Apologizing- How to promote healing and forgiveness

Every single one of us have been deeply hurt by another person and have not received an apology when one was due. Some may have even received an apology, but it it was insincere. The power of a genuine apology that is offered and accepted is one of the most heartfelt human interactions one can experience. Just one genuine apology can restore broken relationships, promote healing, and bring about forgiveness.

A genuine apology takes empathy- insight on how your behavior impacts others by putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what they’re feeling. Those who have the ability to empathize with others will feel guilt or regret that their behavior has caused someone emotional pain, and they’ll want to do anything they can to end the pain they have caused. When someone truly apologizes for diminishing someone else, they are humbling themselves by admitting fault, insensitivity, shame, mistakes, or wrong doing. Apologizing is an exchange of feelings; it takes feelings of shame, pain, or humiliation from the offended and places it on the offender. This is what makes genuine apologies so healing and powerful because this exchange promotes forgiveness.

For an apology to be successful, the hurtful behavior needs to be specified otherwise it will be meaningless to the offended. Then the offender must acknowledge the impact it had on the other person and provide an explanation. If you have the courage to approach an offender honestly and tell them they’ve hurt you and the offender chooses to diminish you, attack you, or act as if processing the offense is a waste of energy, setting boundaries with that person and distancing yourself would be a wise thing to do. We all desire to have close relationships with those who care about us and how they make us feel. Whenever you are feeling hurt or angry due to another person’s behavior and they refuse a sincere apology, it’s important to remember that apologizing does not exhibit weakness, it exhibits strength. It takes a lot of character, empathy, and security within oneself to genuinely apologize.

Apologizing is something many people teach their children, but still struggle with themselves…why? It could be a multitude of reasons. For example: pride, egocentricity, or lack of empathy. Some do not have the character or security within themselves to admit fault, weakness, or failure. Many people who do not apologize fear of feeling shame, humiliation, or weakness. Some are self centered, narcissistic, or unable to empathize or see past themselves. Others may not even be aware the impact their behavior has on others. Regardless the reason, those who do not apologize can cause strained relationships, grudges, or vengeance-seeking behavior.

There will always be situations where we may never hear an apology. It’s important not to ruminate on what the offender has done, forgive them and move on. Like stated earlier, forgiveness is for YOU, not for the offender. They are off living their lives and you’re the one still stuck in pain. I know saying “forgive and let go” is easier said that done. Forgiving is a decision we have to be willing to make. We have to get past our negative feelings of offense and stop ruminating in the past. The more you talk about the offense, the more bitterness and resentment you will harbor. This is a miserable way to live. We can choose to dwell in the past or we can choose to remain positive by focusing on ourselves, our success, and our blessings. I know being diminished or wronged can hurt our self-concept, but we don’t have to let it. It’s okay to hurt and process what happened but then, it’s time to move on. We should not perceive ourselves the way others do, it’s about loving ourselves and being secure in who we are.


Negative Feedback vs. Criticism

If you search for a synonym for feedback in a thesaurus, one of the equivalent terms that comes up is criticism. While these may seem like umbrella terms, negative feedback and criticism are executed and impact others in different ways. An example is how there is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. I encourage my readers to keep an open mind and try to be receptive to what makes negative feedback and criticism different.

Negative feedback involves providing evidence, concrete information, and education regarding the results of a specific behavior to address a shortcoming. It educates, describes, or informs rather than advise, command, or attack. Negative feedback opens a doorway for discussion on the benefits of changing an undesired behavior and helps the person to become more open and receptive to changing their behavior. On the other hand, criticism involves judgement, fault-finding, and generalizing. Criticism often comes off as condescending, judgmental, or demeaning. When someone is criticized, they can feel judged, inferior, threatened, intimidated, or under attack. Criticism usually involves giving advice or commands and causes the recipient to become defensive. Those who feel defensive will tune out, refute, or not respect anything being said.

