I’m sorry.

The most powerful two-word phrase in the English language …and every language: I’m sorry.

Why is it so powerful to hear “I’m sorry”?

Because “I’m sorry” can repair the hurt that I caused you. A true apology can rebuild and strengthen our relationship.

Why that is important?

Because my relationships create who I am, to the world and in my heart.

Why that is important?

Because I have the power to create my life.

In my head: “Yeah, sure. You create … blah blah blah.”

It’s true: you create your life.

The power to create my life is so big that I don’t always grasp it. Sometimes I downright deny it.

I forget that I have this power when I feel like I am spinning out of control.

In those moments, I have learned to slow the spin by using the Hawaiian spiritual practice called ho’oponopono, saying these four statements in my head:

      • I love you.
      • I’m sorry.
      • Please forgive me.
      • Thank you.

Interrupting the thought or feeling that wants to take me away from the current moment allows me to see things more clearly.

I can SEE that I am HAVING unpleasant feelings, which is different from being wrapped up in them and acting to soothe myself or escape. Helplessness turns to curiosity.

I can also see that feeling out of control doesn’t mean that I don’t have control. It means that I am creating an out-of-control life.

If I am spinning because I don’t know what I want or where I am heading, it doesn’t mean that someone else is steering. It just means that I don’t have a map. Without direction, I am steering my life randomly. But it’s still me steering.

The four sentences of ho’oponopono also soften my heart just when fear or shame want to shield, protect, and close it off. Especially when I repeat, “I’m sorry.”

Having used this practice for about a year now, I swear that “I’m sorry” is the star of the show. When I say, “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me,” especially to myself, I feel my heart soften and I give myself permission to pause and reflect on my mistakes.

It reminds me that a perfect life is a myth. Life is a series of missteps. My job is to learn from them and find a way to get back on track.

The same applies tenfold to my relationships.

Relationships give me the greatest opportunity to restore and reset. When I let problems fester, they block me from love and peace.

Getting back on track usually requires someone to own up to what happened. The more I learn, the quicker I step up to say, “I’m sorry.”

What is something that you can own up to?
Don’t hesitate. Go now. Start to repair what you harmed.

P.S. One last thing about the power of “I’m sorry.” Those two words become less potent when certain words are added, especially “but.”

For a master class in the art of the apology, check out Brené Brown’s two-part conversation with Harriet Lerner on her podcast, “Unlocking Us.”

photo credit: Mark Tulin/Unsplash