Monday, June 1, 2009

Trash Apologies

A popular counterfeit of forgiveness is overlooking the wrong. This is where you minimize the offense. For example, when you hear a battered woman say, “He really didn’t mean to push me through that door,” or a mother say to her toddler, “Daddy didn’t mean to yell at you,” you are hearing classic minimizing. If he didn’t mean it, then why did he do and say those things? Sometimes we think we’re being forgiving when we look the other way. We think that’s healthy, but it’s not.

True forgiveness is seeing something for what it really is; that’s when you effectively forgive. When someone makes a rude remark and hurts your feelings, don’t just say, “Never mind,” when they ask you what is wrong. We think we’re forgiving if we say, “Oh no, it’s nothing.” That in itself is wrong. Do not minimize the offense by overlooking it in an effort to appear merciful and patient. In fact, we need to pay greater attention to what motivates us to overlook an offense. Sometimes fear motivates us not to say how we are actually hurt. It is even possible that we want to seem forgiving to another, because, after all, we are Christians, but really that is our pride at work.

Minimization also allows for what Dr. Aaron Lazare has titled trash apologies. Trash apologies contain phrases like these:

  • Mistakes were made. (Rather than “I made a mistake.”)
  • To the degree you were offended. (Rather than“To the degree I offended you.)
  • If I did anything wrong . . . (“If” as opposed to “I did something wrong.”)
  • You can’t expect me to be perfect.
  • If I’ve hurt anybody, I’m sorry. (Again, “If” as opposed to “I’ve hurt you, and I’m sorry.”)
  • I’m sorry you are mad. (But I am not responsible for your being mad.)

(Excerpt from Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness)

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was trying to put my finger on how I was getting apologized to but not really receiving the apology because it was so NOT a real apology now I have a name for it TRASH APOLOGIES!

I heard you on along the way today (7-8-09) and was soooo impacted by your passion for the freedom of Gods children so I wrote on the "Along the way" website. I thought I would share with you.

Thank you so much for having Jackie Kendall on the radio today. She was SOOOOOO powerful! I will be purchasing her book Free to Love... She is so passionate about the freedom of Gods children in a way I have never heard! Thank you again for having her!!!!