I Apologize — Lionesses of Africa

by Safiyyah Boolay-Jappie 

They say that confession is good for the soul. If only it weren’t so darned embarrassing! I’m constantly evangelizing and advocating rituals and routines that set us up for alignment with our best intentions for ourselves. And yet, here I am, slowly emerging from an almost week long bender of crisps and TV. Don’t ask me what I watched. I vaguely recall the Romanoffs, but I was indiscriminately captivated and captured by crap. As the new week rolled in, I yearned to come back to myself and to my mission, but the inner chatter of regret and guilt was thick, and it throttled my efforts to return to self and to sanity.  I had to find a way to move forward, but I was stuck. Thankfully a friend dropped a gem that was like smelling salts to my fogged-up brain. She had counselled that “you can’t change what you have done; only what you are going to do”. Indeed. Thank you, Friend.

It was just the message I needed to get me shifting from regret, ‘If only’ and ‘WTF!’ to deciding how I would begin again. But I have a pitstop to make before I begin again.  I want to restore trust in myself again. I want to offer myself the self-compassion I am evangelizing in virtually every human contact I experience these days. If I had dropped the ball with someone else, I’d apologize. Profusely. I would devote myself to restoring trust and earning back their respect. What becomes possible if I treat myself with this very same respect?

I’ve learnt the steps to a good apology some time back, and I have used these steps a few more times than I’d like to remember. But I am today years old that it’s dawned on me that I am entitled to the same level of respect and level of apology from myself. I am floored firstly by the idea that I can apologize to myself and secondly that it’s never occurred to me before that I could actually do this.

This is powerful. 

It is the ultimate acknowledgment that I take my intentions and my mission seriously.

It is the ultimate acknowledgment that I can tangibly redeem myself with myself.

It is the ultimate acknowledgment that I can express compassion to myself and fully immerse myself in my humanity; my fallibility; my vulnerability.

It is the ultimate acknowledgment that I can be safe with myself.

It is the ultimate freedom to reflect and to learn without being shackled by self-judgment. I can’t change what has happened over this past week. Getting hung up on regret, guilt and self-persecution cannot change what has happened over the past week. What I can and will do is redeem myself. Apology is an organic process of taking responsibility and restoring trust. It is more than words. It is redemptive commitment that one returns to until trust is restored. Accepting the apology is a mercy, an act of compassion and grace.

My Four-Part Self-Apology

1. Acknowledge the commitment that was not kept

I had said I’d eat crisps and watch tv in moderation. That my priority is the artefacts, tools and resources I am creating and getting to bed early. 

2. Describe the consequences of breaking your commitment

As a result, I felt tired and depleted and betrayed by myself. My goals slipped. It’s hard to trust myself and I feel disconnected from my hopes and mission. 

3. Remember your context, not as an excuse, but as a way of learning

My upper limit kicked in. After a month of strong action and promising results, the doubt set in. I had not set aside enough time and created the support structures I need to manage this.

4. Explore what will restore trust

The realization is that I am not lazy. Or useless or a quitter. I need support and I need it as a constant. Getting lost in my head is never healthy, and speaking my confusions and fears out loud gives me breathing room and allows me to recalibrate. I have gotten the support from two separate avenues and I am on the lookout for a third. With accountability partners and a coach I can apply IMPACT and get the ‘goggas’ in my head sorted out.

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