The Art of Apologising
I'm really sorry for this.
First things first, this isn't going to be a post about the whole Joe Rogan debacle. In fact this post has been in the making way before that whole controversy but I just never got round to finishing it. But seeing as apologies are all the craze right now whether it be Joe Rogan apologising for using the N-word or Kurt Zouma for drop-kicking his cat, this post probably couldn't come at a more perfect time.
So I saw this Instagram post from Simple Politics:
And I thought, "Oh this will be interesting." And when I say "interesting" I guess what I really mean is... oh no I actually do mean "interesting" . A lot of people's opinions I actually shared and when it comes down to it, for me, what makes a good apology is committing to action that means you won't have to apologise for the same thing in the future and then actually moving forward and doing what you said you would. We all know talk is cheap and someone can apologise a thousand times but if they're not willing to change their behaviour then an apology means very little.
But anyway, that's not what this blog post is about. As one does I scrolled through some of the comments with a lot of people spouting the same drivel about wanting Boris to resign, a few pretty normal answers like "meaning it" and "changing your behaviour" (both which I of course agree with) BUT there was a lot of people saying that an apology is not an apology if you are not apologising for your behaviour but instead apologising for the way people feel. A lot of people may disagree, but to me, this ideology is COMPLETE NONSENSE and I will tell you why.
But before I go on my usual rant about something other people probably don't care as much about I was glad to see a comment which actually spoke about a scenario which mirrored my own thoughts.
She makes a VERY good point. We can all agree that the basis of a good apology is meaning it. We can also all agree that people have different tendencies and sensitives and actions that can aggravate one person may not aggravate another. So you get in to VERY tricky territory when maybe you have upset someone but you perceive that you have done nothing wrong. Do you still apologise... well how can you mean an apology when you don't think you've done anything wrong? And keeping in line with my own definition of a good apology you would have to commit to not doing that thing again and if you're are doing something that you don't believe is wrong it's hard to change that behaviour. So this is where the "I'm sorry you feel that way" apology comes in. And people will be quick to say "ThAt'S nOt A rEaL aPoLoGy" or liken it to gaslighting. Because on the surface basically what you're saying is I haven't done anything wrong and in fact it is you that is in the wrong for taking it the way you have.
I think this is for sure a very one dimensional view of the "I'm sorry you feel that way" apology. And going back to the Instagram comment, the question is how do you sincerely apologise for maybe upsetting someone but also acknowledging that we in fact didn't do anything "wrong"? Because it happens. And before any of you start I am not talking specifically about the government or trying to give them some sort of defence. I am talking about apologising in a much broader sense. To give an example, when we think about relationships sometimes we have to put ourselves first, do whats best for us and sometimes doing what's best for us can upset someone else but to give a sincere apology would be admitting that this action is wrong. But it is not... and this is where I believe it is completely okay to use the "I'm sorry you feel that way" apology. You can show sympathy for upsetting someone but you don't have to apologise for what you did. And anyone that demands, or seeks an apology from you is arguably gaslighting you. You should never apologise if you haven't done anything wrong however you should also look within yourself at your own behaviour and try to discover if there is something you need to genuinely apologise for. But when it comes to doing what's best for our own well being, even though it can upset others you should not be expected to apologise for it.
Not wanting to apologise for something that you don't believe is wrong or apologising for something that you feel didn't need an apology are both not ideal situations to find yourself in. And if we want to maintain this idea that we should mean our apologies then there should be no force out there that should compel you to apologise. That can only come from you. We see it all too often, celebrities being forced into a corner where they have no other option but to apologise but then they are further criticised for the way they apologise. Something I have worked on a lot in the past decade or so is being able to look at myself, admit when I am wrong and say sorry when I feel like I should. But the truth is we can all do or say anything that can upset someone out there and suddenly we have to apologise for saying the sky is blue or cats are better than dogs. For most of us we don't intend to upset people with our words, but it happens, and to constantly be apologising to a minority of people is just not realistic.
If I believe in my heart that I haven't done anything wrong then I have no problems hitting you with a "I'm sorry you feel that way" and me saying that doesn't undermine my apology. If I say that then I am genuinely sorry you feel that way but I can not apologise for doing or saying something that I myself don't perceive to be wrong. I COULD be wrong, and maybe one day I'll realise that but if I don't believe that at the time apologising for that action would be insincere. Don't get yourself in a position where you feel like you're constantly having to apologise to a friend or significant other. It does neither of you any good and can lead to a lot of toxicity that is only bound to get a lot worse. Or maybe you're just a terrible human being that in fact just does a lot of terrible things that you need to apologise for.
But anyway... what do you think? Am I way off the mark here? Maybe... but I really don't think so. If you want to carry on apologising for being yourself, telling the truth or things you did years ago then be my guest. But I personally believe, for the most part, you don't have to apologise for any of those things and people who demand apologies from you are more often than not trying to seek internal validation from external forces. Trust your instincts, if you genuinely believe you did wrong and need to apologise then do it. If you don't think you did any wrong but have upset someone then don't hesitate to hit them with a "sorry you feel that way" but if you do, just make sure you mean it. That's all good in my book and if you disagree, then I'm sorry you feel that way.