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All of us have uttered the word “sorry” many, many time in our lives. Some people say it so often that it is as much a part of their vocabulary as “hello” and “good-bye.” Some people cringe so strongly when they say it that it seems like “sorry” actually has a bad taste. Neither of these descriptions exude an authentic, meaningful apology. [Scroll down for VIDEO]
Merriam-Webster defines apology as “an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret.”
This definition is clear in what the word means, but actually giving a good apology can feel elusive, or like a talent that many struggle to achieve. I would like to help you change that by sharing with you five concepts that can help you create and deliver a quality apology and meaningful exchange with another.
This is the most important of all the concepts because truth and authenticity is key in order to offer true amends to someone as well as creating a change in interpersonal healing. We have all probably had an experience when someone utter the word “sorry” and it felt like a bold face lie. This neither draw anyone closer nor released someone from feeling bad about hurting another. Basically, this is a waste of an experience. Instead, take time to evaluate, think, reflect and perhaps study how someone felt wronged, even if it is not how YOU would think or feel. Then once you have been able to make this connection, identify honest words that truly reflect how you feel.
When preparing to give your apology, be mindful of how you may be explaining away the wrong actions. People often will say things like “I am sorry, but I was really stressed that day; and I didn’t even think about how important it was to be on time.” This kind of statement does not make the other feel like their feelings matter; adding context may be important down the road, but at the stage of offering an acknowledgment of transgression, the “why” doesn’t matter as much.
This word is just as you might imagine. It means presenting yourself in a soft, open and somewhat reverent manner. Especially in intimate relationships, most of the communication between people is non-verbal. This means that even if your words are perfectly crafted, it is your tone, body position and eye contact that will really send the messages. Sitting down next to or across from the other person, alternating between looking them in their eyes and looking down, and being able to show emotion through tears, a soft voice or gentle affection is the most effective way to communicate “I get that I wronged you and I care about you.”
This is the part of the puzzle that can get many people stuck. This is addressing the when, where, and how you will apologize. Timeliness of an apology is important; often times we want to apologize right away so that the other person can see that we are on top of things. However, for deeper and more complex issues, like betrayal or secret keeping, scheduling or inviting another to hear your apology sends the message that you respect their time and feelings [WHEN]. In addition, location matters as you want to acknowledge privacy as well as a place where you can manage distractions and be able to reveal yourself in the “soft “manner described above [WHERE]. Finally, how or what method is VERY important especially when the apology is going to an important person. Text, email or voicemails may work for minor infractions, but face to face is the most vulnerable method that offers the most opportunity for resolution and connection [HOW].
In a perfect world, saying “sorry” would be enough for people to wipe the slate clean and move on with no hesitation. However, many times an apology may not be met with forgiveness or acceptance. Instead, especially in difficult situations, it may be met with resistance. If one can create an apology that is sincere, thoughtful, mindful, and vulnerable then that is success. The reaction to it is the wild card. Instead, focus on doing your part and identifying how crafting and sharing this apology is representative of personal growth and that the other person’s reaction is theirs to have and you must respect and accept it as true. Finally, many times apologies must be delivered in higher doses. Saying “I’m sorry” may be a statement someone needs to hear and experience many times to begin to see the other as genuine and repentant.
~a final message~
The art of the apology is often like actual art in that its quality is in the eye of the beholder. However, creating and giving an apology has the opportunity for one to experience transformation and connection regardless of how another takes it.
