Understanding the art of how to apologize actually does have a bigger benefit to your relationships than you actually realize.
It makes you a lot more trustworthy and earns real respect; this is the lesson I have learnt.
I used to think that saying sorry was a sign of weakness and that it would always make me look like the guilty one who always did wrong.
Now, I have made my peace with offering a sincere apology when I am wrong.
Your situation may be different.
- Perhaps you just don't know how to say sorry and really mean it.
- Maybe you are afraid of looking too vulnerable and showing that side of you that you believe is weak.
- It could be that you are afraid that the person you're apologizing to might take advantage and try to guilt trip you.
Saying sorry to someone you know you have mistreated or upset, with deep sincerity, remorse and humility is an extremely cathartic experience... not just for the person you hurt, but for you as well.
You may be the kind of person who never wants to apologize and just so you know, it doesn't make you a bad person at all.
The aim here is to help you understand the benefits of atoning for the wrong you have done.
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 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...
When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough
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.
If you are like "Okay Sheila, that's all fine and dandy but I still don't know how to say sorry to someone and really mean it!" Here is a 3 step process to apologize to someone you have hurt.
How Do You Make A Sincere Apology?
1. Acknowledge The Pain You Have Caused
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. Don't Make A Backhanded Apology!
What exactly is a backhanded apology anyway?
It's when you say something like..."Sure I'm sorry, but you hurt me too you know!"
This is a marvelous way 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. You Don't Get To Control The Outcome
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.
How Do You Forgive Someone Who Isn't Sorry?
It can be the most painful thing when someone has hurt you and is not only unwilling to apologize, they feel no remorse about it.
Depending on the level that this person has hurt you, you do have the choice to let it go or you might need to speak to a professional about it.
Whether it is your pastor at the local church, a life coach or a therapist, it is important to have someone to talk.
Here are some tips to guide you:
1. It's Not Worth Your Time And Energy Anymore
I know it is easier said than done, but imagine this:
Whoever hurt you is moving on with their life and probably do not give a second thought about you.
So why allow them to live in your thoughts rent free?
Consider this as many times as you can when you find yourself thinking about that person and what they did to you.
2. Return The Focus Back To You
Ask yourself this question: "Who would I be if I let go of this anger and pain?"
Take some time out and write down the answer to this question.
I mean really, truly write down your response.
After you have written down your answer, purpose everyday to become that person. No matter how hard it gets, make it your ultimate goal to find real healing and get yourself back!
3. Liberate Yourself
Make a declaration to yourself that you are now free from the chains of the pain, anguish, anger and resentment that this person caused you.
If you can talk to the person who wronged you, tell them you have set yourself free by setting them free. Let them know that they no longer control your thoughts and feelings and you finally forgive them for what they did.
If you cannot talk to that person, write them a letter declaring your freedom but do not send it. Rather, burn the letter as a symbol of your truly letting go of the past.
This can be a very powerful act, and even though you may have your days when you fall back to your old feelings, remember the promise you made yourself and keep going!
But if you still believe in your heart that this person does not deserve to be forgiven, here's an article I wrote about why you don't always have to forgive.
What about when you have hurt someone you work with?
I am sure there are times when you have clashed with one of your colleague, so badly that it may have turned into a shouting match!
You might have even dropped the ball and let your boss down during an important project or presentation.
How To Apologize For A Mistake You've Made Professionally?
Express remorse about what happened
Be very direct about the part you played
Offer a solution to resolve the conflict
Assure that it will never happen again
An Example Of An Apology Letter To Your Boss
I would like to offer my sincere apology for (acknowledge sincerely the mistake you made).
I take full responsibility for the ensuing problems that occured because of my neglect, unpreparedness and laxity towards the seriousness of this (project/presentation/circumstance.)
If given a second chance, I would (outline in detail the steps you would take to rectify this problem. )
I take this unfortunate blunder very seriously and assure you that this will never happen again.
Sincerely, (your name)."
Over to You!
Now that you finally understand why it's important to apologize and how to apologize, how are you going to use this information to better yourself and relationships?