“You know, you didn’t apologize to me.”
“For having spoken rudely to me two days ago.”
“When you got angry and insulted me when I said that you shouldn’t ride bikes because they’re not safe.”
“Well, I love riding. And you persisted despite me explaining how integral a part of my life it is.”
“That doesn’t allow you to be rude.” Her voice grew louder.
“I wasn’t rude. I just told you that I wouldn’t stop riding and that you should back off.”
“So you won’t apologize?”
“THEN YOU DON’T DESERVE ME!” she cried.
This occurred in a mall. She walked away in a huff. I finished my burger, got up and walked quietly, mentally fist-bumping every man who gave me a look of admiration.
Mankind has evolved in leaps and bounds in technology or quality of life. But our limbic brain – our lizard brain – stays as apish as it was about 15 million years ago.
Standing up for what you believe in was always considered a taboo. If someone is offended by what you did or said, the status quo demands an apology. Why? Because the person was hurt. It doesn’t matter if your sentiments were hurt as well.
This logic is messed up. But then, society is messed up anyway.
The Health Hazards of Constantly Apologizing
Apologies exact a toll on the offender. When you apologize to someone, you hand the power over to them – the power to extend forgiveness and appear like ‘the bigger person’, or to deny the apology and make you feel like crap.
This does not mean that we should not apologize when we do something wrong. But apologies should not be trivial or rendered often. Especially not when you meant what you said in the first place. Because when you apologize for something you meant, you silently tell the ‘victim’,
Your approval of me is more important than my personal feelings.
You know this, right? Haven’t you found yourself in a situation where you thought, “I shouldn’t have to apologize.” Yet, many of us do it because we cave into social pressure. Trust me, as much as that feeling of guilt is real, it’s irrelevant.
Here is what you should do to get rid of the feeling of guilt:
1. Be Comfortable in Your Skin
The main reason for guilt stems from being unsure about ourselves. Fear and anxiety dominate our thoughts during such periods.
But we have to free ourselves from these insecurities and take back the power of being secure in who we are – flaws, strengths, et all.
2. Choose Your Battles
“Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most important ones and let go of the rest.” – C. Joybell C.
Not all battles are worth fighting. In fact, most are not.
Fighting many battles leaves your tank empty when you need the energy to stand up for yourself the most. Choose a battle that has serious, long-term implications. Let go if the consequences are little.
You will encounter trolls and dismissive people. Their picking on you doesn’t highlight your inadequacies but on their own. Carry on with your work. But don’t be afraid to throw back the occasional punch. One punch which makes the world stand up and say to them – “Oh! You got ‘owned’!”
And don’t apologize for that punch.
3. Don’t Be Offensive
Mounting personal attacks on someone who pisses you off makes you an easy target for your instigator.
He can declare to the world that you called him an [insert expletive here] and gain sympathy. All this while he was the person who started it.
Stay calm and go about your work. If you must, respond to the situation, not the person. This emotional balance will help you keep critics at bay, maintain inner peace and command respect from those around you.
4. What Matters More?
Does the person matter more, or what he said? If it’s the former, is he having a bad day? Is it a one-off instance or frequent?
If it is one-off, can you find the reason behind it, or ignore it? And if it is frequent, do you want to stay connected with someone who behaves like a jerk all the time? I don’t need to elaborate, do I? You get the drift.
If you stand up for yourself, there will be consequences. People will call you an arrogant, selfish jerk, rude, and many other adjectives. They will hate you.
But this isn’t hatred. It’s jealousy – of your guts to speak your mind and stand up for what you believe in. After all, people hate those whom they want to be like.
Nobody owes you anything, and you owe nothing to anyone. Stop apologizing for what is right by you. Man up and own the consequences of your actions.
Live your life with no regrets, like your mom will be proud to read if it appears on the front page of a newspaper. For all you know, someday it will.