Being able to apologize is a sign of strength, not weakness. A couple of blogs I read today implied that one should never apologize, that it’s a sign of weakness, that it will just cause people to smell blood and go in for the kill.
Good grief! Sometimes I feel like we need to go back to 4th grade and do a refresher course on basic manners and how to act like a human. This kind of foolishness is just tortuous to a mother’s heart.
Everybody, absolutely everybody, can cause unintentional or even intentional harm to others during the course of the day. Being aware of that is not weakness, its common sense. Actually, the ability to recognize and accept that truth, requires a certain amount of courage right out of the gate.
We don’t apologize on behalf of others so much, we apologize on behalf of ourselves. It’s simply an acknowledgment of our own imperfections and inability to control all things at all times. Sometimes it is about empathizing with others and wanting to provide some comfort, but for the most part, it is really a statement about our own selves and the kind of people we wish to be. To apologize is admit we have high standards, standards we often fall short of, but standards just the same. To admit you were wrong, is to admit you think highly of yourself.
It’s actually a real sign of insecurity and brokeness to be afraid to ever admit you are wrong, least it somehow crush your whole psyche or encourage others to go in for the kill. Fear, insecurity, brokeness all meet my definition of “weakness.” Narcissists often are incapable of apologizing because there is damage there that prevents them from perceiving their selves as flawed in any way. It’s not that they refuse to apologize, they simply cannot. To do so would shatter that narcissistic mirror that reflects reality back to them.
Normal, healthy, strong people apologize frequently. We step on toes, we drop doors on people, we make hand signals in traffic, we speak too harshly, we lose our temper, we say things we didn’t mean. We snap, we scowl, we become self-absorbed and we don’t recognize the needs of others. It’s just life.
My husband apologizes a couple of times a day to me and he’s far from weak nor do I perceive it that way. It’s very sweet, actually. Often he snaps something distractedly and it comes out sounding harsher than he intended. He’s very good at recognizing that. I tend to apologize frequently, too. Somebody smart once said marriage was just one act of forgiveness after another. Absolutely. To not recognize those tiny slights when they occur, would be like bottling them all up until the pressure builds and the top blows.
My kids, in spite of their independent and defiant natures, are pretty good at admitting when they are wrong, too. Most of the people I chose to spend time around are. I tend to avoid people who believe they’re perfect. I think they’re kind of creepy.
The world however, my goodness! What has happened to people? Not long ago a woman on her cell phone rammed her cart into my stalled car. I wasn’t even moving and she starting screaming at me about how I’m supposed to be watching where I’m going. People will call my house and have the wrong number and rather than saying, “sorry wrong number,” they’ll slam the phone down as if it’s my fault they can’t push buttons properly.
I love my job, but when others make a mistake they seldom just say so. Oh no, instead they try to lie, distort, deceive, and pin it on someone else. It’s a foolish, weak, shame based reaction, especially silly because nobody cares! Nobody is moving up the corporate ladder, nobody is going to win any favor, there’s no prize handed out at the end of this road. You could just as easily say, “yep, I did that. That was me. Sorry.” Nobody cares! We just want to fix it and move on.
The ability to simply recognize you are wrong and apologize is a real problem all over our culture right now. I’m not sure when we really started to lose our basic manners, but it’s not a good thing. The games people play, the drama, the silliness we can engage is breathtaking sometimes. The real horror however, is that when we cannot ever admit we are wrong it means we don’t even have standards for our own behavior.