I've been curious…why does doing it on purpose matter in this situation? I'm of the belief that no one ever hurts anyone "on purpose" - at least I've never known anyone to. It's usually when we are "spacing out" or not being aware of what's going on that we wind up tripping or having an accident that hurts ourself or someone else.
Sometimes, just the simple act of "spacing out" can hurt someone's feelings. Like when someone is sharing an exciting story with a friend who is focused on something else, say their phone. That can feel hurtful because it seems like they don't care, even though they probably do, they just weren't paying attention in the moment.
So I think a more fitting apology is, "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention" or "I'm sorry, I didn't sleep well last night and I feel distracted." The "not on purpose" is a given, especially if it's a friend or family member. Even just "I'm sorry" is often enough. We know we wouldn't do something to hurt someone else if we were paying attention. And we forgive it of course.
So what's the lesson in this? Well, what about when we are the person who accidentally hurts someone? Understanding that it likely happened as a result of spacing out or not paying attention gives us a key to how to do better next time: to make a big effort to be more aware. Instead of just shrugging it off, "well, I didn't mean to, it wasn't on purpose," there is something we can learn in the situation for doing it better next time.
Being more aware helps everyone!
But how do we be more aware? Well, this takes practice and it is an ongoing process, but the idea is to "try to remember better next time." (Whoops! There's that word "try" again! Another way to say it is: "decide to remember better next time.") It's very important to be gentle with yourself: remember Kindness Helps You Grow, so you are much more likely to remember and be more aware next time if you are nice to yourself when you catch yourself "spacing out."
Being more aware is one of the best ways you can help others. Not only does being aware help you not accidentally hurt someone (don't forget you are somebody too!): when you are more aware, it also helps others see things they may not have noticed. You become like a flashlight, illuminating things in the darkness that were not seen before. Be careful not to blind others with the flashlight though. It's not necessarily your job to increase others' awareness. It's just a natural thing that happens when you are being more aware. Similarly, you can learn to notice new things when others shine light on things you hadn't seen.
When we're all aware, the symphony plays in harmony
A fun exercise to do in your spare time is to imagine what instrument you would be if you were in an orchestra with all the instruments in the world. Of course you may be many instruments, you may play all of them over the course of a year. But which one do you feel like the most right now, in this moment? Imagine the song you might be playing. And then imagine what other instruments you want to play with you. And then imagine which people you know remind you the most of those instruments. Think about which people seem to be "in tune" with you the most? Are they the same people that play the instruments you like, or different? There's no right or wrong answer!