3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Apologizing
We are adults who have not learned how to apologize properly.
As I ate dinner with my family in a restaurant and discussing something about the kids with my elder sister and mother, suddenly disagreement with my sister sparked to the level of argument. This could have been calmed down with my silence, but I don't take insults and call people out for their inappropriate behavior, especially when it is in the family.
I was hurt by her words and insults in front of her whole family.
This is because when you allow insults from your family members, they consider it their right to do so in the future too. Some people think that by getting a bit more money, they gain the right to use money as a source to buy people's obedience. I like money, but the money I make on my own. It is the reason I don't enjoy receiving gifts as I consider it a source of influence on doing something I don't want.
In the heat of the moment, she would say whatever she could think of and then say to my mother that she forgot about it and I should too; she then start behaving as if nothing had happened and if the situation had gone too far, she will remedy it with money — with the gift of shoes, clothes or any other thing she deems as right.
Similarly, the same case is with my friend in the workplace. We will argue over something, then stop talking to each other for days, and one day he will start talking to me as if nothing has happened. He favors me by forgetting all about it and asking me not to live in the past.
The thing with forget and forgive is that it always repeats itself. You always forgive without the offer of apology, you let go of the hurt that was not healed; it stays with you whenever you see that person. The relationship thus is never the same and you feel alienated.
Even if someone is compelled to say sorry, they will rather apologize for the hurt you felt, not that they have done something wrong; I feel people are not able to accept their humanness and their vulnerability. When they choose vulnerability, it sparks authenticity, they look more genuine, and their apology feels from their hearts.
1. Why Are You Apologizing
My little sister, let's say, Meena, is a sweet person, she feels good for me and often makes mistakes; sensing that I got sad she comes to my room and utters these words. I apologize for hurting your feelings.
I utilize these moments to have a good conversation with her.
I am not someone who ignores or forgets things when they cause hurt. While I don't judge people based on previous experience, I do ask them to share their opinions of the situation.
I asked Meena what she was apologizing for.
She replied, "I made you feel hurt."
This is the most generalized thing to say as she was focusing on me getting hurt, and not what caused it. I reminded her that I would feel hurt by the little things she does, and sometimes I would feel hurt by her good things and self-care, she would apologize then too.
Sensing the confusion I reminded her that if she is apologizing she should first clear her 'why' as it is something with her. I asked her to give me the reason and ignore the hurt for a moment, and luckily she said the words were inappropriate for me to say to you.
The 'why' was now clear. She is apologizing for the inappropriate words she used as a joke. I agree, and she senses that.
2. Why It Should Not Have Happened
When we understand the real reason behind her apology I ask her why I consider it emotionally hurting. I explained that words for affirmation are my primary language, and I expect and want people to use softer words to each other.
I feel insults in gestures and words. I take people’s words seriously and I want them to give me the same kind of treatment as I did to others. I am someone who has not cursed a single human in the memories that I can consciously relate to, I give respect to others and always give them my best. I ask my sister that because I am good to her, she should be kind towards me too. She agreed and said, "You are never rude or unkind to me, and you deserve sincere kindness."
I deserve an apology because I deserve better treatment than the one she gave me.
3. What Are You Going to Do in the Future?
The best to end an apology is the rectification of future scenarios. When you are rude to someone pledge to be polite to them in the future; when you are admitted to something, suggest the ways you will reform yourself.
I asked her what she was going to do in the future if she faced the same situation. She says now I understand how words matter to you, unlike how I behave with my friends or others, I will keep this important aspect in my mind and will say my frustrations in sweet words.
As we laugh, we understand the power of true apology. We often force people to apologize, to just hurt their egos. While mere words are not an apology, it is sometimes a defensive act to save ourselves from any consequences or the benefit we are having from someone.
I believe in authenticity, and it only comes from showing our vulnerability; if we don't understand that it is not merely the hurt the person felt but also our unkind actions that cause it, will truly make us realize the importance of living well while caring for each other in the community. The person might feel hurt for varying reasons, understanding that they deserve better put it in context and show the intensity of the situation.
I often ask people before accepting the apology, if they are going to repeat it, then save this apology for the next one and say it all at one time; because it is an insult to the person to use words of apology to manipulate him to disregard any possible consequences.
The act of apology is simple when we ask the above three questions from ourselves. We do not need to explain, justify, and gift material things to seek an apology, a true, intentional acknowledgment, and possible redressal will suffice.
When you say something, mean it. ☺️
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your quality time, feedback, and encouragement. The above real-life examples are part of my imagination to help put the insights in context, anything related to reality is merely a coincidence.