You may be reading this simply for personal and/or interpersonal growth, but you may also be reading this because you’re relationship with someone you care about has been wounded; thus, an apology is needed for healing and reconciliation. If this is you, you should be proud of yourself for having the maturity and courage to further investigate on delivering a proper apology. However, if the offended party is suffering from a deeper wound that stems from events like betrayal, infidelity, abuse, addiction, etc., then I encourage you to consider working with a professional relationship counselor to better assist you (and your loved one) on how to proceed with healing. Keep on pressing forward.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:
Licensed Marital & Family Therapist
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
December just wouldn’t be December and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t get see that adorable 9th reindeer with the illuminating red nose displayed on front lawns and rooftops across the country. Would you not feel a little empty if you went the entire holiday season without hearing the beloved song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I know I would. Rudolph is a symbol of strength and perseverance during the holiday season. He is the Christmas underdog (deer) that rose to the occasion after being bullied and beat down. Yes, yes, we LOVE that little guy!
But do you really think that Rudolph walked away from this experience unscathed? Surely we aren’t naïve enough to think that everything was just peachy for Rudolph after that particular foggy Christmas Eve. Year after year we sing about him, wear his picture, and tell his heroic story. In the midst of our praise, have we stopped to consider the possibility that Rudolph may have suffered a great deal in his youth? Have we taken a step back and contemplated the likelihood that his childhood (fawnhood??) experiences with his peers may have resulted in his own battle with mental health issues? Well, let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
♫ But all the other reindeer ♪
♪ Use to laugh and call him names ♫
♫ They never let poor Rudolph ♪
♪ Join in any reindeer games ♫
Was Rudolph traumatized? Rudolph was clearly a victim of bullying. If you have never experienced chronic bullying as a child then it is likely that you can’t understand and fully appreciate just how devastating, scarring, and life-changing it can be. People who have experienced this level of cruelty from the Scut Farkus’ of the world often suffer from the dark aftermath well into their adult life. And although healing is definitely within the realm of possibility, scars will nonetheless be left behind.
For Rudolph, I often wonder, “what ever became of him after the night he saved Christmas?” From the looks of it, this seems to be where his story ends. At least I am not aware of any more dreadfully foggy Christmas Eves that needed the light of a red-nosed reindeer to guide Santa’s sleigh. In fact, in the age of technology, I am sure that Santa’s sleigh and eight reindeer are outfitted quite nicely with the latest lighting systems and GPS technology. Whatever may have become of poor Rudolph, I just hope that he found happiness and healing from the wounds of his childhood. I hope he eventually realized that his self-worth isn’t and never should have been dependent on his nose or performance.
♫ Then how the reindeer loved him ♪
♪ As they shouted out with glee! ♫
♫ Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer ♪
♪ You’ll down in history! ♫
Did Rudolph battle with compulsive attachment? So, we just established the possibility that Rudolph may have suffered some lasting negative effects from the traumatic experiences he had among his peers. Well, if that be the case, then there also may be a slight chance that Rudolph may struggle with compulsive attachment, particularly in the form of traumatic bonding. “What is traumatic bonding?” you ask. Simply stated, people who experience traumatic bonding are often attracted to others who are dangerous and/or simply not good for them. They often desire and long for the acceptance and approval of others who will never give it to them. There usually is a lot more that is involved in this phenomenon, but you get the picture, right?
Back to our red-nosed friend, Rudolph seemed adamant to be a part of this crowd that constantly belittled, demeaned, and rejected him. I am particularly bothered by the notion that he was finally accepted as part of the group ONLY after they found use for his “deformity” not in spite of it. BUT HE WAS SO LOVED!! Blah blah blah! Yada yada yada! Hogwash! Rudolph, if you’re out there, I hope you have found the peace, love, and acceptance that you have longed for and rightly deserve. Please accept my deepest apologies if I, in any way, have contributed to your pain by burying my head in the sand. I hope you have moved beyond those dirty reindeer games to a way of life that is filled with peace, integrity, and love.
Here’s my disclaimer: Magic sleighs! Flying reindeer! Illuminating red noses! Obviously there is something magical and mysterious going on at the North Pole that is beyond my understanding. Thus, I think it is safe to say that these human concepts and phenomena likely don’t fit with the relational complexities of magical reindeer. So, I am sure that I, once again, am over analyzing the entire situation with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; but, you can’t help but wonder, right?
