Non-Violence

Keep Your Apology

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“Fuck you, motherfucker!”

I hurled that directive across the room to the silver haired burn out in my Conflict Resolution class last week – it was our first attempt at non-violent communication.

Well… shit.

Given the slightly passive-aggressive “It’s OK To Be Angry” news article our instructor emailed and the ‘therapeutic’ (read: punitive) journal entry she required of me, my educated guess is that she wasn’t as pleased with the outcome of that dialogue as I was.

So I began the journal entry bitching about how I’d been wronged, how justified I was in my righteous anger and after a half page, snapped my notebook shut with a smug, sanctimonious smile. You know the one. It practically screams, “take that, shithead.”

But…

I kept coming back to the argument. What was it that caused me to snap like that? What made me go from zero to holy-crap-she’s pissed! in a moment so fast I couldn’t feel myself getting angry? I cracked open my journal again, and began writing. Here’s what I came up with.

He didn’t listen to me. Instead, he cut across me and asserted offensive accusations meant to invalidate the way I felt because those feelings threatened him.

So how do we remedy this?

I only had one answer: Don’t apologize. 

Wait, what? Don’t apologize. That made me take pause. What do I mean?  Stick with me, here, and I’ll play it all out.

On both sides of the coin apologies are self-serving bullshit, nothing more than a subconscious power struggle between two people who believe themselves to be right. More often than not the person that’s apologizing isn’t really sorry, it’s that they don’t like confrontation.

But answer me this:  Are the words “I’m sorry” a cure-all for hurt feelings? Do they erase the incident?

No, of course not. They’re just words. So what’s really going on that’s making you feel better? I’ll tell you what.

That apology just proved your were RIGHT ALL ALONG. This was all about ego.

Yep. Now that you’ve been proven right, you can be the magnanimously forgiving party and go back to the way things used to be.

Is that what I want?

No.

I don’t want your apology. I don’t care about your apology. Hell, I don’t care whether or not you’re sorry.

FORGIVENESS GOES WITHOUT SAYING.

Let me repeat that.

FORGIVENESS GOES WITHOUT SAYING.

So, take your apology and roll it up reaaaalll right…. well you know where I’m going with this.  Save it. Keep your apology for someone who needs that ego stroke.

Me? I want you to hear me. HEAR ME. I’m not saying you have to agree with me. I’m saying you have to understand where I’m coming from.

Why?

So you’re aware of how you affect others.

Why?

So maybe, you will change it.

Why? (I’m channeling a 3 year old)

Because of a simple equation:

Help one person understand and they will help another understand, and so the domino effect starts.

These are the active, constructive steps that it takes to make a better world – one person at a time. 

Chew on that for a bit.

~ Peace ~

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