How To Apologize Properly and Be Truly Forgiven

how to apologize

There was a time in my life where it was easier to remove one of my kidneys than to get an apology out of me.

Now I will apologize at the drop of a hat when I am wrong.

So what in the world changed?

For me, saying sorry to someone I know I have mistreated or upset, with deep sincerity, remorse and humility is an extremely cathartic experience... not just for the person I hurt, but for me as well.

I know there are so many of us who never want to apologize (even though we are in the wrong) because it leaves us exposed.

... sometimes it even makes you feel worse, ESPECIALLY when that person does not accept your apology.


The act of saying sorry reveals a certain level of vulnerability that you may not want to show, not even to the people you truly love.

In case you did not know, sincerely opening up your heart to someone, acknowledging the pain you have caused and the remorse you feel is a very powerful thing to do.

Every single time (other than once) I apologized to someone I hurt, it was well received, because they know it came from the depths of my soul.

But like I said about that one time, it didn't go down the way I thought it would...

My former friend... she was deeply hurt by the way I neglected her. 

It didn't matter to her that I explained that I was going through a phase in my life where there were certain things I was not prepared to face, and sadly, she was a casualty of the war that was going on in my head.

She did not accept my apology.

And I respected her decision to stop being my friend.

I still relay the messages in my head... maybe I should have worded them better... but I must remind myself that what's done is done.

She made her choice, and based on that, I made my choice as well. I made peace with the situation and moved on with my life. I did my best and I was not going to carry that guilt or shame with me.

Anyway, back to you, my friend!

If you are like "Okay Sheila, that's all fine and dandy but I still don't know how to apologize to someone and really mean it!"

So here are 3 tips:

1. Make sure that you openly and outwardly acknowledge the pain you have caused to the person you are apologizing to.

If you really want to make amends with this person, tell them, with your pride and ego set aside, that you are fully aware of what you did and the pain it caused this person.

Let them know that it was not your intention to hurt them so deeply, that you were going through your own raw emotions and in that moment, you said or did things that you now see were totally uncalled for, and for your actions, you are deeply sorry.

2. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to use this opportunity to point out what the person you hurt did wrong, so you can somehow absolve yourself of wrong doing in an attempt to feel better.

"Sure I'm sorry, but you hurt me too you know!"

This is a marvelous way to go if your intention is to pick another fight!

Obviously there are many instances where the person you are apologizing to may have hurt you as well.

You may not like what you're going to read next, but I'll write it anyway...

In these situations, I apologize for what I have done. I acknowledge and take ownership of what I said and what I did wrong, because those are my sins, not theirs!

I am saying sorry to set myself free, because I know I have my own karma to deal with.

I do not wait for them to apologize back! They probably never will! And to be honest, I have come to a point in my life where I am okay with that.

This may be a tough pill to swallow.

You might be thinking "so I have to put myself out there and apologize to someone who hurt me just as badly?"

If you really care about him or her and he/she really is a good person, or has significant value in your life, then why wouldn't you?

3. Understand that the outcome is completely out of your control.

The most painful part about this process is that you cannot influence how this person will react to your apology.

Yes you have apologized...

Yes it has taken a lot of swallowing of your pride...

But there is still a chance that the person you have hurt will not accept your apology.

And guess what? You have to accept that.

There is absolutely nothing you can do about how the person you apologized to will react to  it.

When my ex-friend ignored my apology, I said to myself "I have done my part."

I was sincere in my remorse, I was truthful and I was genuinely apologetic, but she did not acknowledge it.

At this point, my friend, you can get mad at the rejection, but it still won't change the fact that they have refused to accept the part you played in hurting them.

At this point, you have to allow the person you hurt to heal, however long it takes.

Whether they come back to you or not, is completely and totally up to them, and it is something you must deal with.

Having said all of that, my success rate with this skill, for me, has been 99% successful.

Ultimately, majority of people do accept genuine apologies, because they are so so rare!

So if you know there is someone you have to say sorry to today, please do it.