I’m Sorry… You Jerk

There are various ways we undo ourselves with our words. Said more accurately, there are ways that we reveal emotions within ourselves that we may not be fully aware of.

One instance of this is the non-apology. It is an apology that is immediately (though covertly) retracted. The syntax of the non-apology goes like this:

I’m sorry… you jerk.

Not an apology.

There are variations on this theme. One variation is the non-apology sandwich— an apology between two slices of insult.

You are such an ass. I’m sorry! Idiot.

Again, not an apology.

The syntax is simple enough; curiously, however, the fact of the non-apology is most often visible to all but the person who uttered it.

Sentiments un-done are examples of unconscious social masks. It is a lie we tell ourselves about ourselves because we would rather not face our real nature. The false self-story precipitating the non-apology may be I’m a nice person, and I apologized. The truth may be I am ashamed or simply I’m angry and unapolagetic. It is as if you had a bird cage on your head— you peering out between the bars— the cage clearly visible to everyone but you.

A key problem with unconscious social masks is that being unaware of our true motives makes us unable to respond in any other way. We are run by our own unconscious motives. They hold back any possible improvement, ensuring today’s shit will show up again tomorrow.

So what do we do about our unknown unknowns? We could develop habits to promote self-awareness; shining a light on ourselves makes it harder for our unconscious to hide. I play the Everything is About Me game. It goes like this: pretend that everything happening in your life is a metaphor for some aspect of yourself. Stiff knees? Where are you inflexible? Toilet clogged? Where do you have trouble eliminating shit in your life? When something bad happens, it becomes a token, a reminder to keep the habit going, and a jump-off point to begin self-examination; a daily oracle, if you will. And since nobody’s perfect and people are great pattern matchers, you can always find a metaphorical commonality between whatever crap is happening in your life and some aspect of yourself that could benefit from improvement.

Watch out, the ego knows when you are coming after it, and will rebel. If you find the thought of this game repellent, that is your ego trying to push away any challenges to its supremacy. A sure sign you need to play this game is if you hate the idea of it.

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