Musings + Essays

On Apologies.

By: Jen Shoop

A few weeks ago, a string of Magpies recommended in unison a podcast featuring Brene Brown and Dr. Harriet Lerner on the subject of forgiveness. Several of you indicated that the podcast had repaired a relationship, or otherwise shed meaningful light on a fraught friendship. Intrigued, I tuned in, and — wow. It is a deeply worthy listen. For one thing, I found unexpected catharsis relating to an apology I received a long time ago that has always felt more like a scab than a scar — that is, there is something gesturing at recovery that lives there but has never quite given way to new skin. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened. I cried at the shock of feeling seen after all this time. I cried because I had been telling myself (and, frankly, been told by the other party) that “I just need to get over this.” And here, on the podcast, were two wise and empathetic women telling me: “Not so fast — your feelings are legitimate. Here’s how the apology should have gone.”

Perhaps more meaningfully, though, I spent some time reflecting on my own botched apologies and habits around forgiveness. I have thought about so many of the brilliant points in this podcast since hearing them (especially Dr. Lerner’s observation that “That’s OK” is not the appropriate answer to “I’m sorry”; when someone apologizes meaningfully, we must practice saying, “Thank you,” two words that are tremendously difficult to issue at a moment like that, as they acknowledging that we have been hurt and are due the apology!), but mainly this:

An apology asks for nothing.

An apology does not ask for forgiveness. It is not a means to an end — e.g., “OK, if I apologize, we can just let this whole thing blow over” — and it makes no demands of the other party. A true apology acknowledges wrongdoing, accepts the legitimate feelings of the hurt party, and attempts repair.

This has been a true jumping off point for me. I rarely have trouble asking for forgiveness because I hate being a state of disequilibrium or friction with those I love and am always eager to set things right and smooth the tablecloth, but — a true apology now seems to me an entirely different beast. Again I write: a true apology asks for nothing. It is unconditional and nonstrategic. It is meant for the other party but it is more about an internal change on my end, a “seeing” that I have done wrong and an acceptance of that failure as my responsibility.

I have miles to go, but feel charged by the conversation.

I can’t recommend the podcast enough, but if you lack the time, you might find this quick sheet featuring Harriet Lerner’s nine essential ingredients of a true apology illuminating.



+On self compassion.

+Confidence is quiet.

+What is the antonym of curiosity?

+How do you spend time alone?

Shopping Break.

+Adore this matching skirt and top set. The pattern reminds me of this $38 dress I own and love!

+Also love this two-piece set! The scalloped edges!

+Speaking of blue and white, how amazing is this RT dress? This is the kind of sophisticated but bold style you would totally ROCK at a bridal shower or luncheon or reunion.

+This little woven bag is adorable.

+Some great recent Outnet finds: St Laurent sunglasses, an Anya Hindmarch crossbody, and a gorgeous striped cover up.

+Straw seashell clutch for $40! Pam Munson vibes for less.

+I just ordered this large jewelry tray with six segments in it because I find I am always dropping all of my jewelry into a big heap in my top drawer and feel this might help as an intermediate step between when something is worn and put back in the proper place.

+Loving these new fringed outdoor pillows — 20% off.

+More chic home finds here and here.

+$13 raffia hoops!

+How fun is this gingham tote?

+Chic and easy $78 caftan.

+This LWD is so up my alley. Adorable!

+This floral top is adorable.

+Gap finds not to miss.

+Adore this jungle print shirtdress — great for everyday, and under $200.

+These are my absolute favorite shorts for micro. I’ve purchased in three colors at this point — I also like the ones from Cadets and Minnow but find these launder better and aren’t as tight in the waist for my son’s build. And such good colors!

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7 thoughts on “On Apologies.

  1. I am so glad you found the podcast valuable! I totally agree that it was game changing. I am a huge Lerner fan. One of my favorite audio books ever is her book, “The Dance of Anger.” It was published in 1985 and is a bit gendered (she writes it directed at women and I don’t think it’s the most trans-inclusive language) yet I still would recommend it because I learned so much, especially as a person who has historically under-expressed/repressed anger.

    1. I’m so glad you introduced me to the podcast! And I’m glad you found Dr. Lerner — sounds like she has been so helpful for you! So amazing when voices come into our lives at just the right time.


      1. PS – I write that pointedly because I know you are a big fan of Gilbert and she DEFINITELY has perspective on the arrival of ideas at certain times in our lives!!!

  2. Oooooh! I can’t wait to listen to this podcast. Thank you.
    PS- I enjoy the podcast This Is Love a lot too. The segment titled Something Large and Wild is my favorite. Then Gobi.
    Just sharing.

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