Look what you made me do (DW# 780)

One of the worst kinds of non-apology is blaming the other person when they are the hurt party.
You made me do that
You made me angry
It is your fault that I did what I did
I had no choice but to do what I did because of what you did
It was your behaviour that caused me to act as I did
These are ways of blaming the offended party for the behaviour of the offender. Can you think of a more offensive way to behave? This is the language of abusers when they use power, control and manipulation against the victim to deflect attention from their actions. It is called blaming the victim and it is a VERY oppressive way to behave.
If we are on the receiving end of such talk, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot be held responsible for someone else’s actions.
And as parents, we need to be very careful that we do not say any version of the following:
I did not want to hit you – you made me do it
You are making me scream
You are giving me a...
Continue Reading...

Can you overdo an apology? (DW# 779)

Can you overdo an apology?
Absolutely! It is one thing to express remorse for what we have done, and it is quite another to share the depths of shame and remorse we might be feeling with another person to the extent that they feel the need to take care of our emotional distress.
Apologies like this show up in sentences like:

I am sorry I am a horrible person
I can never get over what I did to you
I feel absolutely terrible
Apologies like this seem genuine on the surface and they might be. The problem is that the focus is not on the distress of the offended person but rather on the feelings of the offender.
We need to be careful about making the offended person feel bad about how bad we are feeling. Processing our feelings of guilt and remorse is ours to process and does not belong in the apology process.
So, if we are feeling awful about what we have done, let us practice sitting in that distress after we have expressed remorse rather than putting the...
Continue Reading...

A beautiful prayer (DW# 778)

When we begin making lists of people we owe apologies to, it may cause a lot of distress, especially if the people involved are no longer around or in touch with us (I think of all the teachers at school that I gave a hard time to, Nannies that I may have been sassy with . . . ).

What do we do then? What if we cannot get in touch with them?
One way is to earnestly pray for them.
It is a good general habit to specifically include two groups of people to remember in our prayers:
1) Those who have done us favours, taught us, served us, shown us kindness or made our life better in any way
Those whom we may have bothered, hurt or harassed (remembering of course that if you know a specific situation and the person is around, it is better to ask forgiveness in person) that we may have forgotten about or are not in touch with.

There is a beautiful section in the supplication Dua Tauba in the Sahifa Sajjadiya which says:

O Allah, counted against me are claims (from...
Continue Reading...

Another alternative to the generic apology (DW# 777)

Continuing our discussion on alternatives to the generic apology.
We generally want to apologize to people we may have unknowingly hurt to clear our own conscience and to improve our standing before the Lord.
If we are at place in our lives when we want to make amends and seek forgiveness for our actions in the past, it is a good idea to start compiling a list of people that we may owe apologies to. Of course, we do not know if they remember us, or hold things against us but this is a good place to start.
Secondly, when we reach out to someone to offer an apology, we need to make sure that it is to a specific person and not a mass message.
Thirdly, we can check in to see if and why they are upset and offer to make an apology.
This may be far more meaningful and healing than a generic apology although it does take a lot more effort and courage to do.
Here is an example:
Dear [Name]

I am going for – and you will be on my...
Continue Reading...

Alternatives to the generic apology(DW# 776 )

Last week we spoke about ineffective apologies and in DW#774 I spoke about the problems with a generic apology which reads like this:

I am sorry if I have ever done anything, intentionally or unintentionally to hurt you. Please forgive me.

I had already been pondering about what we should do if we think we have offended someone that we are not in contact with every day. And some of you have asked this question over the weekend as well:

Agree these apologies are not very meaningful.  Not sure what would be the alternative. Should we just not do it at all?

[Have I mentioned how much I appreciate people writing in with questions, comments or challenges about DW content? Really helps me reflect on how things are landing.]

Great question! Since this kind of an apology seems to be somewhat unique in our cultures, it was challenging to explore how others see or think about this issue. [The closest situation would be a company apologizing for "any inconvenience caused" due to a...

Continue Reading...

