Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Types of Apologies (Part 5)...and other Ramblings

This is probably the last post in my dorky little series. 

I'm going to go over the apologies that are the most noble.  No matter who we are, we all have a dark side and a light side. Or to put in another way, we all have both the angel and the devil on our shoulders.  The apologies below are the ones that come from the angel. 

I'm trying to decide if I should talk about the two apologies as one, because they are very similar.  But then I'd feel I was breaking a pattern. Or....I don't know.

I'm going to try talking about the apologies individually.  We'll see how that goes.

12. SHAME-Too much shame and guilt can be paralyzing and unproductive. But without shame, we'd all probably be awful to each other. 

Shame apologies come from when we realize we haven't lived up to our own moral code, and we feel the need to reach out and say sorry. Although I guess this point would be mute if our moral code doesn't include admitting mistakes and apologizing.  But if YOUR moral code does include all this, you probably have issued a shame apology sometime in your life.

Shame apologies aren't the only ones that come from a place of shame. The manipulative apologies will sometimes come from there as well. The difference is the Shame Apologizer is mature enough to not try to hide behind their mistakes. They take on the blame rather than passing the blame.

From personal experience, I'll say it doesn't always come easy.  I've had times where I realized I owed someone an apology, but I hesitated with rationalizations. Well, this person has done rude things to me. Have THEY apologized?  Did I really do anything that wrong?  Am I going to make things worse by bringing it up?  Should the past stay in the past?

And there are apologies I still have not issued for various rationalizations.  Some of these rationalizations might have validity, so the apologies might never happen....

BUT...I think I'm going on a tangent here.

Getting back on track....

I think in most cases, Shame apologies have these qualities:

A) No expectation or demand for forgiveness.  We might wish for forgiveness, but there's an understanding that it might not happen.  I think this in theory.  In reality, it's unfortunately a different story.  My feelings are more along the lines of, Well, I don't need that person's friendship anyway. I don't need friends, period. And then I have brief fantasies of something tragic happening to me and the person feeling guilty for not forgiving me in a timely fashion.

I'm mature enough to issue shame apologies. I'm not emotionally mature enough to get past the mindset of, fuck it. I'll reject you before you can reject me. 

B) No expectation of an apology from the person you're apologizing too. It's not like the Olive Branch Apology I wrote about in my last post, where you feel the other party behaved equally wrong.  In the Shame Apology, you understand the focus is on YOUR mistake.  Even if the other person has wronged you in the past, it's not time to deal with those issues.  If you DO make it about those issues, then the apology is probably more of a Victimhood one.

C) The apology doesn't happen at the time of confrontation.  If someone at the dinner table calls you out on something you said, and you say sorry, it's probably at best a damage control apology.  At worst, it might turn into one of the more manipulative apologies.

With a Shame Apology, I think we need time to reflect. I don't think it can usually happen immediately—on the spot. We need time to think about what we've done and time to start feeling guilt about what we've done. 

Now I'm wondering, though, if I need to add another apology.

What is it when you confront someone, and they respond in a non-manipulative way, and they actually seem to feel bad for what they have done? I guess it could be included in the Shame Apology. I hesitate, though, because I think people need time to reflect.

Then again if we confront someone via email, or other written communication, they might have time to reflect...if they allow themselves that.  So maybe I should include it in the Shame Apology.  Maybe I'll just think of it as a slightly lesser form.

There's just something about someone coming out from nowhere and owning up to their mistake. 

There's a difference between writing someone and them responding with, I'm sorry I said that. It was rude. I feel ashamed for what I did, and someone writing without prompt, I've been thinking about how I treated you at Grandma's funeral, and I'm really ashamed. 

13. EMPATHY APOLOGIES-These apologies are very similar to Shame Apologies. The difference is that with Shame Apologies, our focus is more on ours selves. We want to be our best selves, and apologies help us do that. With Empathy Apologies, we feel the pain (real or imagined) of the person we hurt.

Empathy apologies don't feel good. They might make us feel sick inside. At least, they are that way for me. 

I have given Empathy Apologies, but I think most of my more noble apologies are SHAME ones. I'm more focused on self-improvement than actually feeling the pain of the person I might have hurt.

I'm not sure why.

It could be a simply empathy issue.  In some ways, I think I'm over-empathetic.  I feel like I might be an empath.  But in other ways, I feel I lack empathy. I feel cold-hearted to the point of psychopathy.  What's strange is, I think I feel the most empathy over other people's guilt. So I'll feel more bad for person who's done wrong to me, and I imagine they're feeling awful over it, than I do for someone who has been wronged by me. 

I doubt that's normal.

But anyway...besides that, I think there are other things that led me to be more me-focused than them-focused.

A) The person has done equally bad things, or even worse things. Then my mindset is more, I'm not pleased with myself that I sunk to this level. But I'm not particularly bothered that it happened to you. I'd probably be okay if Karma had taken care of it. Then I could enjoy the punishment without the guilt of having served it. 

B) I don't have a strong emotional attachment to the person. 

C) I don't have any evidence that the person is angry or hurt...or if I knew they once had these feelings, by the time I realize I'm sorry, I don't know if they're still having these feelings. 

I could look at it through the opposite lens.  There are people in my life whom I feel owe me a Shame Apology.  I think less of them because I've never received one.  But do I feel they need to feel empathy for me?  No.  Because I'm no longer hurting over it.  Well, I'm not hurting over the initial behavior. I do still feel hurt/anger over the reactions...such as gaslighting.

Even though I might no longer feel hurt over the initial behavior, I do look down at the persons for having the behavior. And I look down at them even more for either not apologizing and/or for using manipulative apologies. 

Well, I was going to end this here, but I feel compelled to add in another apology. It's a not-so-good offshoot of the shame and empathy apology.  This would be The Confessional Apology.  This is where we feel compelled to come clean, but we should have just kept our mouth shut.

Example: When we were in high school, I thought you were really ugly. That's why I never wanted to hang out with you at school. I was embarrassed of being seen with you.  But I'm no longer superficial like that. Now I feel really bad about how I acted. I'm sorry

If there's a secret and it might come out, or the person already suspects the truth, it might be best to come forward with an apology. If it's just in our head, it's probably best to just keep it hidden there.

Some of fall into the mindset that 100% honestly makes a relationship stronger. But I've come to learn that secrets can sometimes be a good thing.

Shit. I was about to end again, and I thought of something else.  What if someone suspects we feel a certain way, and confront us on it? Should we confess the truth?

Aaaah!  I don't know!!

Well....

I think if they have good evidence to support their idea, it might be best to be honest. Otherwise, it  can turn into a gaslighting situation.  If our behavior is evidence of our secret feelings, we might try  to deny the behavior has happened. I think it's better to be hurtfully honest than to gaslight. 

Example: You never text me anymore. Do you not want to be friends?  

I think it's better to say something like, I think we're just kind of growing apart. It happens sometimes, than to sit there and try to deny that there's been a reduction in texts. 

On the other hand, if someone's suspicions are based not on action but on paranoia; even if their paranoia matches the truth, there's probably not much harm in pretending all is fine. 

Okay. Now I'm going to shut up. For real this time.