I don't do well knowing that I hurt someone. I'm used to being the person who's hurt by others. So on the occasion when I learn I've hurt someone, not only do I apologize a lot, but I make a grand effort in apologizing to try to convey how sorry I truly am.
I haven't been told this in retrospect by those I've hurt, so I don't know how they've actually taken my way of apologizing, but others who know those that apologize like me, say we are manipulators and gaslighters. It looks like we're over apologizing and acting emotionally in order to coerce quick forgiveness from the person or people we hurt.
Then I heard a second negative view of how we apologize. If we dwell on a mistake and apologize over and over for it, it holds the trauma of the mistake with the other person and makes it more about our feelings instead of just apologizing and moving on.
Now, obviously, no one wants to think of themselves as a manipulator, gaslighter, and insincere. However, I wonder are other people's perceptions of how and why you apologize true, or is how you feel about how and why you apologized the truth? Isn't the receiver of an apology supposed to be the only and true judge of what they feel about how and why someone apologizes to them?
As much as it hurts me to say this, if the one I apologize to feels I'm a manipulator and gaslighter and insincere, that's their right. I have to accept that that's what I am. There's an interesting thread I came across on Twitter that talks about how no one HAS to forgive you.
There's this societal push to just forgive those that hurt you so that you're not carrying bitterness in your heart. But no one should be forced to forgive someone who hurt or harmed them just because it will presumably make them a bigger and better and more woke person. No one is owed forgiveness when they do something wrong, even if they feel they are. Because it's like I said, the only opinion on an apology that matters is the person you hurt.
I know people want to say that other people's opinions of you shouldn't matter, but I totally don't believe that. Because if everyone believes you're something based on your actions, then wouldn't you be silly to not believe you were that? The saying is, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Not, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a horse. It doesn't work that way.
So how does one come to terms with this? My first thought was to try to reinvent myself. Change my actions and ideologies to be a better person. But hell, that's insincere too. It's aggravating to see those that have hurt me suddenly start acting a different way to try and prove that they're not who I knew them as. My first thought is who do they think they're fooling?
In the end, there may be nothing one can do once a damage has been done to another person. The bed was made and now it's time to lay in it.
I felt like there was no in between over apologizing as I'm used to and just apologizing once and moving on. Over-apologizing is gaslighting, and just moving on from a conflict is insincere. Where does the true learning from a mistake come from then — especially if the person you hurt never forgives you? Does one just sit with what they've done forever then? Talk about being a living corpse!
What can be done is to try and forgive yourself. This is a new concept that randomly came to me after I had been living with guilt for two years over how I hurt someone. And I still feel selfish for forgiving myself. But I feel more confident going forward telling anyone new my mistakes and being honest about why I did what I did so they can make an informed decision about me. I wouldn't have been able to verbalize anything about my mistakes in the past.
Over-apologizing is manipulative and insincere. It's trying to make myself and the person I hurt feel better for what happened. Apologizing and just moving on is cold. It's like pretending it never happened. Forgiving myself for what I've done helped me understand everything and all emotions around the situation and why it came about. It actually helped me learn from it.
Forgiving oneself isn't something that comes about automatically. You have to sit in the feelings of not being forgiven and see yourself villanized through who you hurt for a LONG time. Know you caused that pain. As you see this over and over again, you'll start digging deeper into exactly why you caused that pain.
It can feel synonymous to justifying your actions. That's a no-no. Just accept that this is who you are when a situation like this arises in your life. Learn and understand why. Lots of therapy will help you understand. Then, train yourself to tell anyone new that you want to be close to what you did so they can decide if they want to keep knowing you. Deal with seemingly endless amounts of rejection because of your transparency.
Because you may come across someone who wants to be in your life despite the mistakes you made. That is what makes forgiving yourself worth it.