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Why should I apologize

Published: 2023-09-04
Updated: 2023-09-04

I found myself wondering why do we (mainly I) apologize for something, and moreover why should we apologize for something.

The Impetus

The other morning on the way to work I accidentally cut someone off as I pulled onto a road. As I was clearly being negligent in my driving, and knowing how infuriating something like that can be - when we came to a stop sign a couple of hundred yards up I popped out to quickly apologize.

I quickly opened my door and looked back at the driver behind me. I then made the universal “my bad” signal by tapping my chest and said ”I am so sorry”. I even managed to have a friendly smile on my face.

woman saying My Bad while driving a car

The guy was not happy! He gave me a mean look and pointed forward towards my vehicle to say “get back in your vehicle and get out of my way!“. I got back in my vehicle, feeling slighting humiliated and drove off - probably a bit faster than I would have normally. As I drove I thought about what a jerk that guy was! How dare he not immediately accept my apology? Then I started thinking …

The Question

Why was I angry?

At the core of it - I was angry because the other persons response did not meet with my preset expectation of what it should have been. How dare that guy not just absolve me of my guilt, tell me what a good person I am, and allow me to drive off feeling great about myself?? 😡

Let’s break this sequence of events down here shall we?

  1. I pull into the roadway and cut someone off
  2. I then delay their travels so that I can apologize and I can feel better
  3. I get angry when the response isn't what I expected

I and starting to think I am the cause of my anger here....

I was angry when his response didn’t meet with my expectations… how was he supposed to know what I expected?

After coming to this conclusion I felt … well I felt silly to be honest. But then I asked “Why do I apologize?” Do I apologize to help alleviate some level of pain (or annoyance in the case) I have caused someone else? Or do I apologize to make myself feel better? I think I know what the answer should be; but I think I also know what the answer is in many cases.

Does the intent matter

I think it clearly does. In this case I allowed anger into my day 100% because of a situation I caused and then I reacted too.

The Answer

I was angry because, in essence, I didn’t get what I wanted. I was angry because of my emotional immaturity.

So what’s the fix?

I don’t have a fix … I can, and will, try to be more mindful of why I feel the way I do, and try to be cognizant of the cause of those feelings (and when how much of that cause is me). That is about all I can do for now.