Fourth Breath of Apology ~ Ownership

If you’ve just stumbled upon this post, it will make more sense if you read the summary below, and then Breath 1, Breath 2 and Breath 3.

If you’ve read all this, skip ahead to the crazy duck below.


When someone you love does something that hurts you emotionally, it’s quite common to find yourself caught between two opposing desires:

  • Revenge – make ‘em pay for your hurt
  • Forgive – and forget as quickly as possible to remove the pain.

Neither is great.

If you practice revenge you reinforce your own pain since (think about this) emotional pain arises from our story about an event – not the event itself.

If you rush to forgive, forget and avoid having an honest conversation with yourself and whoever hurt you, you practice being a coward in the face of your true experience.

A robust reconciliation, based upon an artful apology, avoids both these problems. In my work I’ve found there are five stages or “breaths” you need to take. Why “breaths”?

  1. When we are stressed it really helps to breathe: Keep breathing!
  2. There are in-breaths and out-breaths.  To stay alive, you need both.  A reconciliation between 2 people that avoids revenge or victim-hood needs both these perspectives.

Breath 4  ~  OWNERSHIP 

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 8.25.11 AM


Accept responsibility for the parts you feel you can genuinely accept responsibility for. This empowers you to see how you could have done things differently.

Not everything is 100% within our control so the trick here is to take ownership of what is. Own up to the parts you can own up to.  You don’t have to lie down and be a whipping boy however. If there are things beyond your control, or actually more within your accuser’s control, don’t take those on.

Fiona, I totally see how I blew it with the introductions. Truth was I blew it even more by not remember those guys names. I could have just spoken up and said ‘Hey – I’d like you to meet my wife” and hoped they’d have offered their names! And I did get way too interested in the things Sonia had to say – that woman you spoke of. She’s from corporate so I was being a bit of a brown-noser I know. I can see how that must have looked to you.”


Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 8.23.24 AMACCUSER  

Listen as your partner accepts responsibility.

You’ll know if this is genuine. You may find he or she is not taking responsibility for absolutely everything.  This is actually good. If you choose to notice what items were left of the table, you could – under calmer conditions – explore the extent to which you could have done something to help yourself under those circumstances. Own your piece.

Well thanks. I know I blame you for the two bores I sat between too – but I see I could have asked them about their kids and maybe sparked some sort of conversation I was interested in. Hey – I possibly could have asked to swap seats with someone after coffee too.”

This is Part 4 of 5.

Check back tomorrow for Fifth Breath of Apology ~ FORGIVENESS

6 thoughts on “Fourth Breath of Apology ~ Ownership

  1. animatingyourlife

    This is wonderful stuff. Can be a challenge sometimes sorting out my stuff from the stuff that’s not mine, but I find that just being aware is so much stronger and more healing than pushing all the blame onto someone else or taking it all myself. Thanks for posting.

    1. gemmautting Post author

      Hi Robert,
      Thank you so much for checking in. There’s so much overlap in what we do — I love this from your About Robert post: “It’s all about becoming the people we are meant to be. Gently but continually stretching our comfort zones and finding our strengths and getting inner genius out.”
      And this from your post on 3 Mes: “EVERYTHING we do is filtered through how we see the world. No two people are the same and no two perspectives are the same, only you can create the art that’s inside you, you – and your contributions – are irreplaceable.”
      Using art gets this point out so immediately. The repercussions of this truth are what make these conversational dances on the edge of our grit all the more interesting. I appreciate not everyone will want to take this more nuanced approach so it’s all the more heartening when I discover someone like you out there. Cheers! Gemma

      1. animatingyourlife

        Thank you for your kind words. I started this journey rather reluctantly about 30 years ago. It took me years to realize I had been on the journey the entire time, I’m just more conscious of it and take ownership of it. It’s a wonderful life and I LOVE finding people who are moving through it with integrity, heart, humour and awareness. So glad to have connected with you.

  2. gemmautting Post author

    Robert – I’d love to follow your blog but (at the risk of seeming a total dolt) I’m not finding the “sign up” button! Can you help me out here?

  3. Pingback: Fifth Breath of Apology ~ Forgiveness | Gemma Utting ~ Relationship Therapy

  4. Pingback: Five Conversations | Gemma Utting MA, CLC ~ A Skilled, Experienced Therapist & Coach

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