Here are some examples that might be used in a call center:

CriticismNegative Feedback
“You really need to work on not saying “um” and “uh” too much in your calls.” “I noticed “um and “uh” was frequently said throughout the call. When we say “um” and “uh” frequently in a call, the client may sense the listener is nervous or uncertain of what to say and that could impact the intervention.”
“It might be worth your while to look over this paperwork for spelling errors.” “If the paperwork isn’t checked for typos or spelling errors, it can be difficult to read. Also, when your paperwork is submitted, it is a reflection of you and the department as a whole. “
“Wow, that looks awful! Re-do it!” “Since we’re presenting these, it’s important they look neat because it’s a reflection of you and your work. I encourage you to spend more time on this and put forth more effort.”
“We need to go over policy again, you can’t do that.”“It’s important that we fully understand policy because it’s set in stone to protect you and provide optimal service to our clients “

When you look at the examples given above, it’s evident that providing negative feedback takes effort. It takes empathy, maturity, and character to sit down and think before you speak. Those who are used to being blunt or critical, it’s going to take time, thought, and self- reflection to change your own behavior. This is a change you have to be willing to make for your own personal growth. Also, it’s not all about what is said, it’s how it’s said as well. It’s important to be self-aware. Someone can say all the right things but it’s still criticism if it’s said in a condescending or judgmental tone.

Although negative feedback is more delicate and explanatory than criticism, it’s still difficult to hear. It would be naive to believe that self-reflection and change is easy. It takes a lot of character and maturity to take a step back and self-reflect. It’s essential to set your pride aside, humble yourself, and realize you may not be doing as well as you thought you were. Someone who refutes any type of self-reflection or change has stunted their personal growth and will become stagnant. This is why knowing the difference between negative feedback and criticism is essential. If someone truly desires to help others improve their performance and personal growth; they will want to increase the chances of that person being open to feedback and changing their behavior.

I hope my readers are like me and do not want to make change and self- reflection more painful than it already is. We all want to perform well. If you truly care about how you make others feel and want to help promote personal or professional growth in another person, I would encourage using negative feedback. It optimizes the chances of your viewpoints, frustrations, or instructions to be heard… Not just to help them, but to help you as well.


Covert Bullying in the Work Place

Growing up I dealt with my share of malicious bullying. Every single day I remember waking up and being absolutely terrified to go to school. I was followed, targeted, slapped, spit on, pelted with basketballs, stolen from, and called names that still haunt me today. I can still feel the debilitating anxiety I felt on a daily basis as I walked from one class to another. With God’s help I was able to persevere. I was the only child in the middle school with a 4.0 and I was chosen for the Principal’s award; where one child is picked from the whole middle school due to outstanding character and grades. As a child, the one thing I found hope in was I thought there would be no more bullying in adulthood. I thought that was a time in my past I was able to overcome, heal from, and forget forever. I was wrong; bullies have to grow up too.

I found that even in adulthood there are cliques and bullying. However, I found the bullying is not as overt as it was in middle school. Bullies in adulthood become strategic to preserve their reputation or image by targeting their victims covertly. When I say “covert”, that means bystander’s can easily excuse and dismiss the bully’s behavior as something permissible. This can make the victim feel helpless, alone, or insane. If you’re feeling hurt and targeted by your coworkers, and your peers or superiors are rationalizing or excusing the bully’s behavior, chances are that you’re being covertly bullied.

Many people believe that those who are unpopular are the ones who get bullied. In my experience, that is not the case. Don’t get me wrong; there are shallow, immature bullies out there that prey on their coworker’s weight, appearance, clothing, etc… However, most of the time, it’s someone who is actually popular. Someone who has a distinguished reputation and receives recognition and adulation from other coworkers or their superiors.

Covert bullies feel threatened and insecure and will do anything they can to undermine or discredit their target to try to make them doubt their capabilities and sense of reality. Examples of this would be:

  • Excessive fault-finding
  • Micro-managing/nitpicking
  • Undermining your success
  • Gaslighting- psychological manipulation in order to make the target question the truth and their sanity
  • Purposely criticizing your work performance, even when it’s not admissible
  • Dismissing or challenging your viewpoint or judgement
  • Leaving you out of conversations or work activities
  • Presenting a mistake that you’ve made in front of everyone at a department meeting instead of consulting you in person. For example; “Guys please make sure we always remember to take the trash out on Monday’s” and you were the only one that happened to forget to take out the trash last week.
  • Exaggerating the mistakes you’ve made
  • Being passive aggressive (purposely arriving late, neglecting to finish tasks, giving the silent treatment)

