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Saying sorry: How pride can stop you from righting your wrongs

There was a period of time where, with one of the closest people to me, I refused to let go of pride in order to properly say “sorry” to her. But it wasn’t just me — my friend didn’t want to talk to me at all, just as I didn’t want to deal with the issue that was separating us like an invisible rift. 

It was like “The Zax” by Dr. Seuss, one of his side stories where the two characters are at a standstill, arms crossed, waiting an eternity for the other to make the first move out of the other’s way. It was no surprise that we childishly reacted in the same manner: We were so alike that our emotions were always in sync, whether it was for a good, bad or just plain stupid reason. 

Eventually, even I got tired from the constant waiting and giving them the silent treatment, as if I didn’t care about the tension I had to constantly deal with. I asked another close friend what I should do to get out of this troublesome issue, but directly apologizing to the other person wasn’t going to be the solution. 

I was tired of dealing with the unspoken conflict, but it hadn’t meant that my sense of justice had shifted directions. In fact, the more time went on, the more I grasped onto my selfishness to keep myself from losing my self-respect and emotionally falling apart.

“I am going to sound like a hypocrite,'' he said to me, with a hint of hesitation, as if he already knew how I was going to respond to his advice. He ended up telling me that “pride is useless.” His words were a blow against my self-righteous reality. 

Defensively, I immediately disagreed with the latter, believing that my pride was justified as a defense against my own weak, emotional will. After all, if I was the only person who agreed with myself, how would I continue to go on without any support, other than my ego?

Essentially, the ego is a multi-layered barrier that covers over the most sensitive emotions, such as guilt, fear and shame. It's also the hardest to break through with reason alone. We agree that many aspects of our world can be rationalized, but there still is a part of us where we feel the world is completely backward, and we are the ones who are standing upright in contrast with everyone else. 

If others wouldn’t serve the justice I deserved, then I would take it for myself, as the single victim in this world — that was the extreme mindset I was in when I refused to feel remorse.

But regardless of who was correct, I learned that arguments aren’t always the simple matter of being right or wrong. Much of the justification of our feelings is a matter of perspective. The conflict comes from the disregard in other viewpoints, or just the fact that people cannot understand anyone’s feelings as much as they understand their own. 

Time is the best conduit for guilt and regret. After a while, the initiative to apologize is something that suddenly pops into your head, as it did to me. I knew that I couldn’t ignore this person forever — it would be impossible, given the amount of time we were forced to share. 

So, I apologized. While it was painful for me and my pride, my friend and I were able to come to a better understanding of each other, so that our relationship can be more stable in the future.

I still couldn’t help but wonder, even if apologizing was for the sake of our relationship, was my intense resentment and frustration truly a waste of energy? This was probably my ego acting up again. Nevertheless, I believe that some of those feelings can be valid, depending on the situation.

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