I don’t know about you, but making an apology for something I’ve said or done is one of the hardest things I ever have to do. That is, until I’ve actually
made it. Then, looking at my apology in the rearview mirror, the first thing I notice is that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be.
Afterwards, I feel freedom from stress and regret. While I can’t say I feel happy, I do feel some small sense of pride that I stood up and owned my actions and took responsibility for myself.
Seven Ways to Talk Yourself Out of an Apology
It never feels great to admit you’ve done something wrong. It’s one of the hardest things for some people to do. If you’re one of those people, you’re probably already familiar with some of these false beliefs that can stop you from making the apology you need to make.
Myth: Apologizing is an acknowledgement of guilt.
Fact: Apologizing is an acknowledgement of being human.
Myth: Apologizing is a sign of weakness.
Fact: Making an apology makes you more of a person, not less.
Myth: She knows I didn’t mean it.
Fact: You really can’t know what she knows. Even if that’s true, you strengthened the relationship by saying you’re sorry.
Myth: I couldn’t help it.
Fact: If you couldn’t help yourself, that’s even more reason to give an apology.
Myth: It’s not my fault.
Fact: Perhaps not. But does it matter?
Myth: What’s done is done, it can’t be changed.
Fact: An apology changes the future.
Myth: An apology will only dig up a bad memory.
Fact: A bad memory does not disappear. Apology is one way to clarify what happened and to put a different light on it.
The Four-part Apology Formula
Below is a fail-safe four-step template for making a simple, and effective apology.
I’m not talking about one of those quick and thoughtless, “I’m sorry!” apologies that people say and don’t mean and spit out to avoid an argument or in hopes they’ll still get what they want.
Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry, acknowledge your responsibility, and ask to be forgiven. Nothing more is required.
- I’m sorry that I _______.
- I should not have (said or done) _________.
- It was my (fault or responsibility).
- I hope you can forgive me.
In particular, do not offer excuses for your behavior or in any way attempt to blame the other person in any measure for what you did. Even if you think there’s plenty of responsibility to go around. You are making your apology. If the other person has something to apologize for, it is up to him to see that and to deliver it.
Apology Gets Easier with Practice
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, make amends immediately. Whether it is for your actions, or inactions, what you’ve said, or failed to say, a sincere, heartfelt apology can mend your damaged relationship and build a bridge to a stronger relationship in the future.
It also helps you mend your own soul, erasing any feelings of shame, embarrassment or worthlessness.
Sadly, most of us get plenty of opportunities to make an apology. Each time you do, you build on the foundational qualities needed for a strong relationship – compassion, patience, commitment, honesty, vulnerability and intentionality. More than that, you have the opportunity to carry your relationships to a deeper level.
In the future, view your opportunities for apology as a chance to demonstration your commitment to the relationship.
It takes a great deal of character strength to
apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather than out
of pity. A person must possess himself and have a
deep sense of security in fundamental principles
and values in order to genuinely apologize.
~ Stephen Covey
Live Honest, Open, and True
The beauty of making an apology is that you then get to make a fresh start in your relationship.It’s the closest thing to a do-over that you will ever get in life. When you apologize, you demonstrate your commitment to honesty, your openness to acknowledge your own faults, and your willingness to be true to your relationships. Making an apology is the bridge that closes your wounded relationship.
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Do you struggle with making an apology when you know you need to? Do you put yourself forward, or do you shirk from it? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!
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