Number 15 in a Series
What have been your experiences with apologies such as, “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me”?
Typically, when things cool down after an argument, returning to “normal” can be pleasant. In fact, reconnecting heart to heart with an adult partner may even lead to the wondrous experience of make-up sex. But, failing to learn from disconnected interactions often leaves wounds and scars that if not healed inevitably build toward future problems.
There is probably nothing harder for me to acknowledge than the fact that my heart-disconnected behaviors are disrespectful and inflict pain. Disrespectful behavior carries with it inescapable, though often unrecognized, negative consequences.
For most of my life, I lived blissfully ignorant of the devastating effects that inevitably followed my heartless feelings of anger, irritation, judgments or emotional withdrawal. Oh sure, some of those relationships survived but the price was the cancer of eroding trust that produced a growing emotional distance.
For example, criticizing or getting angry may seen innocuous but it is stored in the other person’s psyche, albeit often unconsciously, and often results in shutting down emotionally and sexually, as well as revengeful behavior.
The sadness that I feel for inflicting heartless disrespectful behavior is something I will carry around forever. Knowing that my behavior came from the beliefs and fears that predominated over my loving authentic self, helps keep away the guilt and self-judgment, but does not change the existential reality of the consequences of that behavior.
If I haven’t lost you in my sadness, the bright side of this blog is that messes can be cleaned up. The first step in healing wounds is to take responsibility for disrespectful behavior and apologize to the injured party. This is the first step but it must not be the last.
Apologies by themselves are meaningless. Heaven knows I made a lot of apologies without anything really changing. Cleaning up messes and rebuilding trust requires apologies and actions.
Actions are the behaviors that follow from a dedicated commitment to resolve the underlying fears and beliefs that are responsible for my heartless, disrespectful behavior. For me, such actions have included learning more about those fears and beliefs and seeking help from friends and professionals.
An openness to learning is typically thought of merely as wanting to learn about the other person. Such an interaction provides important information and allows the other person to feel heard and understood. But if that’s all I learn, I miss what’s crucial for furthering my journey to live in my heart more of the time – learning about my part of the difficulty.
The following are the kinds of questions that open the gates for learning about the basic issues that get in the way of living more heart-connected:
- If my heart had been open, what would I have felt and how would I have responded?
- What are the positive results to my relationship with others and myself of keeping my heart open?
- What are the fears, beliefs and expectations that get in the way of responding from my heart?
- What are the fears and beliefs that cause me to get defensive and take things personally?
- Why am I so afraid of losing face or another person’s love?
- How do I quiet my inner critic and learn to respond more from my nurturing authentic self?
- How do I best clean up the messes that are created when I have been heartless, i.e. out of integrity with my authentic self?
Being open to learning about myself becomes blocked when I fear that my thoughts or actions will be judged by my inner critic as bad or wrong. Such thoughts touch off deep fears of being unlovable and unworthy, losing another person’s love, and ending up alone and miserable. Although these self-doubts and fears are deeply ingrained, they are not inborn.
I didn’t come into this world believing that I was unlovable and inadequate. Such thoughts form the well of false beliefs that I adopted in childhood. Although these self-doubts have not changed easily or quickly, they are evolving into the heart-connected beliefs that I am always doing the best that I can and I am in my core, lovable. (More about heart-connected and heart-disconnected beliefs will be in a subsequent post),
The bad news for all of us is the self-limiting weights that darken our existence. The good news is that the false beliefs about our unlovability and inadequacy can be shed, and that’s how we move towards becoming more enlightened and establishing meaningful and satisfying relationships with others.
For Your Journey
- Think about an upsetting situation that has ended unsatisfactorily and using the above list of questions, learn about what might have occurred.
- What has your experience been with apologies both your own and others?
- What new expectations do you have regarding apologies?
- Share-it-forward. Share with another person about apologies, the importance of cleaning up messes that are created when heartless, disrespectful interactions have occurred, and the many things that can be learned from upsetting situations.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo:Flickr / Shehal Joseph