My challenge to you this holiday is to remember the underdog. Take time to remember that even in the midst of holiday cheer, there are still people suffering and longing to be loved and accepted. Take it upon yourself to show them your unconditional love for humanity through acts of service and kindness. If you happen to be one who is suffering this holiday season, whether it be the lasting effects of bullying or something altogether different, I hope you won’t delay in getting the help that is likely long overdue. Take the first step in loving yourself by gifting yourself the gift of therapy. You deserve to have peace.
Blessings to you all this holiday season!
Licensed Marital & Family Therapist
Note: This article is part 2 of a 3 part series. If you missed part 1, no fears, click HERE! And if you haven’t read our third and final article in the series on Ebenezer Scrooge, click HERE! Also, if you enjoyed this article, be sure to watch the YouTube clip below where Josh and Carrie lightheartedly discuss the issues that RUDOLPH may, but most likely may not, be dealing with. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel!
Here are some more fun holiday blogs by Josh. Enjoy!
I was 10 years old when my fear of clowns began. Many people of my generation (I’m 37…and climbing) know exactly what I’m talking about! That’s right, approximately 27 years ago, Stephen King’s bestselling book, IT, was made into a TV series. This horror flick starred actor, Tim Curry, as Pennywise – the evil clown that terrorizes the town of Derry, Maine every 27 years.
So, you might be wondering, “What in the world does a horror flick about some psychedelic clown have to do with mental health or addiction? Where are you going with this, Josh?” Well, I implore you to keep reading to find out.
As many of you probably are aware, this story was recently filmed and released to the big screen as a major motion picture. For the majority of my adult life, I have more or less steered clear of horror films, but, for reasons of nostalgia, I decided to go see this one. Yes, it was dark, scary, and I even struggled with some post-movie anticipation considering I would be going home in the dark to an empty house as my kids were staying with their grandparents and my wife was away on business. To my surprise, I found myself really enjoying the movie. Later that evening, as I sat in my empty home, my mind kept replaying certain scenes from the movie, although I was disturbed, I didn’t find myself “freaked out” or scared by any means. The more I stewed and pondered all by my lonesome, the more I was able to comprehend the amazing depths of this story. The more disturbed I became, I began to realize that it wasn’t the sinister clown that fed off children, or the dark, startling, and often, bloody scenes that created this increasingly feeling of uneasiness. No, I realized there was something else about this story that was much more disturbing than what was on the surface. This is when I began to think about the stories of my clients and the work I do as a sex addiction therapist.
If I haven’t bored you yet, then please journey with me into the depths of my mind as I address 5 observations about how this dark and sinister story relates to the life of an addict.
********SPOILER ALERT********SPOILER ALERT********SPOILER ALERT********
The Loss of Innocence. This story centers on lives and friendship of seven pre-teens (six boys and a girl) that have not only been treated as lepers by their peers, but it also seems that the community around them has deemed them misfits of a sort. All seven of these middle-schoolers have been hit by life in ways that we wouldn’t wish upon any child. If you look beyond the humor and dismissing attitudes, you can see an underlying suffering that each child is working hard to manage. To add insult to injury, they don’t feel safe enough to turn to the adults in their lives as they quickly learn that “bury your head in the sand” seems to be a mantra that most of the adults live by in Derry. Feeling protected, feeling nurtured, feeling loved, wanted, and accepted – all the feelings our children experience that makes them feel safe – sadly is not part of the narrative for these seven kids.
Sound familiar? Many addicts have been hit by life in ways that most of us have a hard time even imagining. These situations often, but not always, involve ill-equipped grown-ups whom are either neglecting their responsibilities as caregivers (i.e., burying their heads in the sand) and/or actively causing harm to their children or the kids they are overseeing. This often results in a lost childhood – the premature loss of innocence. Many addicts have come to understand the darkness of this world long before they should have; and in ways that many of us would never understand.
