Is it enough to ask forgiveness from God?(DW# 770 )

As we have been discussing, it is hard to acknowledge that we messed up, were wrong and have hurt someone.
Sometimes, even after we secretly recognize that what we did was not acceptable, we find it hard to acknowledge this in front of the person we have hurt. We may try to convince ourselves that it will be enough if we repent in front of God and ask for forgiveness.
After all, it is so much easier asking forgiveness from God, isn’t it? We do not have to confront any of the uncomfortable feelings that will surely surface if we are dealing with another (imperfect) human being who may or may not respond with graciousness and forgiveness.

But here is the thing: if we have wronged or hurt another human being, God will forgive only once we try to make amends with that person. And while our salvation may not depend on whether the other person forgives us, it will surely be impacted by the fact that we tried to make amends with them?

According to Islamic...
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Self esteem and responsibility(DW# 769)

Harriet Lerner inWhy Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts explains how low self-worth stands in the way of taking responsibility and apologizing.
Refusing to apologize often reflects efforts to protect a fragile sense of self, she says. According to Lerner, refusing to apologize is fundamentally a sign of insecurity.

"In order to offer a heartfelt apology, a person needs to have a solid platform of self-worth to stand on," she says. "From this higher vantage point, the person can look out at their bad behavior, and they can apologize because they’re able to see their mistakes as part of a much larger, complex, ever-changing picture of who they are as a human being."

Or, as she poignantly puts it, "A non-apologizer walks on a tightrope of defensiveness above a huge canyon of low self-esteem."
Powerful words, right?

When we recognize defensiveness in ourselves, it may help to remember that a powerful way to increase self-esteem and...
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Fear of humiliation, weakness and loss of control(DW# 768 )

Depending on how making mistakes, making amends and apologies were handled in our families when we were growing up, we adopt all sorts of beliefs around apologies and some of them may be rather unhealthy.

Part of maturing and growing as human beings involves taking stock of our dysfunctional beliefs, thought patterns and actions, evaluating their impact and choosing our own path forward.

So let us see if we may be unconsciously harbouring some of these beliefs which stand in the way of taking responsibility for our actions.

If we have a history of being harshly criticized by parents or other important people while growing up, we may find the idea of apologizing humiliating and as a coping mechanism, we may avoid admitting mistakes because of the horrible feelings and memories that apologizing brings up.

Sometimes, these memories are so traumatic that we end up insisting that we have done nothing wrong (or refuse to admit we have done something despite evidence to the contrary).
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Fear of vulnerability to emotion(DW# 767)

Apologizing to someone can make us feel emotionally vulnerable, raw and exposed. By apologizing, we open ourselves to bearing witness to someone else’s pain and confronting the possibility that we may be the cause of that distress.
Here is how Guy Winch Ph.D. explains the psychology of non-apologizers in Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts:
By refusing to apologize, non-apologists are trying to manage their emotions. They are often comfortable with anger, irritability, and emotional distance, and experience emotional closeness and vulnerability to be extremely threatening. They fear that lowering their guard even slightly will make their psychological defenses crumble and open the floodgates to a well of sadness and despair that will pour out of them, leaving them powerless to stop it.

He goes on to explain that it is true that allowing yourself to witness someone’s pain and to apologize makes us...

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The fear of the unknown(DW# 766)

Let’s continue with our exploration of the challenges and barriers to accepting responsibility for our actions.

The truth is that when we apologize for what we did wrong, we do not know how it will be received.

And this fear of the unknown may keep us from accepting fault and making amends.

We may fear that our attempts at repair will be rejected.

The prospect of getting a cold shoulder, of not being forgiven or losing a relationship can understandably be unsettling, especially when it comes from someone we still love, care about and want to maintain a relationship with.

We may also be concerned that apologizing will open the floodgates to further accusations and conflict.

The logic behind this kind of thinking is that once we admit to one or more actions of wrongdoing, surely the other person will pounce on the opportunity to pile on all the previous offences which hurt them and are not yet forgiven. We fear that once we admit to doing anything wrong, it will forever be...

