As humans we know exactly when we should apologise. We feel it, we know it but whether or not we act upon this instinct is up to us! Although in my previous blog we discussed “10 Things you should never have to apologise for” for those that over apologise, I can’t tell you when you should apologise. You will know when you have overstepped boundaries, haven’t done your share of the workload or chores. You will know when you’ve broken a promise or let someone you care about down. Sometimes we say things we instantly regret but don’t take a step back and own up to our mistakes. Whatever it is, however small or big the betrayal, let down or hurt you may have caused, will feel it and at some point you will have to address it.
Remember that an apology is not a sign of weakness!
Sometimes apologies can be seen as a sign of weakness, and then stubbornness takes over. Rather than reflecting and seeing things from the other persons perspective we stand our ground (even if we are wrong) and hold onto something petty the other person did in order to avoid owning up to our own mistake. However, when you have wronged someone, or acted out of character, hurt someone or let them down an apology can be a a great way of owning up to your mistakes and gives way for growth and healing. Apologising requires great strength and when done genuinely can hold the power to really restore and repair damaged relationships in some cases almost instantly.
Forgive yourself first before you can ask for forgiveness.
An apology is an admission that you have wronged someone and you are actually sorry for it. Everyone at some point is wrong, humans are created as imperfect beings. It is always better to concentrate on doing whats right then always thinking your right because lets be honest everyone at some point is wrong. Remember making mistakes is human nature and learning from our mistakes, not only make you makes you more conscious of your words and actions but helps you grow. So instead of dwelling on the “if only’s” (which are never healthy or helpful) take action so you don’t have to apologise for not having the guts to apologise in the first place! Leaving things to fester only makes them worse and creates bad feelings to a point of not even knowing why things got so bad or how to fix them. So forgive yourself for being human and making mistakes and then pluck up the courage to apologise!
Make sure your intentions are genuine!
The intention behind your apology has to be authentic, otherwise it looses meaning and in some cases can be more damaging. For example, apologising to avoid consequences of behaviour, to avoid confrontation, or use it as a cop out rather than actually resolving an issue is never helpful in the long run. I always say use words such as “I am sorry” and “I love you” when you truly feel it and you truly mean it. You don’t owe anyone an apology; it can’t be demanded but must come from you, because you need to give it and because you really mean it. Otherwise is it really an apology?
How do I apologise?
Some of us find it really difficult to say sorry. Maybe you used to apologise only to be faced with rejection. Maybe you find it hard to admit fault. Some of us get nervous and tongue tied and sometimes we start off with good intentions and end up saying all the wrong things, making the situation even worse than it was before. Whatever it may be, remember that you are apologising for yourself. To be the type of person you want to be and to resolve issues rather than carrying them with you like a weighty overbearing burden.
Sometimes just saying “I am sorry” isn’t enough. It doesn’t acknowledge the pain and hurt someone may have experience and that really needs to be validated in a genuine apology. The whole point of an apology is to resolve the situation, come to an understanding about how your words and actions affect others and to start the process of healing. So here are some easy steps to help you on the way to mastering an apology. Remember you can change this and adapt it however you want, as long as the message you want to convey is heard and received.
1. Express Remorse or regret.
This is a crucial part of an apology. You need to let the person know you acknowledge you have done something wrong and be specific about the action/ wrong you have committed. You can start by saying I’m sorry for…/ I feel really bad about…/ I really regret…..and then state where you went wrong (you could use your own but you get the gist!)
2. Address emotions and consequences!
The more specific you are here the better. Really let the person know you understand their point of view, the consequences of your actions and the emotions they may have felt. you can say: “This was wrong because…/ It made you feel…/ I wish I hadn’t ____ because…” This gives your apology more meaning and is even more better received if you reflect on your own characteristics or traits that you need to work on and communicate that.
3. State a clear plan of changes you will make.
It is important to show that you have reflected and understood where you went wrong but also to show that you intend to not make the same mistake again. Communicate this by saying “Next time…/ In the future I will…/ I will try to be more…” This doesn’t guarantee that everything will be fine but it shows that you will be more aware of your words and actions and their consequences.
4. Ask if your apology is accepted.
Saying “Will you forgive me…/ can you give me another chance…” can be a great way to begin healing the damage your words or actions may have caused. However, it is really important to do this with hope of forgiveness rather than entitlement or expectations. It is possible that you might not be forgiven straight away and sometimes it takes time. But remember you are apologising to right a wrong and to be at peace with yourself.
Remember it is always better to think before you speak and take a step back before you act out of heightened emotions or impulsively. However this isn’t always easy and we all make mistakes and it is important to then apologise if you have acted in a way or said something that hurt someone when you could have dealt with the situation better. It is always better to choose your battles wisely and stand up for things that really matter to you. I am still working on apologising and it is a humbling experience!
Comment below with your thoughts on apologies!