1. You need to get clear about your intentions and how you feel about the disconnect.
Ex. “I can tell I’m not feeling good about how that last conversation went and I want to try to repair the connection between us.”
2. You have to acknowledge your specific actions. You can’t just say sorry. The other person needs to hear that you understand exactly what you did.
Ex. “I acknowledge that I raised my voice and told you that you don’t care about anyone but yourself.”
3. You need to do some work to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what that experience was like for them. This is called empathy.
Ex. “I imagine you felt misunderstood, blamed, angry, and sad when I said that.”
4. You will need to get vulnerable about your emotional experience during the apology.
Ex. “I’m noticing I’m feeling embarrassed and guilty that I acted that way.”
Less is More – Don’t ramble on if things feel tense. People can feel easily overwhelmed when they are feeling threatened and sensitive.
No Excuses – Be mindful that you don’t slip in any excuses or accusations. They will probably be noticed and defended immediately.
Eye Contact – Look at the other person eyes when you speak. This shows your authenticity and it allows you to attune to their reaction.
Breathe – Stay present with yourself by taking deep breaths to relax your nervous system. This will help you work with any residual tension as it comes up.
Good luck out there! If you are like me, I have to do this multiple times per week!!!!
It’s tough to see privilege when it’s all we have ever known and no one has ever pointed out how it works in our Life. Moreover, when we see other Men being applauded and rewarded for acting childish, it bends our sense of reality. Men have gotten away with being emotionally immature for a very long time and our defensive strategy is to “play dumb” and pretend like we don’t understand.
“Me? No, I don’t do that. I don’t punish others through passive-aggressive comments, restricting eye contact, dismissal, avoidance, and covert blame. I am certainly not the one who manipulates others by collapsing into pity and gaslighting those who challenge me.”
The privilege isn’t written into the law. The privilege is in the power dynamics that get played out in marriages, business relationships, and societal norms. Our comfort blanket is our “free pass” to act like little boys.
And, what does a young child do when someone wants to take their blanket away? They get kick, yell, name call, and run away. Those are the only tools they have in their toolbox. If a boy never learns new skills, they will still act like same little kid in a man’s body.
The unfortunate part about this approach is that it works! It works really well! Grown men are a lot scarier than little boys and they know how to move their weight around. We are physically dominant, we hold positions of power, and we have money. We are the religious leaders, the bank owners, the bread winners, and the loudest voices in the room.
The “pampering” we’ve received is the lack of challenge. It looks like others walking on egg shells around us, fearing that we will either disconnect or blow up. It looks like other Men colluding with each other in the belief that “we know better”. It looks like denying our history of violence, oppression, and the fear that has been passed down. We don’t notice that this is happening because we don’t have to. It’s easier to turn a blind eye than it is to challenge the status quo.
If we want to grow up, we have some work to do. We have to start calling OURSELVES out, calling our fellow Men out, learning new relationship skills, and sorting out our patterns. I’m pulling my head out of the sand and using my voice.
Who’s with me?