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The difference between guilt and shame(DW# 765)

When we are talking about the conscience and how it guides us towards wise action through remorse, it is helpful to distinguish between guilt and shame.

When we do something wrong, we feel guilty. It is normal and healthy to feel guilt and remorse when we do things that hurt other people or ourselves. This guilt is our internal moral compass that alerts us when we move away from our values and from our sense of right and wrong.

Healthy guilt allows us to see that we can change our behaviours and make amends. And it gives us the motivation to do so. And when we act in accordance with our guilt to make amends, we feel much better about ourselves.

Shame, on the other hand, is different.

While guilt makes us feel bad about our actions, shame makes us feel about ourselves—about who we are. Unlike guilt, shame may not go away when we take actions to repair the hurt that we have caused. And the fear of feeling shame makes us very reluctant to own up to our mistakes and...

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Self protection(DW# 764)

Continuing with our exploration on why it is so challenging to apologize when we have hurt someone, today let’s talk about self protection.
As human beings, we are designed to protect ourselves and this includes protecting our sense of self, our ego from feeling badly. We are hard wired to defend ourselves from outside threats, as well as from thoughts and beliefs that lead to a threat to our sense of ourselves as good people.

This is why we do not like to admit that we are wrong. When we admit that we are wrong or have made a mistake, our conscience makes us feel remorse which is an uncomfortable feeling.

Of course, we need to remember that our conscience has been designed for precisely this purpose: to make us feel remorse when we fail to live up to our highest values. It is our moral compass. It is what helps us realign ourselves and our actions to our enlightened self-interest and live as humans in the full sense of the word. It is also what ensures that...
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Talking about magnitude(DW# 763 )

relationships wellbeing May 27, 2020
It goes without saying that not offences are the same. And apologies for smaller offences can be much easier to offer than for the big ones.  

What do I mean by that?

Harriet Lerner in her great book on the subject: Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts explains the difference between small medium and big hurts.

Small everyday happenings that are not necessarily in our control or our fault.

There are things that happen everyday in our lives which cause inconvenience to our loved ones and they involve us in some way.

For example, I get held up in a traffic jam on the way home from work causing the family to wait for dinner
Saying sorry in such a situation is not really asking for forgiveness since these happenings are not anyone’s fault. Rather, it is simply an empathic response to another person’s pain. We are saying, in essence, I am sorry you have to go through this ordeal.
Saying sorry in...
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Why is it so hard to apologize?(DW# 762)

relationships wellbeing May 26, 2020
Yesterday, we talked about why it is important to learn how to apologize effectively.
However, it can be very challenging to do this.
This is how author Sharon Begley explains it:

Apologies are the Brussels sprouts of relationships. Research says they’re good for us, and, like a dinner of the green stuff after a lunch of burger and fries, they can erase or at least mitigate the ill effects of a transgression. But there’s something about both apologies and tiny bitter brassicas that makes us often choose something else on the menu, thank you very much.

In the next few days, let us explore some of the reasons why it is so hard to apologize.
Firstly, there is often a "magnitude gap" between how each side perceives an offense. When we hurt someone, it is very tempting to underplay our offence and chalk it down to their "sensitivity" rather than to take responsibility for our actions.
For the one on the receiving end of the transgression,...
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Why must we apologize?(DW# 761)

relationships wellbeing May 25, 2020
Today inshallah we start a series on apologizing.

Why is this important?

As human beings, we make mistakes all the time.

All. The. Time.

Despite our best intentions, we often end up saying or doing things that hurt other people, often people we love most. In fact, it is our closest relationships that are the most impacted by our shortcomings and slips.

And when our loved ones are hurt by us, it impacts our own wellbeing whether we recognize it or not.

It is now well documented that our happiness and wellbeing is best predicted by the breadth and depth of our social connections, that is, our relationships with spouses, friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues. Strong relationships are good for us on many different levels and so it is important that we repair relationships that are struggling or impacted by small hurt and big betrayals.

Not apologizing also impacts our relationship with ourselves, our self-esteem and our spirituality (we will explore this in the...

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