Strength in Community. As they deal with their feelings of loss, emptiness, and anger, these seven buddies all seem to gravitate toward one another. And through their unique but shared experiences of the dark world around them, they bond together. Despite how reckless they could be at times, these friendships have become the most important part of their short lives. It’s a matter of survival. In a town full of people, they come to the realization that they are at war, and they are fighting it alone.
Addicts are at war! Since they are great survivors, they are resourceful enough to find a community that supports them, even if it is unhealthy and reckless at times. This also is where their drug of choice comes into play. Their drug becomes an important part of the community as it is a way to self-medicate and escape the darkness, even if it is just for a moment’s time. The drug becomes a mechanism for survival.
The Power of imagination. One of the more disturbing components of this story is that Pennywise (the evil clown) feeds off the imagination of children. You see, the world has stripped the grownups of their imagination, but children still have enough innocence left to imagine wild and crazy things. Thus, Pennywise is able to transform and become the very thing these kids fear the most. What is even more interesting is that it is through the power of imagination that these supposedly weak and inept children are able to defeat him.
Addicts often make great use of their imagination. Their imagination is where they go to escape the harsh realities of the world they live in. In recovery, we (mental health professionals) often loosely quote M. Scott Peck, saying “pursue reality at all costs,” but we don’t want them to lose their imagination. In fact, they are encouraged to imagine, fantasize, and dream about things that can be realistically pursued and achieved. We want them to abandon the use of their imagination as an escape, and start utilizing it as mechanism to inspire hope and change. This is how they defeat their addict – their own personal Pennywise – once and for all.
The Drive to Survive. As mentioned earlier, children are great survivors! We see that demonstrated very well in this story. These seven misfits, through all their troubles, heartache, and fear, don’t give up easily. They are determined to defeat this evil that plagues them. Interestingly enough, to defeat Pennywise the Clown is to defeat their own fears and demons.
The story of an addict is often a story of survival. They have been at war for so long that they have a very hard time conceptualizing that the war is over; and now it is time to heal and live. But, how does someone function in a worn-torn world as a civilian when they spent most of their life as a soldier? There is something to be admired about their grit and determination, but their darkest and most difficult battle is yet to come – the battle that ends the war.
The Desire to Live. The second part of this motion picture has not been made, or, at least, released to the big screen yet. But, if the writers and directors continue to follow the original storyline, then these seven friends will return to Derry, Maine, once again, 27 years later. You guessed it! Pennywise is NOT dead! They merely drove him back into his lair, but they did not destroy him; and now HE’S BACK! In the second half of this story, these seven friends, now middle-aged adults, want to be rid of this evil once and for all so they can LIVE THEIR LIVES! This will require them to venture into the darkness in which IT lives and fight him on his turf, in his true form, one LAST time!
The second part of an addict’s story is recovery. The second act of their journey often begins when they step foot in my office. They have realized that through all their efforts, they have not defeated the evil that lurks in the darkness, but have merely crippled it…..but only for a while. Eventually the darkness comes back with a vengeance! And with a strength and ferocity that they have not seen before. This is when they realize that it is time to be DONE WITH IT once and for all! It is time to venture into the darkness and face the terror that has plagued them for years. It is time to heal from the wounds of life and take back their soul that they so long ago sold to the Devil of Addiction as a means of survival. And so their story of recovery begins.
Wow!! I get chills thinking about this! It’s odd to me that a horror film gives me chills in this way. If you have a heart for recovery and you happen to go see this movie (or read the book), then I hope you will spend some time thinking on some of these concepts. I look forward to watching it again; and I can’t wait for the second half to be released.
Whether you have seen this movie or not, if you are struggling with addiction of any kind, then I urge you to begin your battle to end the war. Start recovery today! Feel free to contact me or my colleagues if you need some guidance on getting that ball rolling. Blessings to you all.
