Apologize Because You Mean It
In order to earn forgiveness, we must first acknowledge our wrongs.
Making an apology carries more weight than simply saying “sorry.” To be apologetic is a thoughtful decision that shows you understand you were wrong and that someone was hurt or offended by your words or actions.
An apology should not be selfish. Firstly, it is not appropriate to apologize by placing the blame elsewhere. Statements like “I am sorry you feel hurt,” or “I am sorry you feel offended” are insults. You place the blame on the victim of your shenanigans and invalidate their feelings. Instead, it is more appropriate to make direct statements: “I am sorry I hurt your feelings by …” or “I am sorry I offended you when I…” By expressing that you understand the other person’s feelings are legitimate and you have reflected on why you should apologize, it shows remorse.
Remorse and sincerity go a long way in an apology. An apology is just as much about the past as it is about the future. I touched a bit on how an apology shows remorse for the past. Now, let’s talk about what an apology means for the future.
If you hope to make amends, you must consider the other person’s personality and the nature of your relationship. People that are highly dependent on relationships may be more willing to accept your apology. Others, who may still value relationships but are more independent and have a higher sense of responsibility ,will be slower at accepting an apology. Moreover, some people that fall in the latter category may choose to accept your apology, but break off any ties with you.
Remember when I said “an apology should not be selfish?”
Well, apologizing isn’t a means to free yourself of guilt. You should do it because it is the right thing to do to show that you understand the wrong thing(s) you did. Don’t expect forgiveness or that things will “go back to how they were.”
A sincere apology prepares you for the possibility that the person you hurt might not forgive you or may forgive you, but choose to break off ties with you. If that is the case, simply be grateful that the other person chose to hear you out.
There are levels to things you can do to hurt a person. Sometimes severe wrongs might make that person never allow you in their life again. It takes a degree of maturity and sincerity to accept this; it is only respectful to allow that person to move on with their life. Take no offense – take comfort in knowing you apologized, have been forgiven, and can continue with your life knowing you tried to made amends.