These behaviors can leave the target feeling demeaned, insecure, harassed, or as if they just can’t do anything right. This is how covert bullies want you to feel. If you are experiencing covert bullying in your workplace, the first option is going to your superiors. If your superiors fall for the bully’s trap and dismiss or excuse their behavior, then removing yourself from that toxic work environment would be the best thing to do. However, not everyone can just pick up and leave their job. We all have families and responsibilities, and it can be difficult to just quit and leave. If you’re like me and are forced to stay in a toxic workplace, ignoring the bully’s behavior would be the the optimal approach. Acting like it does not phase you (even though it’s psychologically damaging) will eventually cause the bully to lose interest and move on. Avoid giving them the reaction they want (seeing you angry, upset, hurt, etc…). Keeping your distance and setting major boundaries would be a wise thing to do. I would usually encourage direct communication, but the covert bully will always be dishonest by defending, disguising, or covering up their behavior with an excuse or a dishonest justification. Some people even pretend to not remember a situation or behavior when confronted. Covert bully’s are cowards and will always avoid any direct communication to resolve an issue. I would strongly encourage not stooping down to their level and targeting back because then it will just turn into a pissing contest (trust me, I’ve done this). I had to take a step back and recognize that was not who I was and engaging in that behavior makes you just as bad as your bully.

I do want to remind my readers that most of the time, hurtful behavior is unintentional. Most people don’t realize how their behavior is impacting others. Covert bullying is such a tricky and complex issue to understand; but that doesn’t mean it does not exist. There are even people who experience covert bullying but choose to dismiss or excuse the behavior to escape or avoid what may be a painful reality. We never 100% know some’s true intentions but you can be smart enough to see the signs of bad intentions. If you feel bullied or targeted, your feelings are valid and real. I know there are people out there that have the sensitivity, wisdom, and discernment to know if a behavior is intentional or unintentional; pay attention to the signs and listen to your gut. Those who do not have that discernment might not identify with this post, but you might know someone who is going through this. If you want to help others, I’d encourage taking initiative, standing up for the person being targeted, report it, and make sure those people’s voices are heard. Even though some bystanders can be just as bad as the bully, it is up to us to see what is going on and choose to do the right thing. For those who have endured covert bullying, I hope this helped you. You are not alone.


Social Media- What makes it toxic

The photo above was taken by my husband while we were on one of the beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico. We were visiting his family at the time and I think anyone would take a look at this photo and long to be on the beach. Some may have felt excitement and happy for me while others, may have felt jealousy and resentment for not having the ability to go on vacation. This is one thing that’s toxic about social media; no matter what source. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. the pictures that we take, including selfies, pictures of vacation, a new outfit, or an expensive dinner date; they’re just a snapshot of a brief moment and while some may be extravagant and beautiful, they’re unrealistic. We post on social media what we want others to see. Above, you see a beautiful photo of me on the beach but what you don’t see are the tears shed on that same beach due to feelings of judgement and insecurity. You don’t see that this photo was taken on May, 13th 2016, the anniversary date of my mother’s death. I posted beautiful photos during that whole vacation on different social media sources and I was having the worst time of my life.

Whether we like it or not, everything we post on social media is for the attention of others. “Look at me”; “look what I’m doing”, “look how pretty I am”, “look how cute my outfit is”, “look how great my relationship is”, “tell me how bad you feel for me”,” look how talented I am”, “look at the meme I found”, or “tell me how great my kids are.” It’s all to receive likes, friends, or followers. However, you don’t see the arguments or tears during someone’s family vacation, you don’t see the hours of time put into makeup for “that perfect selfie.” People don’t show you the amount of debt they’re in, the hurt they’re feeling, or the battles they’re fighting.

When we post on social media, a lot of people don’t realize how their posts impact others. While you post about having fun at a Christmas or New Years Eve party with all your friends and family, someone else might be spending it alone. While you post pictures of your newborn baby, another woman may be struggling with infertility. Some post vacation photos or pictures of their new Apple watch, while another follower or friend can barely afford gas to get to work. Some people crave that attention or envy from others, but if my readers are anything like me, they wouldn’t want anyone to feel irrelevant or inferior.

