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Health & Balance

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Health Benefits of a Sincere Apology

Saying you're sorry is potent medicine for the giver and receiver.
And Star Lawrence
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

We all know the feeling. You gossiped and the person found out. You helped yourself to something that wasn't yours (such as someone's spouse). You stole. You lied. You read your child's diary. It never sits quite right -- you toss, you turn in bed, you have that sinking feeling in your chest, you eat, you drink too much, you get headaches.

Carol Orsborn, PhD, a research associate at UCLA and author of 15 books including Nothing Left Unsaid: Words to Help You and Your Loved Ones Through the Hardest Times and The Silver Pearl: Our Generation's Journey to Wisdom, tells WebMD about a woman she met while writing the latter book.

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Sit Still for 5 Minutes a Day

By Jenn Sturiale It may seem counterintuitive, but sitting still can be an utterly transformative experience. Our society encourages us to always do more, and faster -- and then tomorrow, to do even more, and be faster still. The problem is that most of us lack the skill to be alone and quiet for even short periods of time, always distracting ourselves by sending another text or checking email or flipping the channel. When our brains are always on overdrive, how do we ever get a sense of what's...

Read the Sit Still for 5 Minutes a Day article > >

Barbara, age 50, was going through a divorce and her brother was her mainstay, talking her through lonely nights on the phone. Then she met the man of her dreams and moved away. She got so swept up in her new life, she put her brother on the backburner. She missed his birthday.

That's when the sleepless nights began. She was embarrassed to even call. She knew he would be hurt -- but would he be angry? Eventually, she picked up the phone. Yes, he was hurt, but he said he understood. She started sleeping again -- and talking to her brother.

Orsborn surveyed 100 women in the baby boomer group for The Silver Pearl. "These were women who were role models with a positive attitude, whether or not they had any money," she says.

A key characteristic was their ability and willingness to clear up unfinished business, she notes.

Stages of Life Keyed to Level of Healing

"Stage one," Orsborn says, "is the good little girl stage. No matter what their age, women in this stage may apologize for everything, even things they don't need to. They need to please people."

Stage two is the rebellion period. Women, Orsborn says, can rebel against the pleasing phase and are not likely to apologize for anything! "They are mad about everything," she says.

The third stage is wisdom, she says. "When women get beyond following the rules and beyond reactivity, they take the best of both. This means they have an urge to reconcile legitimate shortcomings."

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