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Yesterday’s blog post got quite a reaction from folks. Thank you all for your lovely emails and notes. Yes I apologized to my acquaintance, yes it was accepted and in time healing (whatever that looks like) will emerge. For me the beauty of the apology was that it freed me to see things very differently and let go. I’m calling it a success!
Today as promised, I want to share another piece of Harriet Lerner’s book, Why Can’t You Apologize? that struck a cord with me. That piece surrounds that crazy feeling we as men and women have when someone just won’t apologize no matter what. It’s almost as if it is in their DNA and it can drive one crazy.
This is where Lerner’s wise counsel shines through. She reminds us:
“People’s sense of self-worth is pivotal to their ability to look clearly at the hurt they’ve caused. The more solid one’s sense of self-regard, the more likely that that person can feel empathy and compassion for the hurt party, and apologize from an authentic center”.
“No individual will feel accountable and genuinely remorseful-no matter how well you communicate-if doing so threatens to define him or her in an unacceptable or intolerable way. The other person’s willingness to own up to harmful deeds has nothing to do with how much she or he does or doesn’t love you.”
Lerner goes onto remind us that the capacity to take responsibility, feel empathy and remorse , and offer a meaningful apology is related to how much self-love and self-respect that particular person has available. And we can’t give it to another person; they can only claim that themselves.
Powerful, right? It’s so easy to take it on, second guess ourselves, and think it’s all about us. It’s so easy to beat ourselves and the other person up. But instead, it’s a lot more helpful to remember that it’s really about a person’s own self-love and self-respect. If on some level a person can’t apologize for their actions, Lerner reminds us that it may be their shame taking over as a coping mechanism.
So what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear.
I have been reading the most amazing new book by esteemed author Harriet Lerner (who wrote amidst others, best sellers The Dance of Anger, The Dance of Intimacy) entitled ,
Why Won’t You Apologize: Healing Big Betrayals and Every Day Hurts.
Can I just say the book was everything I hoped for and also way more?
As one might expect the book walks the reader through what is a true vs psuedo (i.e. in current pop cultue the “fake apology”), all the ways we humans frequently ruin an apology, relationship -busting apologies, etc and much, much more.
There were three important things that I learned in this book. The first of which I will share today: I needed to lovingly apologize to someone important to me.
On some level, I probably bought the book thinking it would validate my thinking: how that person owed me an apology and how they screwed up a conversation. Instead what happened was this: I realized how wrong and inconsiderate I had been, how I owed that person an apology and how I screwed our conversation up. Not one of the lessons of what I was expecting but that’s in part why I loved the book so much. It lovingly and respectfully changed my thinking. Talk about the proverbial “aha moment”, making it well worth the purchase.
So with the wise counsel of the book and with great care, I unequivocally apologized. No excuses. No “I am sorry that you feel that way” nonsense. No, “I am sorry ; it happened because I was doing/thinking/believing this nonsense. Just a heartfelt unequivocal apology. I have no idea how that will all shake out and I won’t pressure this person to forgive me but darn if it doesn’t feel like a big personal growth spurt at the age of 57.
Further it’s a great reminder that if we continue to work on our scars, bumps and lumps, we are never stuck.
Ps. This is not a sponsored post. Should you be interested, you can find the book on Amazon here https://www.amazon.com/Why-Wont-You-Apologize-Betrayals-ebook/dp/B01CO349DY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491302717&sr=8-1&keywords=why+can%27t+you+apologize:
Happy International Woman’s Day!
Today’s a day filled with protests, shopping boycotts and the like. I get it. These are strange times and in some ways things seem to be returning to dark ages. Sheesh, all I can think of is, how did we get here?
As I’m working hard not to be discouraged by the constant acrimony that is out there, today I’m celebrating International Woman’s Day in the following way:
- being mindful of the many wonderful women and grandchildren of all ages who have graced my life;
- being mindful of how lucky I am to have these amazing woman in my life; and
- telling these beautiful women how lucky I am to have them surround me in good times and in bad and making sure they know that I am always there for them;
- being mindful that, as the Sioux Indians remind us life is both giving and receiving.
The picture here (an oldie) is one of my amazing step-mom who even after my Dad’s death remains an incredibly important woman in my life. She has been there for me through thick and thin and do I ever feel blessed.
I wish you a heart-filled day celebrating all the wonderful women in your life.
Hello Dear Readers,
I hope this finds you well. It’s been a bit quiet on this front and here’s why.
Recently I was confronted with a very serious ethical matter necessitating that I take action. This action has cost me thousands of dollars in legal fees, loss of what I thought were authentic colleagues , etc.