Social media sources can damage self-esteem and self worth especially for those who are going through a difficult time. When you’re struggling with depression, grief, insecurity, low self-esteem, financial issues, etc. it can be difficult if every time you log onto a social media source and you get bombarded with the best moments in everyone’s lives. It can make anyone feel inferior and discouraged. This is especially for media sources that involve “followers” like Instagram or Twitter. The term “follower” just sounds degrading. People who have less followers than someone else may leave them feeling inferior or irrelevant. Sometimes there are situations where someone follows someone else expecting that person to reciprocate and they don’t. There are other times when someone does follow back but only for one sided reasons; to get more attention, likes, and to overall boost their fragile self-esteem. People like this usually avoid liking other posts or neglect replying back to comments. It’s become an “I’m better than you” mentality. When in reality, it’s due to extreme insecurity and an inflated self- esteem. (Inflated self-esteem for those who aren’t in this field, is a feeling of superiority that tends to make a person believe that they’re better than others.) Anyone who feels the need to step on someone else to feel on top, are extremely insecure.

There are people that post about others on Facebook or you get “sub-tweeting” on Twitter. On these social media forms, it can be easy to post a meme that you see or create a vague status/tweet that is targeted towards one of your friends or family members. It’s important if someone has an issue with another person, not to post about them on social media, give them them the silent treatment, or talk about them behind their back. That’s cowardly, immature, and hurtful. Using direct communication is a sign of someone’s maturity and character. If the person you have an issue with is not mature enough for direct communication and is too toxic, distancing or removing yourself from their social media would be a wise thing to do. It’s also important not to assume that something that is posted on social media is about you. If you’re feeling attacked by someone’s post, it’s important to personally consult them to discuss if there’s an issue. Assuming is ignorant, unwise, and creates unnecessary issues or hurt feelings.

All media forms are full of trolls, insecure people, controversial posts, arguments, and drama. These are some examples of the toxicity I see on media sources. Social media can be a great way to keep in contact with family and friends who live in different countries or states, help promote a business, or blog (like this one). However, most media sources sell our data and make money off of us while we argue, hate, and envy one another. It’s not worth it. I hope this post gives insight to others and if someone reading this right now is feeling jealous, inferior, or irrelevant to other people’s lives, I hope you remember everything is for the attention of others and posts are snapshots of what people want others to see rather than the reality they’re truly living. We’re all human and have our own struggles and pain. Each and every one of us are relevant, have our own talents, dreams, and goals. It’s important not to compare yourself to others because we are all equally blessed, just in different areas. If you find a social media source is too toxic for you, I would encourage removing yourself, focusing on yourself and your own life goals.


Are you a bad listener?

Have you ever been talking to a friend or family member about something that is serious or important to you and they immediately change the subject, interrupt, or start talking about themselves? These are a few habits of a bad listener. Bad listening can leave the people you love or care about feeling unimportant or disregarded. I struggled and fought against habits of bad listening. I didn’t even realize I was a bad listener until I was impacted by one myself. Listening to other people and whatever is plaguing their minds is one of my passions. I want anyone who confides in me to feel heard and understood. However, there are a few habits I had to kick to become a better support for others. There are many people who have bad listening habits but think they are excellent listeners when it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anyone can be a bad listener. I’ve met some of the most loving, kind-hearted people who still participated in bad listening habits; who truly cared but didn’t realize that they weren’t listening. Listed below are a few habits that exhibit bad listening. For those who have been impacted by a bad listener, I’ve listed some options for you below as well.

  • Interrupting/ finishing sentences
  • Changing the subject
  • Waiting impatiently for their chance to speak
  • Getting stuck in their head and thoughts
  • “Faking” attention
  • Tolerating or making distractions

Bad listening can be due to a couple of things like lack of respect for the speaker, ignorance on how to be socially polite, being consumed in own thoughts, or hearing the superficial words of the speaker but not internalizing the true meaning of what is being said. Sometimes the subject matter is too deep or serious and the person changes the subject to something more pleasant. Sometimes the person you are speaking to is self-absorbed in whatever they’re going through or whatever is on their mind; we all have that one friend who always likes to talk about themselves. However, from most encounters I’ve had, bad listening habits are due to a lack of interest or empathy.

