Get ready to strengthen that backbone....
Today, I did something brave. Usually, brave also means foolish. In this case, I may end up looking a little foolish, it's true, but anyone who cares about me will not focus on the negatives, but on the positives--like the fact that I'm owning up to my disconnects.
How do you own up to something you said and/or did that you wish you could take back? Communicate. Yup, it's that simple. Remove ego and pride. If you're going to put yourself out there, there's no reason to use the psyche's two favorite weapons (and shields). Remember, YOU made the faux pas so it's you who has to fix it. No one else can.
Maybe you had an argument and said some regrettable things? If the other person asks you to apologize and take back the hurtful words you probably didn't mean to say, do it. It's a gift. You're getting a free pass, as long as you can put your ego and pride away long enough to say, "I'm sorry." If you can't do that, you don't deserve to be forgiven. You're selfish and self-centered, a victim who wants to stay angry. Or worse, your apathy has taken over--because you want it to. Easier than caring, or rather, having to take responsibility for anyone other than yourself.
Those sad souls have my pity--but will never again get my time. I dearly hope they don't get yours either....
Anger is often used to justify wrong-thinking. Anyone who holds onto anger wants to believe in negatives--it might even make that person's life easier if there are individuals within their direct social circle who want them to believe the negatives. But take my advice and ditch the haters. Go ahead and apologize to anyone who has been supportive of you and your life--they're worth it. People who encourage dissent and derision, especially in a family group, are social destroyers exhibiting pathologies connected to the Dark Triad; rewarding their negative behavior will only keep you stuck and sad, sad and stuck. Being socially ruthless may sometimes help in the short term, but in the long-term, ruthlessness isolates you from people who care about you. That's no way to live.
For the kind people in this world, beware! You are most vulnerable to sabotage from narcissists. You're operating on a different system--think Windows versus iOS. People who choose to be cruel to kind individuals are attempting manipulation. Don't fall for it! Say goodbye, even if it's painful. That's brave. Actually, it's more than brave. It's smart.
Let's say it's you who made the social mistake. But instead of dealing with an individual who has a victim-mentality, you are dealing with an open, compassionate person who respects you and cares for you. That person is worthy of your time, energy, efforts, and any resources used to adequately express your sorrow at causing distress, Even if it means putting yourself out there for rejection.
Hey, if you put yourself out there and end up getting rejected (or ignored), at least you now know that the person you're trying to communicate with isn't open to continuing whatever relationship you had before the mistake. If that happens, I'm deeply sorry. The rejection may just mean that the person who feels hurt needs more time. Once you've offered the olive branch, you have to let go of whatever happened on your end. The ball is in someone else's court--you've done all you can. When you actually go the extra mile to make sure your message gets across, you should feel proud of yourself, no matter the outcome. Happy and relieved to have done the right thing--not for anyone else, but for yourself. You can't control how other people respond. So, whether or not they respond, or how they respond, is actually irrelevant. You being authentic to yourself by taking responsibility for a mistake is what is most important to your continued happiness--and that should be your priority, not what others think or feel or do. Yes, people always matter more than problems, so you need to offer whatever solutions you can--meaning, sincerely apologize--but if the other party or parties involved choose to hold on to negatives, that's not something you're responsible for.
The truth is always the truth. Recognizable efforts that aren't recognized aren't your problem. Maybe the individual you're trying to communicate with is letting ego and pride get in the way of accepting your apology? No matter what the reason, as long as you leave the door open a crack for friendship--as my grandmother would say--the person you care about may eventually relent and reach out. If that never happens, as painful as it is, you're better off. Only give your time, energy, efforts, and resources to people who really care about you. Those people will be solution-seekers. Positive folks who will ALWAYS look for why you're the amazing person you are instead of translating your words and actions as evil from the get-go. If you don't get the benefit of the doubt from people who claim to care for you--they don't really care for you. Face that reality so you can stop running on their hamster-wheel. Being held emotional hostage is horrible, but you gotta feel compassion for folks locked into a problem-seeking or victim-mentality. They live a tortured existence, always searching for ways to remain wounded. Healing isn't even a thought. You're better off alone than staying in any social circle that insists on seeing only negatives because it is who they are, NOT who you are.
Exercising your backbone feels good. A friend in Ireland encouraged me this summer to stop explaining away bad social behavior by others. And, in doing so, to also stop surviving by maintaining what are ultimately weak social connections anyway. I realized those "weak links" are one of the main reasons I always feel like I'm just treading water, never making any meaningful progress. Because, I'm not. How can I, when I've surrounded myself with people who don't want to see me succeed? We can only start thriving when we clear negative people from our social group--the saboteurs and destroyers who refuse to nurture social connections in order to avoid being responsible for them. Yuck. Dump those leaches and you'll clear space for positive friends (and family) to remain in your life.
When I began thinking about an unexpected social situation that was weighing pretty heavily on me, my initial thought was, "I can't reach out--the other person has to." But, there are no "have-tos" when it comes to maintaining social connections that matter to you. You just have to start communicating in the hopes that the other person sees you working toward a solution and meets you halfway. Doesn't always happen, and it's totally okay if it doesn't. YOU did the right thing--that doesn't mean anyone else will. Doing what's right instead of what's easy gives you peace of mind. And, increases self-respect. Those things feed directly into your self-esteem, which in turn creates greater confidence. These are all powerful tools in defeating self-sabotage not just today or tomorrow, but FOREVER.
For the record, ignoring people you supposedly love isn't helpful or kind or compassionate. It's cold. Ruthless. And, extraordinarily selfish. Responding is a kindness you show out of love. It speaks to how much you not only respect the other person, but yourself, too. Acknowledging an apology is compassionate. So is accepting your part in any social misstep. Taking ownership for our mistakes is crucial to nurturing long-term relationships--whether romantic, familial, work-related, or simply friends and neighbors.
It takes major backbone to admit to a mistake. You may feel foolish at first while spelling out your wrongs to make it right, but it's worth a little humility to maintain important connections--like with anyone you love. People who don't care about you will let you slip away into the social abyss. If a month or more has gone by and you haven't spoken to a person you care for, it's time to reach out, regardless of who's turn it may be or who hurt who.
Unconditional love starts with you. If you want to receive it one day, you must first learn to give it to yourself so you can share it with others. Forgiveness--both in the giving and the receiving--is the ultimate act of both compassion and unconditional love. It requires accepting not only your own flaws, but the flaws you may see in others as well. Recognizing humanity's perfect imperfection is the very definition of what can only be described as divine grace. Get ready to sprout your wings! We're doing some serious angel-training now.
I am very PROUD of each of you for working hard to improve your life, freeing yourself from the users, the takers, the abusers, the sycophants, and the destroyers. Every day that you make even one small change toward taking back control, you move closer to earning the freedom you need (and deserve!) to live your best life. Now that's what I call courage!
I believe in you! But you must believe, too, for true miracles to happen. Never, ever forget that YOU are one of those miracles....