Let's Get Cracking

Over the years we have evolved in several sociological, psychological, and cultural aspects revolving around personal autonomy, self-care, communication, and criminal justice. Meanwhile we’re all trying to play catch up, be good and caring neighbors, members of the family, and still show up for ourselves. Sometimes when we’re struggling so hard to make sense of the world, what we’re experiencing, how we are triggered, or we need to let off steam and it comes out wrong or misunderstood.

one brown egg with exasperated expression sharpied on the surface appearing to be looking at a broken eggshellWhen we begin to crack under the pressure we sometimes lash out, use words that we don’t ordinarily use, speak in tones that are unlike our regular behavior, and we break our eggs, making everyone walk around on eggshells.

To help demonstrate my point about how to formally address, take on, implement, and express a real apology in four parts, I will be using a metaphor about cracking an egg and cracking under pressure. No actual eggs were harmed in writing this paper.

  1. Admit that we broke the egg.

    Essentially, we need to take accountability for what we did even if it was unintentional. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s a part of the human condition. It’s not something necessarily to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s something that we can all relate to. The only people who don’t make mistakes are major red flags. For example, if you encounter someone who “never” gets it wrong, it’s probably because they have accountability issues, or undiagnosed / untreated mental illness like the dark triad.

  2. Apologize for breaking the egg.

    Next, we need to clearly define what we’re apologizing for and our part in the breakdown. People really get confused on this stage because they think it’s a copy/paste from the first step. The first step is admitting we messed up, and that’s it. This step is about apologizing for the specific issue, your involvement, and the part you played. You need to be very specific about what it is you did, and if you don’t know, it’s on you to investigate that. Even if that means you need to talk to a professional to help figure out how you broke “the egg”.

  3. Ask how you can make it right.

    If we were working in hospitality we might ask, “Would you like another pair of eggs, made to your needs, or would you like me to give you space about what happened?” Not every situation is going to end like an old-fashioned sitcom in the 1980s, where everything is solved by the end of the day, no matter how complex the issue is. Not every victim of your behavior is going to have a suggestion like this, and so it might be on you to lay the groundwork. If they say, “There’s nothing you need to do besides this great apology,” you can still make a commitment to grow as a person. Which leads to step four.

  4. Work on your egg skills.

    In following the metaphor, we might learn how to make a proper over medium egg, or learn how to flip an omelet in the air instead of making a scrambled mess. Apologies are like this too. Perhaps you need to take a class on anger management or learn more about this behavior with your therapist, spiritual adviser, sponsor, proficient best friend, case manager, or whomever you look to for additional guidance. Always remembering to conceal the identity of who you’re talking about to shield them from additional pain, frustration, being accused of triangulation, and chronically resurrecting the issue with them. Also, and probably the most important part of this step is not to keep cracking the egg. Learn to not repeat the pattern of harmful behavior and hopefully grow from it.

If you follow these simple processes, you’ll find that your communication will improve, your relationships will go deeper, and perhaps the distance you once felt with someone you love will become closer. Feel free to reach out if you need help here at NW Treatment: Savannah@NwTreatment.com or call (503) 655 – 1029.

well-dressed professional person presenting as a woman sitting in an armchairMx. Savannah (she/they) is a PhD student with a master’s in psychology with a specialization in gender diversity. Their dissertation is about gender and sexual fluidity at NU and NCU. They work at NW Treatment, LLC in Portland as a counselor and they lead several process groups. They specialize in treating gender dysphoria, group therapy, complex trauma, dual diagnosis, human trafficking survivors, substance abuse / addiction, Queer issues, neurodiversity, domestic violence, relationship diversity, anger, and communication issues.