No matter the reason, I learned not to confide in people who have bad listening habits. I distance myself and interact with those people in activities that don’t involve much conversation like: go to a museum, a concert, or a movie. If you find someone is not listening to you or you can’t confide in them during difficult times, I would keep their relationship as superficial as their listening skills. They don’t have to be your best friend, they can just be a party friend or hang out buddy. If it’s someone close to you like a sibling, spouse, or someone important that you want a close relationship with, I would encourage direct communication if you want a stronger, deeper, and happier relationship.


Unnecessary or Undeserved Guilt

I remember as a child sitting down with my mother as she counted out her pills for the week. She took over 27 pills a day. Throughout my whole life, my mother struggled with constant health issues including gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, atrial fibrillation, multiple strokes, infections, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, brain cancer, and the list goes on. Throughout all the pain and suffering my mother endured, she always had a beautiful attitude and a positive outlook on life. She dreamed, set goals, and never once complained.

My mother and I had an inseparable bond. I could tell her anything and she never once judged me. She always beamed with pride no matter what I did or the mistakes I made. My mother gave me her full trust and allowed my sister and I to be on a loose leash to make our own decisions and own mistakes. When I disobeyed her, I knew I could always run back into her loving arms. She not once yelled at me, criticized me, or demeaned me if I strayed from the path she set before me. Her disappointment in me was enough. No words will ever describe the special bond or love we had for each other.

I would always feel a pit of dread drop into my stomach when I stopped doing homework, looked outside my bedroom window upstairs, and saw the red flashing lights of an ambulance. No words can describe the amount of pain and suffering my mother went through during her life. My mother practically lived in the hospital. A year after being able to buy her own home, we had to move in with my grandma because she couldn’t walk up or down the steps. My mother slept on an uncomfortable couch in the living room in my grandma’s house where she was close to the bathroom.

I remember one summer night, everyone was outside around the campfire talking, toasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire and my mother was inside on the couch, laying in the dark with the TV and lights off. She was in a lot of pain and was trying to sleep. I remember going inside and sitting next to her. I can still hear the laughter outside and the smell of charcoal. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t eat or enjoy anything knowing my mother was inside suffering alone. I sat next to her in the darkness and cried. There were many holidays like this (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day) where there was a ton of food, desserts, and family laughing in the background and I would always look over to see my mother laying on the couch, sick, in pain, and unable to eat. Something would consume me where I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t enjoy my food and I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t enjoy hanging out with friends knowing my mother was home in pain. This thing that consumed me, I realized was immense guilt. I couldn’t enjoy my life knowing my mother was in constant suffering. There was nothing I could say or do. I knew it wasn’t my fault. It was unnecessary and undeserved, but the emotional pain of seeing the one person you love the most, suffering so badly was a deep pain I could never describe.

My mother was diagnosed with gestational diabetes that caused irreversible damage to the nerves in her feet. Her little feet would go back and forth from the feeling of burning hot or burning cold needle pins puncturing the bottom of her feet. My mother could walk, but not far due to the pain. At one point between constant hospital visits, she was diagnosed with Kidney cancer for the first time. The cancer was fully encased and removed where she was able to go into full remission. Even after that, she still was in and out of the hospital. My mother endured multiple smaller strokes at one point after this and she could no longer walk. She was sent to a nursing home for rehabilitation to be able to walk again. My mother spent months in the nursing home, spending Thanksgiving and Christmas in there. She had multiple major surgeries due to kidney and esophageal cancer. Half of her stomach and esophagus were removed and brought all the way up to her chest causing severe acid reflex and inability to eat anything other than potatoes and bread. Any other foods would cause severe nausea. I would wake up in the middle of the night at times and hear her dry heaving because there nothing left in her stomach. The last years of her life, my mother was diagnosed with a re-occurrence of esophageal cancer and brain cancer. Having gone through three different cancers and a re-occurrence, my mother endured multiple vigorous chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I’ve never seen anyone in so much suffering in my life. Anytime she felt any improvement in her pain, I would see her sitting up on the couch laughing with her bald head and scarf. I remember that last treatment my mother received was harsh chemotherapy and a zap of radiation on her brain. Still, the cancer metastasized throughout her whole body and on May 13th, 2015, my mother lost her fight.

