Saving face

Posted on: 26/01/2011

There’s something in us – well, me at least – that harbours a strong, almost animal instinct to preserve our pride.  I read a book about it once; a Michael Crichton novel about Japanese corporate types who go to extreme lengths to save face.

In my teenage days, I was too scared to admit I was wrong to my peers.   I was too much of a coward to say sorry even when I knew I should.   One time, it was hours and hours before I could work up the courage to apologise.

For accidentally stepping on a tube of moisturiser.

Well, quite.  But, having not had the instinct to apologise in the first place, my pride prevented me from apologising – particularly when the other girls in the room started telling me to.  I eventually got out a muttered apology, but not before drowning in a heap of verbal abuse, and quite right too.

I suppose the adult equivalent, if there’s any real difference, is where you know you’ve made a mistake.  You feel backed into a corner, and you instinctively lash out rather than let your pride take a knock. Somehow we feel we have to be aggressive instead of passive, and defensive rather than embracing.    This can have very unpleasant consequences if we refuse to back down in this grown-up world. I was reminded of this today.

But that moisturiser incident stuck with me.  I realised I couldn’t go through life denying responsibility for my mistakes, and still like myself.

It took a long time to try and reverse the instinct, and I know I’m still not perfect, but these days I’m much better at apologising.

And you know what?  I sleep much better at night.

Amazing what a tube of moisturiser can do.


These days the moisturiser is smaller (and nicer)


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