It’s definitely not a competition, so let’s not take the spirit of this quote the wrong way. Apologizing isn’t about being “first” at anything – if that’s your intention or motivation, be sure to follow-up with me next post on forgiveness. And, if it is, you’re human – it’s a certitude that there are times, particularly when dealing with someone who’s just completely burned you – that ‘killing them with kindness’ is all too tempting. But let’s face it, ‘killing them with kindness’ is a dolled-up way of reciprocating the dickheadedness. So, that we’re all in honest agreement – and on the same page about that bullshit – I’ll get on with the Anatomy of an Apology.
Apologizing is, for the most part, in our culture, a hollow act. Sorry if that’s offensive (see what I mean? I’m not sorry at all…); but it’s completely true. Children are raised to apologize for developmentally appropriate behavior before they are developmentally even able to empathize. A true apology, in its sincerest form, comes from the ability to empathize with the one we’ve slighted, offended, or outright been a douchetard to – and say we’re sorry. Of course, my bright readers, friends, and clients – you know this. But wait, there’s MORE!
An evolved apology looks something like the above. It isn’t about who is right/wrong – or weighing in on the douchetard heavyweight scale. You know you’ve reached a level of maturation and generosity of spirit when you’re above that – because you truly do value your relationship more than your own ego. This is the point at which you are a collaborator, a problem-solver, and focused on a greater good than being the ‘winner’. And, I know, dear readers, friends, and lovely clients – that you already have been here too. You’re so fucking awesome!
When I read the second sentence of this image above, this is where there’s something missing, in my experience. I combed the inspirational boards on Pinterest, weheartit, etc. (frankly, my search for a visual representation of the kind of forgiveness I want to share with you was exhaustive) to no avail. Here’s the reframe:
“It just means you value your relationship with your self, more than your ego” ~ Tara Michelucci
That’s my spin on it folks. You are SO much more than the mind-chatter going on inside, you are more than the sum of your experiences, you are more than your ego. I’m sure many of you have lovely egos – you probably work at keeping it healthy and have a loving relationship with it. And that there is my point. A dysfunctional ego (which we all have, it’s a matter of reigning it in, and working with it), is the root of our problems. So when you apologize, let your motivation be empathy, creative solutions and cooperation, and always, always – strengthening the relationship between your Self and your ego.
Furthermore, when you do apologize, with all of those beautiful motivations and juicy rewards – understand that your apology is independent of forgiveness from anyone other than your Self. And, since you are already apologizing – you have express forgiveness from your Self. Not everyone is going to forgive you when you apologize. That doesn’t make your apology less worthy, nor does it make them less worthy of receiving the apology.
Like I said, we have all been conditioned with some fundamentally dysfunctional, illogical, and flat-out erroneous concepts of the apology/forgiveness exchange. That’s my breakdown of the Anatomy of an Apology – in it’s most intentional, healthiest form. Next topic, Forgiveness.
In the meantime: What are your ideas about apologizing? How does it work/not work for you? I would love to know your experiences with apologizing – both successes and “failures”.