Stop “apologizing”

Apologies assume:

  • Someone hurt someone else.
  • Someone did something wrong.
  • Someone needs to fix the hurt in order to make things right.

None of this makes sense.

“I’m sorry I hurt you. What I did was wrong. I promise not to do it again. Please forgive me.”

To this, I respond:

  • You didn’t hurt me.
  • You didn’t do anything wrong.
  • You can’t predict the future.
  • You don’t need my forgiveness.
  • I would rather talk about my pain, not yours.

Let’s back up a bit.

Suppose I say: “You broke my favorite toy. I would like you to apologize.” What is it I would like?

I suck at apologizing and I think I know why: it’s because I don’t know how to receive apologies myself.

So, I’m working on that: insisting that people apologize when I feel hurt.

But, as I said, I don’t like apologies.

I want to go deeper.

Most people pretend to be satisfied with a BS apology, because they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want the other person to feel bad. So, they pretend to “forgive” them.

Meanwhile, they’re not satisfied and they get resentful. (And the other person thinks the apology “worked”.)

Again, suppose I say:

“You broke my favorite toy. I would like you to apologize,” and you respond, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it.”

This doesn’t satisfy me.

You think by asking for an apology, I want reassurance. It’s like if you could help me see that you didn’t mean to do it, then I’d have no reason to be angry at you, and thus I would calm down and everyone would be happy.

But…I’m not angry at YOU.

I’m just angry.

I don’t want to know you didn’t mean to do it. Believe it or not, I want to know you DID mean to do it.

But, it’s risky for you to tell me you meant to do it, because it opens you up to a whole new line of attack. Yet, it’s what I’m looking for.

So, why would I want you to tell me you DID mean to do it?

Because: the alternative is for me to blame myself. I want to know why you did it so that I can see that YOU did it. Otherwise, I’ll be wondering, “was I just being oversensitive?

You can just say: “yes, I did it, and I meant to do it, and here’s why I did it, and here’s the benefit I got from doing it.”

It’s risky to say this, but I won’t be satisfied until I hear it.

You can accept responsibility without accepting blame.

Give me some examples of when apologies felt satisfying vs. unsatisfying. I want to flesh this out.

(Also, look into Nonviolent Communication for more about why it’s not possible to “hurt” people or doing anything “wrong”.)


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