Sunday, November 16, 2014

Saying Your Sorry When You're Not


The original purpose of blogging was journaling

Sometimes we writers think we have something figured out and we'd like to share our "wisdom." I am able to rationalize this seemingly arrogant behavior by saying that I merely repackage other wisdom in a way that will hopefully be easier for some group of people to understand. In other words, just as one modern Bible translation appeals to you, but another translation appeals to your friend, I generally only see myself as creating a translation of some bit of useful stuff.

But today I'd rather share my thought journey in hopes that maybe it will help me to wrap my arms around some bits of understanding that still escape my pea brain or shriveled up old heart. Maybe you can add some of your own thoughts to help me out. In other words, today's post is personal journaling.

I suffer from having a very hard time apologizing for things that I don't believe were wrong, shouldn't have been hurtful, or for which there was a solid defense even if I did something which appeared wrong on its face.  My first inclination is to say that this stems from my very logical way of looking at life. My second thought is that 3 years of law school hammered in the ideas of intent, defenses, etc.

So, if I'm late for an appointment, and it was really important to you that I be on time, I can be sorry that I was late, but I do expect to be able to make my explanation like: I had a flat tire; or my neighbor had a heart attack just as I was leaving. In this case I'm sorry that the circumstances created unhappiness, but I'm not apologizing for my behavior.

If I'm late because I didn't get my rear end in gear, then I should apologize and ask for forgiveness. It is all about my failure and boorish behavior.

But what if the other person got the time wrong? What if I arrived at the time scheduled and have the proof on an email from them. Now they are expressing frustration or even anger about my being inconsiderate of their feelings. My inclination is to state my position. I arrived at the appointed time. Some in that situation will then accuse me of being defensive. I stand guilty of being defensive. But if I don't apologize, the next step is to be accused of not taking responsibility.

So, I could "die to self." Just say I'm sorry, and I'll try to do better in the future. Here is my concern. If I do that, can't my action be seen as enabling. Especially if this is a recurrent theme. In other words, the person has not taken responsibility for their own incorrect action, and has brow beaten me into saying sorry when I don't mean it. Am I just trying to be right in this case, or should I stand my ground.

One friend says that I will likely win the battle and lose the war. I'm not sure that losing the battle in these kinds of cases won't end up in battle scars that might make winning the war seem like a pyrrhic victory.

Please give me some much needed words of wisdom here.

1 comment:

  1. I used to be that highly defensive person for so many years. Then I saw it passed on to my child, and I realized . . . uh oh. I hope that most of the time now I do not offer excuses. It's a strong tendency. But the truth is, usually, I could she avoid that "unavoidable" circumstance. I could have left myself a buffer for time. I could have not done that last thing that needed to be done. Almost always, the excuses are just that, and they sound far worse to the person than a simple, "I blew it. I'm sorry."

    Having said that, as I get older I am realizing more and more there are things I do not need to apologize for or explain. "I'm sorry, but this is the time I have written down," would be one of them. It's not my job to make people happy or make sure they think well of me. It's my job to keep my commitments and be responsible and loving. So if i am quite sure I am not in the wrong, no apology. But always in a kind way.

    Also, one sincere apology is enough, and if the person persists and can't let go, that's not my problem.