Could Apologizing Actually Cause Harm?
by Jackie McLaughlin
In today's world, we apologize to other people for a variety of experiences which we personally deem to be inconvenient in one way or another. Parents will apologize to total strangers for not being able to control their child's public tantrums. Children will apologize to their parents for not making it to the bathroom in time. Adults will apologize to their friends or family for not being able to attend a social gathering. We are almost constantly apologizing to other people for even the smallest of mishaps, and may even find ourselves apologizing for incidents that we are personally and heavily struggling with. Whether or not the apology is actually accepted has nothing to do with the apology itself, and everything to do with the person being apologized to and their own feelings of worthiness or entitlement.
We have become so accustomed to apologizing to others for our actions or beliefs, that in turn, we now expect apologies from people whom we believe have caused us some kind of personal harm or misfortune. Hanging onto the need for an apology in this way not only chains us to any pain we feel inside, but also misplaces the blame for our own negative feelings onto the very person we are seeking the apology from. As a result, many of our apologies have turned into a method of not just validating another person's emotional discord, but of invalidating our own self-worth. We are literally sabotaging each others' guidance systems.
What could possibly be even more detrimental to our emotional guidance system than misplacing blame for our personal feelings? Apologizing to anyone for being who we are and for choosing what makes us happy. By apologizing in ways such as this, we are relinquishing control over our own emotions, discrediting our choices, and empowering the other party to believe that their resentful feelings surrounding the situation are not of their own choice, but are rather a result of another person's actions.
Rather than blurting out apologies left and right for being or causing an inconvenience to someone else, and rather than expecting apologies from other people for our own uncomfortable feelings, let us instead express ourselves to each other in a way that says we are truly sorry that the other person is experiencing any kind of suffering as a result of external actions, choices, or beliefs. Let us communicate to each other, the imperfectly perfect people of the world, that though our intentions are pure, our actions may sometimes be misguided. Let us say not just to each other but to ourselves that we will truly learn from our mistakes, and that as we move forward, we will carry with us clarity and compassion as tokens of what has passed. Let us teach each other that instead of seeking apologies, relief, or validation from a source outside ourselves, we will no longer allow another person's actions or feelings to be a reason for our own misery. Let us move forward in forgiving ourselves for seeking solace and happiness from others, and relieve ourselves from looking to others so heavily for acceptance and worthiness.
Most importantly, let us move forward in loving who we are individually and collectively so much that if another person's actions, choices, or beliefs should invoke a tenderness within us, we will be so secure in our own happiness and self-love that we can accept others for who they are without feeling slighted or depleted by their choices.
Little by little and person to person, I ask you to stop apologizing for who you are. Little by little and person to person, I ask you to stop hoping for an apology from someone whom you believe has done you wrong. Only when we accept our feelings, experiences, choices, and beliefs for where they have brought us, can we truly move past our internal struggles and regain control of our emotions.
The person who is in control of their own emotions is in control of their own happiness.
About the Author
Jackie McLaughlin is a Reiki Practitioner, Wellness Guide, and founder of The Healing Crow in New Hampshire. Her focus and joy lies in guiding her community towards self-awareness and self-love. Jackie truly believes we are all in this together. More information regarding her background and beliefs can be found at www.thehealingcrow.com