This is part two of The Art of Apology. Would you like to read the previous article first?
More often than not, we know the moment that we say or do something that our words and actions are going to merit an apology to someone. Most of us have that voice inside our heads that immediately says, “I can’t believe you just did that!” or “Well, you’re in trouble now.” If we’re in the middle of an argument, it’s hard to listen to that voice, and to be honest, if you’ve gotten to the point in a discussion where you’re saying things in the heat of the moment, my only real advice is to advocate walking away from the situation until you’ve had a chance to calm down. But for simplicity, let’s say the argument or disagreement is over and done with. How do you know when you owe someone an apology?
If you legitimately regret what you’ve said or done, then you probably owe someone an apology.
Sometimes, we don’t need to analyze our actions. We can see the results as we say the words or perform the deed, and the fact that we’ve caused someone pain, discomfort, sadness, etc. makes us feel guilty. We know that we’ve done something wrong, we know that someone else is hurting because of it, and we wish that we could take our words or actions back.
For most people, this is enough, and it’s about the truest reason to offer someone an apology. You’re sorry for what you’ve done, you want to take it back, and you understand that even though the apology doesn’t erase what happened, expressing that you were wrong gives you the opportunity to let the other person know that you didn’t mean what you said.
For other people, like me, who need a little more of a push, we have reason number two:
If you’ve done or said something that you know to be wrong, unfair, or unkind, you probably owe someone an apology.
This might feel like it’s a no-brainer, but it’s important enough that it needs pointing out—especially if, as stated above, you’re a more stubborn or less empathetic personality.
As a species, people can occasionally be selfish and self-serving. It’s a product of our ambition to compete, to survive, and to get ahead of the people around us. Likewise, there are certain things in life that just inspire the mean-streak in us. Most of us do a good job (99.9% of the time) to be more empathetic and understanding; the occasional .01% isn’t pleasant, but the potential is there. So, even if you’re in a situation where you honestly do not regret what you said or the actions that you took, it’s important to recognize that you still might owe someone an apology.
As a submissive:
Sometimes, we don’t have a choice in when we owe an apology; our actions are deemed inappropriate by our Dom, and whether we consider what we’ve done or said to be incorrect, we occasionally have to suck it up and apologize. In some ways, this can be a relief, as it alleviates us of the responsibility of determining when we were or were not in the wrong. In other ways, this is dangerous, because we can become a little too reliant on having someone else to answer to. More than that, it’s easy to develop the mentality of, “if I’m not caught, I’m not responsible.”
As subs, it’s important that we retain responsibility for our own actions. If we don’t understand why an apology is being expected from us, then it’s our responsibility to ask for an explanation of how and where we went wrong. It’s up to use to use our common sense to act within the restrictions of our relationships and to determine whether we need to bite the bullet and apologize, or negotiate/rationalize our behavior and the impending consequences.
Alternatively, if we do something irresponsible, inside of our relationship or out of it, we need to be able to stand up and take responsibility for our choices, without our Doms holding us accountable.
The next article will address how to apologize once you’ve decided that you need to do so. In the meantime, take a moment to consider:
How do you determine when you need to apologize for something? How often do you find yourself apologizing?