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.