I stumbled this quote yesterday
‘Apologizing does not always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.’
At first glance it looks like a good attitude. But read it one more time and ask yourself if it doesn’t sound just a little self-righteous. I am sacrificing my need to be right (subtext: although of course I am right) because I am able to let go of my ego (subtext: I am better than you or more evolved than you!)
The problem is that apology and forgiveness require two non negotiable ingredients – honesty and humility.
If I am apologising – I may have thought I was acting in the most selfless way I could, but I screwed up. My intention and your experience are different. To truly acknowledge the truth of your experience I have to embrace the fact that I do not hold the whole truth. And if I don’t hold the whole truth, then ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is not a helpful binary classification.
I am presuming here that I am apologising for hurting you unintentionally. If the hurt was intentional then I have even less ground to stand on. But it is then that self-righteousness and self-justification rear their ugly heads.
It is for this reason, when I know my motives were a little mixed, that my only recourse is to pray for the grace of honesty and humility. That I may see the truth of my actions and my intent.
It is only when I have bathed myself in honesty and humility that I am in any state to apologise. To recognise that, in all honesty, I am no better than the person I have affronted. It is only when I have faced into the ugly truth of my own painful limitations that I can consider offering an apology.
Until then, I am playing self-righteous mind games which serve precisely no-one.
To apologise is to humble oneself – if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t really apologising at all.