Do you relate to this familiar scenario?
You get into a spat with your partner, or it could be a family member, friend, or other.
The other person becomes angry and either communicates angrily, withdraws, or both.
You are angry, and maybe hurt. There is distance between the two of you, and you feel that you are owed an apology. You are focused on the other person’s angry behavior, words and withdrawal. How could they be so difficult? And you didn’t deserve any of this. Right?
As long as both you and the other person stay in this place, there continues to be distance between you. Sometimes through no bad intention this painful distance can go on for hours. Or days. Or even can go on so long that you both forget why you a had a fight in the first place. Wow.
How can caring people climb out of this cold, miserable place?
What is needed is for you to step back and look at the situation more objectively rather than just from your own point of view. Look at the whole situation from the perspective of an impartial outside observer. Try to imagine what the other person’s experience might have been like. You need to be able to appreciate that both you and the other person are likely feeling very similarly. The fact that you too have been angry and you also have something to apologize for can come as a revelation, and may be hard to accept initially.
Everyone has their own experience, and each person can legitimately see how they have been egregiously wronged. But why does each of us struggle to see the other’s painful experience? How can something so obvious remain so hidden from us?
The ego can be very good at focusing on the other person’s bad behavior, feeling wronged, and feeling self-righteous anger. That self-righteous smugness can feel pretty good.
And it gets worse. Even when you start to see that it might be a good idea to apologize for anything on your part and take away the distance between the two of you, the ego can fight the idea. It can make you feel that that would be a mistake, and that you would be giving in and losing something. It can make you feel that you’re betraying yourself.
But the self-righteous smugness and the distance may not sit well with another part of you. In actuality, in bridging a gap between yourself and someone you care about, you are actually being mature and self-aware. The shift to being more objective, being able to see things more impartially and compassionately, gives you a more accurate perspective. What you will likely achieve by apologizing for your part is feeling better about yourself for being more mature and coming from a bigger part of yourself, restoring the peace and harmony between you, and perhaps even prompting an apology from the other person.
So: practice mistrusting your ego, that part of you which tends to be one-sided, feel hard done by, and prone to self-righteous anger. Practice shifting into an objective observer, calmly looking at the whole situation from the outside in order to gain the objectivity that you need to handle the situation with maturity. You will be left feeling better about yourself, as well has having more harmony in your life.