I haven’t fully understood the concept of “to apologize” yet. There is a conflict for me between wanting to apologize and then, when the other person says “I accept your apology” or “I forgive you,” I feel like “Now it looks as if I did it on purpose and I didn’t!!” And I become angry and defensive. What am I missing here?
Yes, and on purpose or not, “you” did it; it happened through your body (mouth, hands, etc.) and what you claim to be “yourself.” Isn’t that why you apologized? The next time you apologize and didn’t do the act on purpose, I suggest that you say, “I didn’t do _______ on purpose, and I’m so sorry that it happened.” Or “I didn’t do _______ on purpose” (if you aren’t sorry).
An apology happens within me first; it is clear when the slightest internal circuit is broken, planned or unplanned, within one’s own self. I may notice the off-ness (the circuit breaker) when I said something, and then an “oops” kind of sweetness happens (instant awareness of the past as here and now, even just a nanosecond away), and out of that, a sense of awakeness and delight at noticing, I apologize with or without a bystander. If the apparent other isn’t there to be offended, I apologize to the self (it doesn’t mind at all, and we laugh at the “self” self-talk). There is never a moment within this intimate dance that the one who steps on its own foot wouldn’t apologize. Nothing personal, and yet so unbreakably intimate.
And even though someone may not be offended by my words, actions, etc., it seems right that I easily claim, “I said _______, and I’m sincerely sorry if I have offended you. I apologize. I am sorry for any suffering I may have caused.” Intentional or not, I am only about the end of suffering. I am about peace, and I’m sorry if anything that is understood through “my” words should fall short and seem to point away from that.
Dearest, the ego has great difficulty with identity (false self) exposed, and the truly humble, completely exposed and naked doesn’t have any problem, as it understands what it really is and is not.
Why is my reaction defense and not freedom and peace?
Are you really sorry, or are you just imagining what you consider to be escape? And yes, I wouldn’t apologize until I really understood any suffering I may have caused and was in touch with how to make it right if that is involved in the harm as well. I wouldn’t apologize until I was completely willing to have the other person shout my “wrong” to the rooftops and include it in his or her next Facebook entry. That’s how I know that I would rather be free than right. The moment this kind of freedom is experienced is the beginning of the old identity shifting, falling away, seeing and experiencing itself as truly false in the dearest of ways.
I better not apologize to others until I am “ready”? But what is “ready”?
I hope something in my response has helped you in some way. And good that you don’t apologize to others before you are ready, since that is no apology from you at all. What is ready? When you understand that for you and you only, it is the right thing to do, and it is for you, not to you. An apology has nothing to do with the person I am apologizing to. Nothing at all. They will do with it what they do with it. Mine is done: a clean slate. I am ready.
This may help: Statement numbers 2, 3, and 4 on the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, when turned around, show me what to apologize for. Question 3, “How do I react when I believe that thought,” shows me what to apologize for and to whom. All so simple to the mind that wants to expand and leave the world of suffering from within and fly.
When do I know that I’m “there” and that an apology is the right thing to do now?
When you’re ready to live without guilt and stress and regret. Be gentle, take your time, be thorough and know that starting over is what time is for.
Do you have any suggestions here that help me understand myself and the concept of apologizing better?
I leave it for you be the judge of that, dearest one.
In deep gratitude and love,