We were shopping in the grocery store when a middle-aged man ran into my wife with a shopping cart. Ouch! I’m sure it was accidental, but he bumped her pretty hard. He looked up, then proceeded to walk away without saying a word. I said something to him about it, and his response was to snidely look at her and say, “Excuse me.” And with that, he walked on.
In life you don’t always get the response you expect from others, and one of the hardest things for people to say is, “I’m sorry”.
People don’t say I’m sorry for a wide variety of reasons. They may genuinely feel that they didn’t do anything wrong, that their actions were not intended to cause you harm, or they may believe they had valid reasons for acting the way they did. There are also people who are insecure perfectionists. They don’t understand that you can make mistakes and still be a worthwhile human being, so there is no way they are going to say I’m sorry because it would cause serious damage to their own self-esteem. Then, there are those individuals that lack empathy; the ability to understand another’s point of view.
People can be hurtful. They can be mean. Most often, they are insensitive. I am not making excuses for them. I am more concerned about you. Receiving an apology can restore dignity and the feeling of being esteemed. Not getting an “I’m sorry” means that the other person never acknowledged your feelings; your hurt, your pain. So, what do you do when someone owes you an apology, but it is never given?
In talking with friends about this subject I found a wide variety of responses. For the most part, they felt that it depended on the harm done and the relationship (or lack of relationship) you have with the offending person. But, absolutely everyone had a story to tell. They all experienced being hurt by someone and not getting a needed apology. Each person recalled an incident, in detail, and many relived all of the feelings and emotions. It is clear that we all have wounds. And while some have been caused by strangers, the deepest seem to come from family or people who were once dear friends.
In the end, it all comes down to what you are willing to tolerate. You can nurse a grudge, silently or otherwise. You can try to forgive and forget, remembering that forgiveness is not a onetime thing but an ongoing process. You can work on rebuilding what was lost, if the other person is amiable. Or, you can cut off communication altogether and only focus on healthy relationships (needed when the person does not care about your feelings or the offense is unforgiveable). This is where you get to choose. You have the power. You get to decide.
In the grocery store we call life, people are going to run into you with their carts and not say they are sorry. You don’t have any control over them, but the one thing you always have control over is how you respond. It’s up to you.
Just don’t let someone else’s unfeeling actions turn you into someone you are not.
Bob Payne, Manager
Bob also has a personal blog you can find at www.siftedsoul.com.