The reality in the world of mental health is that, culturally, we do not consider the use of medications a good choice. The stigma with mental health and, additionally, the use of psychotropic medications as a means to help our mood or state of mind are often met with feelings of helplessness and shame. It may be further exacerbated by hearing messages of “be stronger,” “keep it together,” or, even “love your God more.” These types of responses to someone’s mental state or their expressed interest in taking prescribed medication is simply INSULT TO INJURY. If you have experienced these responses from others you’ve opened up to, I am terribly sorry that your desire to heal, recover, or find happiness was not met with more support.
What I have learned as a mental health provider is that by the time a client makes it to my office, it is because their suffering is quite pronounced and they are desperate for relief. They, often times, have already made multiple visits to their primary care provider (PCP) in an attempt to treat the symptoms of depressions, anxiety, sleep deprivation and/or addiction, before beginning their treatment with me – an EXHAUSTIVE EXPERIENCE!!
“SOMETHING JUST ISN’T RIGHT!”
If you have been struggling with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, anxiety, sadness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, constant worry, and more, for more than two weeks, then maybe it is time for you to act.
“BUT WHERE DO I BEGIN?”
To get medication management ball rolling for you, I have 5 tips I’d like to share with you.
1. Take the mental health screener. I prefer the PHQ-9 and/or the GAD-7. This can be helpful for you to understand the severity of your symptoms and is also helpful to take to the provider at your initial appointment.
2. Find a provider to consult about medication management. Often the beginning point is sharing your concerns with your PCP. They are often helpful in referring you to a specialist. There are several mental health professionals who assess, diagnose, and prescribe medications.
Most people think of psychiatrist, whom are medical doctors (MD), when it comes medication management. What people often are not aware of is that advanced practiced register nurses (APRN) with prescriptive authority specializing in mental health, also has the ability to assess, diagnose, prescribe meds, and create a treatment plan for you. You may see this noted as APRN, CNS Rx-PMH or APRN, NP Rx-PMH. I, myself, am an APRN.
3. Prepare for your appointment. Before you go to your first appointment, you should be prepared.
Compile a comprehensive list of any medications that you are currently taking. This includes any over the counter medications, supplements and vitamins. This information is important in considering options for you.
Take note of any medications that you may have tried in the past. Was it helpful or not? Were there side effects and any information related to the use of that medication?
Determine your goals. Your goals matter. Share with your provider any goals and/or expectations you may have concerning the use of a medication.
Ask questions! Your symptoms and diagnoses will determine the choice of medication. Knowing why a specific drug is suggested for you (and potential side effects) is important information to have for most people.
4. Follow up with your provider. It is up to you to carry out the plan that you and your provider decided upon. Commit to yourself to stay with the treatment long enough to give it a chance. Have a clear understanding of how long before you experience any relief of symptoms. If the plan is not effective you can decide together what the next step may be.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GENETIC TESTING?
An innovative approach that providers may suggest is the use of genetic testing. This is called pharmacogenomics. The genetic testing requires a swab of the inner cheek but provides a wealth of information in effort to prescribing medication that is uniquely best suited for you . This happens to be a service I provide, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
5. Realize that your recovery is possible. Treatment does work and there is much hope that you will get better and recover from your current symptoms.
I hope you can also come to realize that it is possible you may have a genetic predisposition and/or chemical reason you need to utilize medication. This stands alone and is not resolved with psychotherapy.
Consider utilizing psychotherapy in addition to medication. Once symptoms are treated it can then be optimal to look at what may be triggering symptoms or any unresolved issue that creates a constant undercurrent contributing to your symptoms.
Weather you are considering the use of genetic testing, treating acute symptoms related to a crisis, managing symptoms from a chronic mental illness or simply considering options, my hope is that you won’t tarry in that space for very long. Make a decision today that you will take the first step in your recovery and healing journey. You are more than welcome to contact me to set up an appointment, ask questions, or to allow me to simply point you in the right direction.