌ ‌remember‌ ‌that‌ ‌sometimes‌ ‌less‌ ‌is‌ ‌more,‌ ‌she says‌.‌ ‌ ‌

‌Lerner‌ ‌also‌ ‌talks‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌importance‌ ‌of‌ ‌never‌ ‌demanding‌ ‌an‌ ‌apology.‌ ‌“Requesting‌ ‌an‌ ‌apology‌ ‌is‌ ‌fine;‌ ‌but‌ ‌demanding‌ ‌one‌ ‌is‌ ‌counterproductive.”‌ ‌ ‌

And‌ ‌when‌ ‌someone‌ ‌is‌ ‌brave‌ ‌enough‌ ‌to‌ ‌apologize,‌ ‌“be‌ ‌generous‌ ‌in‌ ‌accepting‌ ‌the‌ ‌apology‌‌‌ ‌in‌ ‌good‌ ‌faith.”‌ ‌Also‌ ‌remember‌ ‌to‌ ‌acknowledge‌ their ‌courage‌ ‌to‌ own up.‌

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In‌ ‌Judaism,‌ ‌the‌ ‌story‌ ‌of‌ ‌Jonah‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌whale‌ ‌is‌ an illustrative story ‌about‌ teshuvah‌ (repentance)‌, which we happen to read at Yom Kippur. Jonah‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌prophet‌ tasked‌ ‌by‌ ‌God‌ ‌to‌ ‌travel‌ ‌to‌ Nineveh,‌ ‌to‌ ‌warn‌ ‌the‌ ‌people‌ there ‌that‌ ‌if‌ ‌they‌ ‌didn’t‌ ‌stop‌ ‌sinning,‌ ‌their‌ ‌city‌ ‌would‌ ‌be‌ ‌destroyed.‌ He ‌was reluctant‌ ‌to‌ ‌fulfill‌ ‌this‌ ‌mission‌ ‌from‌ ‌God and tried to flee by boarding a ship.‌ It’s often said that the‌ ‌reason‌ ‌Jonah‌ wanted‌ ‌to‌ run from Nineveh‌,‌ was because if Nineveh had repented, it would make his own people look worse.

While Jonah was on the boat, God created a‌ ‌raging‌ ‌storm that put the journey in jeopardy.‌ ‌ ‌

When‌ ‌Jonah‌ clued in that ‌he‌ ‌did‌ ‌something‌ ‌wrong,‌ ‌he‌ ‌admitted‌ ‌that‌ ‌not‌ ‌listening‌ ‌to‌ ‌God‌ ‌was‌ ‌all‌ ‌his‌ ‌fault.‌ ‌He‌ ‌could‌ ‌have‌ ‌just‌ ‌said‌ ‌“I’m‌ ‌sorry,”‌ ‌but‌ ‌instead,‌ ‌he‌ ‌let‌ ‌the‌ crew ‌throw‌ ‌him‌ ‌off‌ ‌the‌ ‌boat,‌ ‌both‌ ‌to‌ ‌save‌ ‌them,‌ ‌and‌ ‌repent‌ ‌for‌ ‌his‌ ‌sins.‌

Jona door de vis uitgespuwd (Jonah spewed out by the fish) by Caspar Luiken in 1708

‌While in the water,‌ ‌a‌ ‌large‌ ‌fish‌ – ‌‌often‌ ‌referred‌ ‌to‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌whale – ‌swallowed‌ ‌up‌ ‌Jonah,‌ ‌and‌ ‌only‌ ‌by‌ asking ‌God‌ to forgive him‌ ‌was‌ ‌Jonah’s‌ ‌life‌ ‌spared;‌ ‌the‌ ‌whale‌ ‌released‌ ‌him‌ ‌onto‌ ‌the‌ ‌land.‌ ‌ ‌

His ‌apology‌ ‌was‌ ‌accompanied‌ ‌by‌ ‌an‌ ‌action.‌ ‌That‌ ‌action‌ ‌made‌ ‌his‌ ‌apology‌ ‌even‌ ‌stronger.‌ 

Everyone‌ at Nineveh ultimately ‌repented‌ ‌by‌ ‌fasting,‌ ‌and‌ ‌atoned‌ ‌for‌ ‌their‌ ‌sins‌, ‌and‌ ‌their city‌ ‌was‌ ‌saved.‌ ‌They were even‌ ‌willing‌ ‌to‌ ‌change‌ ‌and‌ ‌transform, ‌which‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌genuine‌ ‌apology‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌ever‌ ‌give.‌ ‌‌Apology‌ ‌with‌ ‌action‌ ‌and‌ ‌transformation‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌powerful‌ ‌apology‌ ‌of‌ ‌all.‌

Dr. Harriet Lerner’s book “Why Won’t You Apologize?” focuses on the “art of the apology”

As‌ ‌Lerner‌ ‌puts‌ ‌it,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌a‌ journey to repent.‌ ‌“We‌ ‌can‌ ‌apologize‌ ‌to‌ ‌someone‌ ‌in‌ 30 ‌seconds,‌ ‌but‌ ‌changing‌ ‌our‌ ‌part‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌relationship‌ ‌impasse‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌long-distance‌ ‌run‌ ‌that‌ ‌takes‌ ‌endurance,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌capacity‌ ‌to‌ ‌push‌ ‌forward‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌face‌ ‌of‌ ‌enormous‌ ‌resistance‌ ‌from‌ ‌within‌ ‌and‌ ‌without.”‌ ‌

If‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌still‌ ‌struggling‌ ‌with‌ offering ‌an‌ ‌apology,‌ ‌a‌ ‌perfect‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌practice‌ ‌at‌ ‌Yom‌ ‌Kippur is‌ ‌with‌ ‌these‌ ‌words:‌ ‌“If‌ ‌I‌ have‌ ‌ever‌ ‌done‌ ‌anything‌ ‌to‌ ‌hurt‌ ‌you,‌ ‌consciously‌ ‌or‌ ‌unconsciously,‌ ‌I‌ ‌am‌ ‌sorry,‌ ‌and‌ ‌I‌ ‌hope‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌forgive‌ me.”‌ ‌ ‌

My‌ ‌wish‌ ‌for‌ ‌each‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌us,‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌we‌ ‌seek‌‌ teshuvah,‌‌ ‌‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌right‌ ‌time,‌ ‌with‌ ‌heartfelt‌ ‌sincerity.‌

Judy Siblin-Librach is the host of the weekly radio show and podcast Finding Your Bliss, on Zoomer Radio AM 740 FM 96.7. She is the creator of the online magazine Finding Your Bliss, and host of The Bliss Minute, a daily dose of happiness and positivity on Instagram and Facebook accounts @theblissminute. Judy has been an on-camera host and reporter for numerous TV shows both local and national, including her own show “In the Spotlight” (a showcase for Canada’s performing artists) which won Best Arts Program in North America by the Hometown U.S.A Video Festival. As well, she won a CBC Telefest Award for her documentary called “It Has A Name… Neurofibromatosis.”

She has also written for major newspapers and magazines across Canada. 

 

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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