It isn't easy to do the work required this time of year. The holiday is not just ritual, and it is not a blanket "Forgive me if I have hurt you during the past year." It is a time when we are supposed to roll our sleeves up and check out our targets. Where did we miss the mark? Who has been hurt because of that? How do I set things right?
It isn't "Sorry I hurt you..." It is, "I am sorry I talked bad to you about so-and-so, and that I contributed to skewing that person to you." It isn't, "Sorry if I have been rude..." It is, "Sorry I cut in front of you repeatedly at carpool." It isn't, "Sorry for anything I did to hurt your feelings..." It is, "Sorry for cutting you off when you were trying to express yourself when we were fighting about dinner, and that time I didn't support you dealing with the children, and the other times as well that I may not be remembering at this moment."
In my mind, it is the specific times, specific ways in which we have missed the mark. It is through this recognition, specifically and not generally, that allows us to straighten our aim so that we don't make the same mistakes as frequently as we did before.
It is hard to admit mistakes, to do the work. It is humiliating at times, and even difficult to pull that memory back out. But THIS is what it is about. THIS is what we do. And our grandparents before us. And their grandparents before them. This is what we do as Jews. We get back to point zero, and hope we are able to make a better year for ourselves and those around us. Readjust our aim. Try to make the mark of who we are fully capable of being.