My mother was such a special person and she did not deserve to live in the pain she suffered constantly. The guilt that consumed me on a daily basis was because I knew she didn’t deserve a life like that. My mother always loved and trusted God and loved her daughters. The worst part as a child, seeing your mother go through so much pain, is that there is nothing you can do other than cherish the time you have with her. Nurses would sneak around her hospital room and stare at my sister and I sitting on her hospital bed, talking to her like a best friend. She was my absolute best friend.

I tell this story because there are so many people that live with undeserved or unnecessary guilt. I want to tell you, feeling this way is absolutely normal. Anybody who sees someone they love hurting can be consumed by guilt. What you’re feeling is normal, and the guilt you’re feeling now is proof of your deep love and care for that person. I want to reassure you that the intensity of the guilt you feel will lessen over time with proper self care.


Being a better support for those who are hurting

Something I see from family, significant others, friends, or co-workers, is when they see someone they care about expressing negative emotion, the first thing I hear is, “don’t be upset”, “don’t be stressed”, “don’t cry”, or “stop it, crying ain’t big hoop energy!” Another thing I see is advise giving. “You need to do this”, “stop caring about what others think”, “You should…”, or “you shouldn’t…”

The problem with making statements like this is that they bring more harm than good and that is because feelings are valid. When someone is told to “stop” or “don’t” regarding feeling a certain way, it can intensify the hurt or anger that is already there and leaves the person feeling alone. The fact of the matter is, it’s okay to feel negative emotion. Feeling negative emotion is a normal, human reaction. It is okay to feel stressed, angry, depressed, or even suicidal. It’s acting on those negative emotions or thoughts that are wrong. This would include verbal or physical abuse, assault, murder, or completing suicide.

Another problem I see is advise giving. This can make the person in distress feel inferior, demeaned, or closed off. The problem with giving advise is, the one thing that may have worked for you, may not work for them. There is always a chance that the advise given may actually help however, I would not want to be in that person’s shoes if their advice did not help. What I’m getting at is, no one knows their situation better than themselves. When you start giving advice, it puts you up on a pedestal and them below you, making you the expert on their problems. Instead, the optimal approach is being a team with the person in pain. Not just supporting them but putting the work on them. Allowing them a chance to decide what would be the best option for improving their situation.

  1. When someone is feeling upset, it’s important to validate the way they’re feeling. Here are some different ways you can help support someone you love when they are hurting:
    • Validation– This is to recognize someone’s feelings and acknowledging them as important.
    • Normalizing– Sharing that what they are feeling is normal. That anyone in their situation would feel angry, stressed, demeaned, etc. Normalizing helps let the person know they are not alone and that others have gone through the same experience.
    • Label Feelings– Sometimes people have a hard time pin pointing what they’re feeling and may need help after telling their story. For example: “It sounds like your feeling guilty.”
    • Allow them to cry– Crying is a healthy release of those negative emotions. When you tell someone to stop crying, you’re blocking this healthy release and forcing them to bottle feelings up. Also, if someone cries in front of you, they are in such a vulnerable and delicate state. It’s important to allow this release of emotions and comfort them when they’re ready. Bottling emotions up can cause chronic illness later in life and those emotions will still end up coming out in other ways.
  2. When coming up with a solution to help improve someone’s situation, here are some questions you can ask to remain their equal, and allow them to come up with their own options that can help:
    • “What have you done that’s helped in the past?’
    • “What would you like to see happen?”
    • “What can you do to help improve your situation?”

Seeing someone in any type of pain can be devastating and painful for the person observing as well, especially if it’s a loved one. Some feel deeply and don’t have the capacity or patience to deal with someone else’s pain due the their own unresolved pain or emotional unavailability. I’ll talk about this in another post, but if you feel compelled to force your own agenda on someone else or don’t have the capacity to allow them to hurt, I would encourage you to give that person space. When someone is hurting, it’s important to focus on them and not yourself. In the end, we want others who are in pain to feel supported and understood.