Markers of Humility: Can You Apologize – Pleasers and Avoiders

I wasn’t kidding.  Email me if you asked the question and let me know how it went.  I want to think someone out there in reader land doesn’t just read these and delete, but really takes God’s words to heart.

Here is test number two.  Can you apologize?  Is it sincere or is it just a word, “Sorry”  to get someone off your back?  Can you apologize without saying “but” ….. “I’m sorry but you…..”  When is the last time you apologized?   It should not be all that long ago.  We all have our bad moments and we all make mistakes.

Milan and I routinely ask this question when we are speaking.  “How many of you had parents (or one parent) that never apologized?  We are alarmed that so many people (who came from Christian families) never heard an apology during all the years they were growing up.  Christians should be known for their ability to confess and apologize.  It is a very important trait to model to our own children.

If you are willing to own that you are flawed and make mistakes then apologizing should come more easily.   If you think everyone else is the problem you most likely have not done enough apologizing in your lifetime.   This week and next, we are going to look at each of the love styles and how each has difficulty with apologies.  We will then discuss exactly what each style needs to own and apologize for if they are growing and changing.

Avoiders:  Tend not to apologize because to do so involves feelings of remorse and some level of self awareness about ones effect on others.  Avoiders shy away from difficult feelings, period, so they need to learn to acknowledge the affect of their withdrawal on others and apologize when they detach, ignore, isolate or make unilateral decisions.  It might sound like this:  “I’m sorry for ignoring you all evening.  I can tell you are upset and the avoider part of me wants to run, but I’m going to make an effort to listen instead of withdrawing.  Tell me what you are feeling.”  Or, “I did not even think to ask for your feedback and opinion before I made that decision.  I’m sorry.  That is the part of me that learned to be independent and take care of myself.  That is a habit of mine that needs to change.  I’m trying to remember I have a partner and I need to include my partner in decisions.  I’m sorry I did not ask sooner but I do want to know your thoughts and feelings on the subject.

Pleaser:  Pleasers tend to over apologize but often it’s not because they are sincerely sorry.  Apologies for pleasers are just another way of avoiding the anger of others or the discomfort of tensions and problems in relationships.  Pleaser need to apologize for their passivity, denial and avoidance of the hard realities of life.  While pleaser may look like the epitome of humility their internal motivation for giving deference to others (or rescuing others) is fear that others will reject them.  Here is what an apology for a pleaser might sound like:  “I said I’m sorry this morning even though I really did not do anything wrong.  I was afraid to be honest and tell you my feelings because you may be mad.  But I’m going to apologize for not being honest.  That is what I should really be sorry for.  Here are my honest feelings, and I’m willing to live with the fact that you might be angry and upset about what I have to say.”

Or a pleaser apologizing to a child may sound like this:  “I realize I have a pattern of doing things for you that you should be doing for yourself.  I’m really sorry because in reality I’m giving you the message that you aren’t capable when in fact you are able to do far more than I give you credit for.    I’m going to let you take over doing your own laundry and I won’t be running forgotten items to school anymore.  You will probably be mad at me, but I’m learning to be OK with that too.”   I’m really sorry I’ve let my fear keep me from treating you like the age you are.

Next week we will look at the Vacillator and the Controller and Victim as far as apologizes go.