I’m not one who can’t admit when I’m wrong. Sometimes I need some prodding and pulling, but I find my way to the apology if only to transition to a new situation. While an apology can work wonders in healing wounds, and repairing lost connections, an apology alone tends to be ineffective if the underlying issue isn’t directly referenced. But it was an apology, and when someone is taking responsibility for hurt feelings and wrong doings, should we really be so picky about how and why an apology was given?
I have to admit I can be a little tough on evaluating an apology. It’s not that I want to hold onto negative emotions or cast away solid friendships, but I do want to believe the reason for the apology was fully understood. I don’t want an apology out of obligation. Those apologies tend to gloss over the issue, allowing the person giving the apology to pacify rather than actually making amends. Am I being too picky? Probably, but I’m about authenticity and an apology to placate isn’t worth the words that were used.
I’ve also noticed many apologize with extra verbiage that tends to shift the blame. I’m sure we’ve all had the, ‘I’m sorry but…’ situation more times than we would all like to have. From the “but” on, the apology has disappeared, often times resulting in the need for another apology to atone for whatever statement followed. So what is the big deal about giving a genuine apology? Is it really so hard? As always, it’s a yes and no situation.
When you apologize fully, you are taking full responsibility for not only your actions, but the feelings the other person manifested from those actions. Sometimes, your actions elicited the emotions you expected them to, making it easier to take ownership. Other times, the emotions of the other person seem to come out of nowhere, obvious to many it wasn’t the actual situation that created the negative feelings, but nonetheless they are there and need tending to. It’s understandable not to want to apology for feelings you feel have nothing to do with you, but they are there, and arose due to the situation. If you are to blame at all for the situation, it’s important to take your lumps and help your friend to heal.
A lot of this boils down to perception. A lot of times, you are apologizing for their perception of the situation, and not the situation itself. You may be apologizing for a completely absurd reason in your mind, but the person aggrieved, feels differently. Is it more important to maintain a blameless position while your friend needs something from you? Is your ego so important? I can really only speak for myself, but there was a time when my ego was more important. I didn’t want to be seen as a mean, or a negative person. I didn’t want to see my actions as hurting anyone, when I knew my intent was never to do so. I had to add caveats to my apologies to make sure I was only apologizing for their perception of the situation, not my reality of what happened. In truth, sometimes I apologized just to change the record.
I’ve begun to realize the power of an authentic apology recently. As I am always in a state of constant reflection, I happened to be looking at apologies I had given, I had received, and I had witness; all different in their acceptance, delivery, and in the end, effectiveness. I felt the need to look deeper at them all, kind of saddened by the process, but left hopeful as I feel I know now what makes a good apology stick. I also feel I found the good in less than genuine apologies, which I will admit takes more graciousness on the recipient.
An apology is nothing more than words. Yes it feels great when you receive one that is genuine. With those apologies, it’s possible to repair connections stronger than ever. With those it feels the parties understand each other and the situation in an effort not to repeat. With those apologies, all parties feel respected. It’s easy to receive these apologies, and actually great to deliver them. The ability to apologize with your true self aids you in so many things, but going real selfish with it, it helps you way more than it helps them. Whether the apology is good or bad, it is something to put a period on a situation, allowing the continuation of life to be noticed, as the bag of the animosity as been left on the curb. At some point you get to the realization that an apology is just an apology.
Can I fully say I will accept all bad apologies that come my way? Yes. I will accept them because I don’t have the energy not to. I accept them for me, not only the other person who allowed ego to keep us from moving on. Do I even need apologizes? Well sometimes, but the apology for me just tells me where the relationship can go. If I feel I really need an apology, something pretty bad has happened, and do I want to keep relationships with people who must apology more than a few occasions?
I live a life that craves balance. I crave my own approval and expect a lot from myself. When I apologize, it’s to remove the negative energy from the space I’m in, and with the help of my Buddhist practice, I see the value in allowing others to do the same if they choose to. I apology because intent isn’t everything when someone is hurting. At some point it’s better to acknowledge your friend is hurting, and do what it takes to help them heal.
So I will probably receive more, ” I’m sorry, but…” in my life. I guess the best thing for me would be not to be the one saying it. It’s a start.