“Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Elton John.
When we get in an argument and act badly, how do we respond?
Sometimes, the temptation is to stand our ground and keep fighting, keep defending our position (no matter how ridiculous our position may be).
We seem to be hard-wired to keep the fight going.
We latch onto what the other person did.
We think of how they hurt us and give little mind to the pain that we caused.
It is so very tempting to focus on what they did or did not do to cause the conflict.
This approach diminishes our own culpability for the conflict and allows us to play the role of the victim.
Ah, the victim. Such a comfortable place to be.
Some people spend most of their lives playing the role of the victim.
When we get in a fight, it is just plain easier to act as if we were blameless for the conflict.
As if this fight materialized out of nowhere with no involvement on our part.
Is there another way? I believe so.
In the tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a simple concept about how to make an amends.
Note – simple, not necessarily easy.
AA teaches that when we apologize, we focus solely on our role in the dispute.
We don’t point fingers, we don’t repeat all of the ways that the other person hurt our feelings and we don’t blame them for the conflict.
We instead own up to our role in the fight.
We apologize for what we did. And then we say no more.
The analogy from AA is that we clean up our side of the street. When I think of this suggestion, I actually picture myself gently sweeping the sidewalk and looking across the street at the person that I fought with.
Turning over and letting go of the things that we did to cause or perpetuate the fight allow us to move on. It is a gift to ourselves as much as it is to the other person.
We let go of the result and we allow the other person to stay mad at us, if that is what it takes to make the peace.
Our apology may have to be given several times.
But if we avoid pointing out how we were harmed, the heat of the argument fades and forgiveness is allowed to take root.
These, of course, are just suggestions. I struggle with these things all of the time.