I was listening to a podcast the other day that had three people discussing the concept of forgiveness in a slightly atypical way. This is a podcast that I generally really appreciate and enjoy, and this particular episode got me thinking and disagreeing with them on some level.
I appreciate that people are really trying to deconstruct all the ways we look at things as a society, but I sometimes wonder if we deconstruct so much that we end up losing some of the simple beauties of life that maybe aren't as complicated as we make them.
This episode kind of felt like that to me.
The hosts were basically saying that when we ask someone to forgive us for mistakes we have made (particularly in situations in our past that caused some level of trauma), we are essentially doing so for ourselves and our own egos. They mentioned how oftentimes when we go back and apologize to someone we have wronged, we are digging up old wounds that could re-hurt the person we originally hurt and that by doing so, we are only doing it to "unburden ourselves" or change the narrative to make ourselves look better.
Honestly, I get it. I get what they were saying and I'd have to agree on some level. It's true that when we ask someone to forgive us, we are seeking to feel lighter ourselves for any number of reasons.
But is that really such a bad thing? Are we so conditioned to believe that our own unburdening doesn't matter? And is it such a bad thing to want to be a better person and to even do so in a public way?
Just recently, as I was working with my therapist, we were discussing a situation that happened years ago where I had asked a friend a personal question that was really not respectful for me to ask. It wasn't my intention to cause harm, but in retrospect, and after having learned some new information about this friend, I realized that my question had been hurtful. I was truly feeling sorrowful about it and wanted to reach out. Yes, I'm pretty sure there was some part of my ego that wanted to rewrite the narrative, but I can honestly say that I was also feeling genuinely sorry about it. It was probably kind of both. So should I have just kept it all in because there may have been some level of ego involved or old wounds that might resurface?
This was a situation that was really bothering me personally because of some things that were going on in my own life. It felt very heavy for me to continue to carry it around, so my therapist and I agreed that it would be a good idea to reach out and apologize.
Obviously there is no one right answer here and there are many ways we can seek to unburden ourselves. There are many times I have made the decision to not make a personal apology when the possible negatives seem to outweigh the possible positives, but I can say that for myself in this situation, I am so glad that I reached out. Yes, it could have been mostly for me, but is that so bad?
I have found it to be a life-giving gift when I allow myself to apologize to someone even if it is just for ME. I have spent way too much of my life trying to make everyone else feel as comfortable as possible, while disregarding my own needs. This doesn't mean that I completely discount the feelings of others when I decide how to proceed, but it does mean that how I feel about a situation matters too. They both matter. They both have to be considered.
I am human. I am imperfect. I am not going to get everything right.
But so are they.
They are human. They are imperfect. They are not going to get everything right.
If apologizing brings me more peace, then I think I am worth it.
And maybe it's not such a bad thing for humans to see other humans trying to make things better on some level. Maybe it's not even a bad thing for humans to see other humans trying to unburden themselves.
I'm pretty sure our world could do with a whole lot more apologizing, not less.
I would hope that we could give each other an extra dose of grace and space to be human - especially when what we are trying to do is say we are sorry.
If that's the worst thing our egos do, then I'd say we are doing pretty ok. :)
Lots of love,