No one ever apologized in my family. It always felt unsafe to admit to any misstep and to be or feel that vulnerable. Feelings were just not expressed or tolerated in my family. I always thought apologizing would give people greater power to hurt me. So I grew up with this faulty belief that admitting to a wrong, taking responsibility for something I said that was mean, or critical, or whatever, was going to make things worse.
Sometimes, it’s still hard for me to apologize. But today I do it…it might take me a day or two to get there, so I have learned to acknowledge that and to openly ask for that time. I meditate, pray, and when I am ready, I apologize. And, remarkably, I’ve found it often brings me closer to the person to whom I have apologized.
Recently, I apologized to a good friend for coming across critically (I was feeling critical). I had tried to teach her something I thought would help her market her business. She had shared that she was struggling financially, which made me feel anxious for her. But she was not ready or interested, at that time, in learning about or even listening to what I was suggesting. My motives were good. I felt so strongly I could help her. But that was my agenda, not hers. When she expressed little to no interest in what I had to offer, my ego went into full swing. I did come across as critical. Of course she felt criticized.
I’m truly sorry. I apologized, genuinely. She forgave me and said she understood. But even if she hadn’t, I’d decided I would see this recent experience as an important lesson I needed to learn. Hopefully, next time I find myself in a similar situation, that lesson will be front and center and it will have impact on what I say and do . If not, I’ll apologize, again. I’m getting better at it!
What does apologizing mean to you?
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, firstname.lastname@example.org