What has struck me is people’s reactions and comments to the situation. Those reactions/comments have included everything from:
- Just ignore it
- What are you trying to get out of it
- Keep me out of it
- Not your/my problem
- Oh well
- I’m staying for the check
- Pretend it never happened
- Just sue , get paid a bunch of money, shut up about it and move on.
As those of you with a conscience might imagine, I’ve been rather shocked by the above reactions. Like you, I’m not wired that way.
Curious as to the above cowardice, I did a little digging and uncovered a rather disturbing phenomena called,
“THE BYSTANDER EFFECT”
The Bystander Effect is explained well here by Dr. Lenhert :
In social psychology there is a concept called the Bystander Effect, in which the likelihood of someone responding to a situation decreases as the number of people witnessing the situation increases.
This diffusion of responsibility that happens when more than one person witnesses the same injustice on the one hand is somewhat understandable (people seem to think someone else will deal with the problem, or if others are not reacting they shouldn’t either) but at the same time baffling and disturbing. It seems counterintuitive to think the more people are available to help another human being when they need it, the less likely that person is to actually be helped.
Rather disturbing right? But think about it. We see this bystander effect often in sexual harassment cases, college sexual assault investigations, politics and countless other situations.
How sad it is that others avoid personal responsibility and look to others to right a wrong. Where is the sense of personal and societal responsibility? How does one live with oneself? Is a title/paycheck really worth one’s integrity or reputation?
So inspired in large part by my lunch with Gretchen Carlson (formerly of Fox News), I’ve decided to do something brave, true and hard. It’s not popular and several others (with the exception of one) have chosen to turn the other way and predictably, shoot the messenger. I’m actually quite sad for them as I don’t believe this will end well for any of them.
But you know what? I am “putting my right shoes on” and pressing on. I’m not going to be bullied out of doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is more important than money to me. I’ve chosen not to stand by and let others be duped, careers and reputations be destroyed or worse. I will speak the truth. My silence can’t be bought. (Surprising coming out of a lawyer -eh?) Stay tuned.
As I watch the marches and the protests across our great nation, I am encouraged that others are getting “their right shoes on” and are no longer willing to be bystanders either.
Will you stand up for what is right and true in your profession and/or life or will you be a “bystander” too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You’re in a rut, stuck, feeling discouraged. Maybe even numb or fearful. We’ve all been there, right? I know I have. Last spring I had the worst writer’s block and couldn’t find my way out. It was awful!
When you’re in this place, what do you do?
Plain and simple-you’ve got to take your power back. Whatever’s haunting you, scaring you, keeping you stuck… you’ve got to face it head and grab your power. But exactly how do you do that?
FIVE STEPS TO TAKING YOUR POWER BACK
- Make A Decision: Sounds cheeky, right? Well, hang on and don’t skip this part. Remember that the situation remains in your life until you decide to make a difference. That’s the thing that most people miss. The real power is in the decision folks. Sure, what you decide is important in the long run but it’s the decision itself that gets you unstuck.
- Put your Support Team in Place: Yes, yes, yes, this sounds all touchy-feely but take me at my word and just do it. Whether you call it your “squad”, advisory board, circle of mentors, lawyers or your book club, make them aware of your decision and ask them to hold you accountable to that decision. Life inevitably throws us curves; our responsibility is to plan in advance for them and a support team helps us do them.
- Write your ideal scenario: Often times when we feel stuck in our job, circumstance, relationship, we can’t see the forest through the trees. When this happens to me, I feel like I’m in quick-sand and every step is a total slog. I’ve found the best way out of that gunk is to write my perfect scenario of the situation.
- Ask yourself the following:
How do I want it to look?
What are the baby steps I might need to take in the future to get there?
How do I want to feel in this scenario?
(For me, this last question is the most important.)
You will find that for the above to work authentically, you must give these questions rigorous thought and real work. Go deep and then write it down.
4. Find The Authentic Thought Leaders: Once you’ve written your ideal scenario, then it’s time to look outside of yourself. Who are the thought leaders on this issue? Who’s doing it differently, how are they doing it and why? Do they act out of integrity or are they a fraud? How can you work their ideas into your ideal scenario? Some of my thought leaders I turn to are:
Elon Musk: Innovator of all Innovators
Founder of Medtronic, Philanthropist, Authentic Leader: Bill George
Sarah Young: Author & Inspirational Writer
5. Harness The Power of LinkedIn: People ask me all the time, what’s the best online venue to network or get new ideas. Yes, I’m a Twitter junkie for news but LinkedIn is my go to. Despite its lousy customer service, LinkedIn’s power and reach never fail me. Take a class and learn how to really use it to your advantage.
As so many of us struggle with this, I’ll be writing more on this topic in the future.
So I ask you, what do you do to take your power back? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Let’s help each other, shall we?