Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Apology: A Lost Art and Skill?
What is the matter with people today? What ever happened to a simple, "I'm sorry," to handle situations before they get all blown up out of proportion? Why do people think they have to battle for being right instead of kind?
An apology is not an admission of"guilt" or of being "wrong" or even of being "bad." (Though it certainly can be--and if you're guilty of something bad, or merely wrong, speak up and admit it as soon as possible; don't try to justify it or make excuses.) Respond quickly with "I'm sorry," shows that you didn't intend it or hurt someone on purpose. How else would they know? If you just insist that you didn't do anything "wrong" that doesn't address the problem. It's like answering a question about emotions and behavior with a mathematical solution...sort of like apples and oranges...it just doesn't fit. "Why did you throw away the cake I baked for you?" "Six times 6 is definitely 36, and if you don't believe that, too friggin' bad. I'm right." What does that have to do with cake and hurt feelings?
So...an apology is a response to another person's feelings. If you claim to love the person, you will care about their feelings and be moved to respond to them and put making yourself right on a back burner, for godsake. You will respond with an apology if you see that someone is hurt and angry over something you did--even if you didn't do it on purpose or intend to hurt the person. If you hit them with your car because you didn't see them, you didn't maliciously hit them, but certainly if they were injured you would respond with concern, not try to make it all justified and declare they were at fault for the accident by being injured. That is all backwards. You can apologize for hurting someone, even if it was an unintended accident.
Saying the other person has no right to feel hurt or angry, that you didn't mean to hurt them, is the same excuse a pedophile uses...he didn't mean to hurt the little children, he loved them, they shouldn't feel bad or hurt or angry. HAH.
And this new age attitude that we are responsible for everything that happens to us, is just a way for crude, unkind people to let themselves off the hook for being nice to the rest of the world. More of the "blame the victim" methodology. Why don't people just realize that what they say and do can be misunderstood or it can directly cause pain and suffering for others. Things we do, cut people to the soul. We can gain our own peace of mind (egotistically at least) by making everyone responsible for their own hurt feelings. In my opinion, the joy and humor in today's world based on being mean to other people (especially on those reality shows and talent shows) is downright immoral, abusive and cruel. People may have the right to be that way, but they do need to realize the consequences that behavior has on others and eventually themselves. It is not funny for a judge in a contest to rudely tell someone who just sang their heart out that they "stink, so get off the stage." There is a way to be critical without being judgmental and hurtful. But if people don't seem to know that, telling them that isn't going to work. The only think I can do is hope those mean people are on the receiving end of unjustified attack someday so they'll understand how it feels and can adjust their behavior accordingly.
Arguing with a hurt person that they have no "reason" to feel hurt, doesn't take the hurt away either. It makes it worse. It's a flaming indication that your feelings are way more important than anyone else's. The question becomes then, not would you rather be right or happy, but would you rather be right or kind. Choosing being right regardless of everything else speaks loudly in it's silence. And it is not a pretty message. It is just sad.
Blaming a person after they respond to something you did, using it as an excuse for what you started in the first place, isn't fair. It's a way to make your own feelings feel okay again, not helping the situation or other person at all. So criticizing them or getting angry that they reacted out of pain and anger to something you did is NOT an indication that what you did was "justified" and they deserved it. Just look how they took it, they must have deserved it, right? NO WAY.
I am a very loving, supportive, forgiving, giving, caring person. But if I don't receive apologies from loved ones and dear friends, I am not going make all the effort to heal relationships by myself. I am not going to give out blanket forgiveness to unapologetic people. I am out of the door-mat business, so if someone wants to be in my life again, if they genuinely care about me and my feelings, they can show it the way I have requested they show it. Say you're sorry. I am not bending over backwards to do all the fixing and sucking up to others so they will "like" me. They can suck up to me and try to fix their rude, mean, unkind behavior. I am tired of being the one that gives up my feelings and consideration for my own well-being so that everyone else can feel okay and comfortable all the time.