How a Simple Apology Is Not Enough
When we are angry, we sometimes say things that we do not really mean. I mean, think to yourself about how many times in just the last week or few weeks how you might have been brash or quick to say something purely in retaliation for someone hurting your feelings. It’s understandable, we all do it. Even the most reserved and cautious of us have found ourselves lashing out angrily for a perceived injustice whether it was intentional or not.
If you can’t think of one, then chances are you do it way more than you realize. Now, I’m not saying there are not times where a sharp rebuttal may be warranted but often we are quick to react without thinking on whether or not the person who just hurt our pride really intended to do so. It’s quite possible that the person simply did not realize that their words may have upset us or even that they had said something offensive in the first place.
I’m sure everyone can think of plenty of instances where they were the recipient of harsh words in return for a sentiment we did not think was even the slightest bit offensive or ill-intended. Doesn’t feel good, right? Now then, if there was a way we could go back we would probably take those words back right?
A stone once it’s been tossed can not be taken back much the same as a careless or hurtful word can not be unspoken. We’ve all heard the anecdote of the broken plate. If we were to throw a plate on the ground and smash it, no matter how many times we apologize to the plate, it will never be fixed. It is only after countless efforts to reglue it back together would it resemble anything of its former self.
Our friendships and relationships are much the same. Once we have hurt someone’s feelings, the damage has been done. And no amount of apology will mend that. The only way to fix the now severed bond is through hard work and an honest effort to resolve the dispute and offending actions.
We may wish for everything to instantly be all better. But, the hard truth is it won’t be. It won’t be until there is a concession that is made. An apology is only the first step in mending a broken bond in a relationship. In other words, the apology is just the invitation to accept an effort in resolving the issue.
Unfortunately, we can’t go back and change the past. But we can make a more conscious effort moving forward to alleviate the knee-jerk reactions we’re conditioned to these days. By being mindful of our actions and words we gain better control over those reactions. And by exercising good personal emotional maintenance, we understand ourselves better. In doing so, we become more in control of our emotions and our reactions when we feel we’ve been wronged somehow.
So what is the key to unlocking a better control of our emotional response? The answer lies in practicing self-control and good emotional IQ or emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the art of understanding our emotions, what triggers our emotional response, and choosing the correct or appropriate response in which to exhibit based on the circumstances.
So, how do we learn how to practice good emotional intelligence, and can we improve upon our current level of emotional IQ? The answer is yes, and through mindful practice in the art of knowing oneself.
We can improve our emotional IQ by being aware of our reactions and triggers to certain responses. For example, if we find that someone commenting on our appearance triggers a negative response from us more oft than not, perhaps the answer lay in our insecurities. Is there something about ourselves that we are uncomfortable with? Maybe we have been wanting to change something but have not tried hard enough or have not gotten the results we wanted.
If weight is an issue, as it is with a lot of us, maybe we’ve been slacking on our gym routine and we feel guilty for it. The mere mention of weight, whether directed towards us or not may make us lash out. Perhaps it’s something of our personality that bugs us and so someone criticizing our inherent character flaw upsets us and we spring into the defense of that thing we don’t mean to do.
A lot of times, it is simply our pride or ego that disallows us to take criticism. Maybe, we find that even constructive criticism can be too harsh for our fragile self-image. The answer here is found in practicing self-love. We have got to be honest with ourselves when forming our self-image.
If the way we see ourselves is not the way we really are, there is bound to be some disturbance afoot when someone questions something about us. It may not even be an offensive comment, but our perception that needs an adjustment. However, once the damage is done it’s done.
So how do we learn to control our emotional responses? How can we change the patterns of behavioral mannerisms we’ve trained ourselves to act? Again, Mindful observance of ourselves and our thoughts.
When we get angry, often times we do not even realize that we are. We simply react. We are after all only human. But if we were to train ourselves to take a moment to mentally observe ourselves and be mindful of our emotions and thoughts, we can begin to ease off the throttle and maybe err on the side of caution.
By slowing ourselves down, and giving ourselves time to carefully examine our feelings we can find a better and more proactive way to approach any situation. It will feel awkward at first, but in time and with practice it will become as second nature as the current reactionary version of ourselves are acting.
Here are a few questions to help identify our emotions and whether or not our current instinctual response is accurate.
- What am I feeling right now?
- Why am I feeling this way?
- Was it what they said? How was it said? Or my interpretation of what was said?
- Is there truth to what they said?
- Is there another course to resolve this issue?
By practicing mindful observation of our feelings we can get a better understanding of why we react the way we do to certain stimuli. We then can alter the course of action we take and the words we choose. Hopefully, by doing so we can have better communication with our loved ones and avoid the pitfalls of anger and knee-jerk reactions that strain our relationships and complicate seemingly simple disputes.
Meditation helps. But the key to good Emotional IQ is in understanding ourselves and why we react to things the way we do. Once we’ve found a troublesome behavior, it is up to us to retrain ourselves to react differently.