How often have you had someone do or say something to you, and you felt ‘offended’ (to use a word that is now so commonplace, it is actually used as an excuse for not dealing with our inner game.)
And what if now you feel different about that person because of what they said or did? This often happens when someone you trust, breaks trust. Irresponsibility breaks trust. Ignoring a commitment breaks trust. Betrayal breaks trust.
It happens all the time to many people. Someone you ‘thought’ was a friend betrays you. What happens to the relationship? It usually ends…sometimes after a yelling match, and sometimes through utter silence.
No further communication happens between the parties involved. No one knows what to say, or one person feels the other one should say something first, as that person was the ‘offender.’ And the other person just ‘can’t’ say anything because they either lack the tools to know what or how to say anything, or they don’t believe they are at fault. Or the same issue has come up over and over again, and one party is just tired of making full out attempts to help fix it, with no action, commitment, or effort from the other party.
What if you are the one who has committed the ‘offense.’ You might not even know you committed it. The other person did not even offer up that you did this or that. And they avoid you. And you don’t know why. Or if they did let you know what you said or did, they are not interested in listening to you. They have made their mind up that you are wrong, and there is no fixing it. What can you do? Sometimes nothing more. We call it ‘letting go.’
If apologizing is in order, without the entire story laid out, and all the pieces put on the table, the puzzle cannot come together for a complete picture of what happened. Therefore, it makes it hard for someone to apologize. And, most often, an apology is not enough anyway.
So, first communication has to happen. Then the next step in ‘the fix’ will become clearer. Then those who feel they need to hold themselves accountable (and most likely all parties will feel this way when all the puzzle pieces are laid out on the table), can hold themselves in their new truth—which probably wasn’t new at all, but now is acknowledged.
When the issue is truly lack of communication, nothing will move. People don’t suddenly wake up one morning and say, “Gee, I think I’ll call XYZ and just say let’s call it ‘water under the bridge,’ and let’s move on.” If this does happen, it is most often because one party is an enabler, and does not know how else to ‘make it all go away,’ except by saying “Oh, it’s really not that bad. Let’s just forget about it and move on.” This person doesn’t know how, or doesn’t want, to deal with the ‘ugly.’ The uncomfortable. The unknowing.
“Water under the bridge” is only truly possible after there has been some form of communication about the issue. When a situation takes place, and no one says anything, and both parties end up not talking to each other, ever, again, I’d be willing to bet this won’t happen.
So now, what if it’s you who did the offense? Are you comfortable with apologizing? Remember, just an apology does not often work very well. What else is there?
You have to be accountable. You have to take full responsibility for what you said or did, and what was created because you waited so long to say anything. This is uncomfortable. Most people just don’t want to go there. How do you do this? Sum up your courage (more about this next week). Yep, you need courage.
First you need to acknowledge what you said or did. This internal dialogue will help you in becoming a stronger person. It doesn’t feel good. Finding comfort in this process is not easy. And like anything else, when you do it over and over, it becomes easier and easier. And in there lies your newfound strength.
You must take full responsibility and stop using the words “well, it was because of xyz (extenuating circumstance).” Whenever you attempt to add an element of “why,” you are deflecting that you were truly responsible for making a decision that now turns out was detrimental to your relationship. You are still not holding yourself in full responsibility. So, muster up your courage and do this:
Step 1: Acknowledge your responsibility fully, no one, or no thing, to blame. When you take full responsibility that you did make a decision all of your own accord, you will now get the other party’s attention. It helps them get out of defensive mode. Their body often begins to relax.
Step 2: Acknowledge that your words and/or actions were detrimental to the other party, and how they affected the other party. And how it must have made them feel. And that you understand her/his reactions to your original actions/words.
Step 3: Now you offer the apology while looking at them straight in their eyes.
Step 4: Tell them what you will be doing to be sure it never happens again. (training, mentoring, counseling, therapy, etc.)
Step 5: Offer the apology again.
Then wait for the response. Here is where they might ask you why. Great time to answer (without passing the blame).
While these steps seem simple, they can still be very hard to do. Let yourself feel the ‘uncomfort’ of the process, and do it anyway. When you have completed it, a huge weight will be lifted, you will physically feel lighter, your head will feel clear, your heart can breathe better, and you will have helped mend your relationship. Now you can move on and upward. You will find comfort in your apology. Tremendous comfort.
Clara E Minor is Master Instructor/Trainer at MINORSAN Self-Defense & Fitness. She works with people who have a hard time standing up for themselves and don’t feel very good about their bodies. She helps them feel great in their bodies, feel fantastic about their bodies, and live their lives in fearlessness. You can reach her via the website contact page.