What happens when we don’t communicate effectively there is disintegration and undermining of understanding, which leads to irrational behavior. When cooler heads prevail or hindsight is the new view finder lens an apology can be made. This is where it can and many times does go radically wrong again. One of the most important things that any couple can do when apologizing is OWN their feelings. This isn’t even about owning up to what you or they have or have not done. Let’s face it; for the most part, all parties are aware of what’s gone on. It’s not like it’s a surprise.
Let’s dissect it this way. When someone says “I’m really sorry that I shouted like that, but, you always make me so mad!” There are three things that are fundamentally wrong with that apology.
- Shifting the blame for your behavior onto someone else; that’s a no no! You are responsible for how you feel.
- How you act and or react to any given situation is a choice. You get to choose if you are mad or not and then how you express it.
- Not taking responsibility for your action in whatever given situation is another incendiary stance that will create more irrational behavior or at the very least in an apology can be viewed as a slap in the face.
So saying “I’m really sorry that I shouted like that, but, you always make me so mad !” is not an apology it’s an explanation. Most people know the difference. At an intrinsic level we know what an apology is. You see everyone knows that we can’t make anyone feel anything unless they choose it.
A better way to apologize is to own it. By own it, I mean to take ownership of your feelings and how you have chosen to react to the situation. Note: This isn’t about condoning someone’s bad behavior towards you or you towards them…this is about the right way to say, I’m sorry.
And there is a right and wrong way. The right way expressing yourself in an apology should be something like this, “I’m really sorry that I shouted like that. I always make myself mad in these situations!” That is ownership! Apologies like that it not accusatory nor does it shift the blame or negate responsibility.
Look at the two apologies:
“I’m really sorry that I shouted like that. But, you always make me so mad!”
“I’m really sorry that I shouted like that. I always make myself so mad!”
Whenever making an apology, if you use the term “you always” give yourself an immediate check up from the neck up. Reframe your thought and delivery process by owning your feelings. Replace you always with, I always.
Dr Wendy Dearborne is a choice expert and holistic life coach contact her firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-425-8589
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