Let’s move on already(DW# 775 )

Just because we have decided that now is the time to take responsibility and apologize, it does not mean that we are entitled to forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a journey that the hurt person needs to take on their own terms and in their own time. While receiving an apology is likely to expedite the process and allow them to begin to heal and let go, it may not happen instantly.
Depending on the nature of the offence and the hurt caused, a simple apology, even if it is sincere, may not be enough. Or even if it is enough, the person may still need time to process the hurt and to heal.
So forcing the other to forgive by saying something like: "I said I’m sorry already, why can’t you just let it go?", will likely undo the apology as the offended person begins to sense that you do not still get the extent of hurt or damage you may have caused.
For an apology to be effective, it must be clear that:
1) You accept responsibility for your actions, omissions...
Continue Reading...

The generic apology(DW# 774 )

In the subcontinent and east African cultures, there is a kind of apology which is somewhat unique: we get an email or a text message before someone is going on a spiritually significant journey. And they want to do this with a clean slate. And so they send a mass message blast to all their contacts which goes something like this:
I am sorry if I have ever done anything, intentionally or unintentionally to hurt you. Please forgive me.
This is a generic apology: basically another form of non-apology that does not apologize directly to the injured or insulted party, but rather generically "to anyone who might have been offended"
If you are on the receiving end of such a message, the following thoughts might cross your mind:

Yes, you have offended me. I am hurt and this is not good enough. You need to please take responsibility for the specific action and apologize for it.
Nope you have not. Why are you apologizing?
Well, have you? Have you done something to me...
Continue Reading...

I am sorry but . . .(DW# 773)

BUT may be the ultimate apology annihilator.
Please remember this: Whatever you say after BUT will negate anything you say before it. The word but in an apology almost always signals an excuse or cancels out the original message.
Here are some ways but can show up:
I am sorry, but you are no angel
I am sorry but you are also to blame
I am sorry but it was not my fault
I am sorry but you provoked me
I am sorry I was rude but someone had to point it out
It doesn’t even matter if what you say after "but" happens to be true. The word "but" does not belong in an apology. It is as simple as that.

If used to say sorry, but conveys that:
"Given the whole situation, my rudeness (or lateness, or sarcastic tone, or what-have-you) is pretty understandable."
It is saying in essence:
"I am saying sorry, because you want me to, but really, I have nothing to apologize for".
Let us remind ourselves that an apology is about acknowledging the wrongfulness...
Continue Reading...

It’s not me, it’s you(DW# 772 )

Saying the word YOU after I am sorry will most likely invalidate your apology.
I’m sorry you feel that way
I’m sorry you think that way
I’m sorry you misinterpreted things
I’m sorry you are so sensitive
Even though these phrases begin with the words I am sorry, they are not really apologies at all. These phrases take no ownership of any wrongdoing. They do not communicate remorse for our actions nor express any empathy towards the other person’s feelings.

When we say I am sorry YOU, we are suggesting that the hurt party was wrong to feel upset or hurt. That they are being irrational or over sensitive.
This is not really an apology for our actions, is it?

A pretend apology like the above will result in increased anger as the offended person recognizes that they are being blamed instead of being apologized to.
There is, however, one way we can insert YOU in an apology and make it meaningful and here it is:
I am...
Continue Reading...

The beginners guide to bad apologies(DW# 771 )

For the last little while, we have been discovering why it can be so hard to apologize to someone we have hurt, especially when the hurt runs deep.


Let us spend the next few days looking at failed attempts at apologizing. The choice of words (or where they are put) may undermine, derail, or otherwise muddle sincerity, and the recipient may be left more offended than they were in the first place.  


Imagine we are offended by someone. And they refuse to apologize. The failure of the other person to apologize when they should, can hit harder than the deed they should apologize for.

And if sorry is said, but it is said without expressing any responsibility for wrongdoing, if it is insincere, does not express remorse or if it is clothed in ifs and buts, it can also leave the offended person feeling worse than they did before the apology.


So let us explore the beginners guide to bad apologies so that we can recognize them if they are offered to us and so...
Continue Reading...

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.