The offender takes absolute ownership for the hurt or transgression (“I did ____ to you”)
The offender has sincere empathy for the offended party (“I see how it has impacted you”)
The offender has insight about their actions or is seeking insight (“ I understand why I did it” [no excuses!])
With insight, the offender will have a goal to change the behavior so as to not repeat it (“Being open with you about my change is important to me”
The process of healing can only move forward when the offender takes these four pro-active steps. Then the offended party can build and maintain trust with you.
If you sincerely follow the four pro-active steps, you’ll find that you’ve apologized fully, and the words, “I’m sorry…” may not be required.
However, very serious transgressions to require a deep sincere apology, but we’ll talk more about that in a later section.
To hear more about this subject, pick up our DVD and listen to Disc ___, part ___
And, stop apologizing - just don’t do it anymore.
Step Two - Be Sincere, Show Empathy And Understanding For Your Partner
The key question for Mike is, “if you were in Jessica’s shoes right now, how would you feel?”
Jessica will be deeply experiencing a myriad of feelings and judgments. These feelings will include anger, sadness, embarrassment, humiliation, judgment of Mike, judgment of herself (“how could you have done this to me and us?”, “what am I going to do now?”).
The two biggest emotions attached to Jessica’s trust violation are hurt and betrayal.
Mike has to be able to hear all the feelings and judgments Jessica is going through. Mike cannot hear all of this, however, if he caught up in his own feelings of guilt and shame while he’s trying to listen to Jessica.
At this point, Mike needs to be present for Jessica. He needs to sincerely hear and validate all of Jessica’s feelings with total understanding
How? Mike, through being very present and sincere hearing has to validate all of Jessica’s feelings with total understanding.
Mike has to take those feelings of guilt and shame and set them aside to work on later (see step three). Put those feelings elsewhere, dude, this is not about your feelings, it’s about what she’s going through, so be perfectly present for Jessica.
(A little insight: empathy comes from knowing your own feelings. Many men are disconnected from their feelings and typically resort to lots of apologies to their partner at this step.
I strongly urge that you don’t get caught up in your own guilt and shame: your apologies don’t cut it.)
More on: Male Emotional Disconnect - See Addendum
Addendum - How Men Get Disconnected From Their Feelings or The Socialization Of Men
Socialization Of Men
By Tom Burke, MFT
. See if any of these sound familiar: