Tag Archives: owning the problem

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