Learning When and How to Apologize

by Chloe' Flowers

A big part of maturity is taking accountability for things you’ve done whether intentional or unintentional. Apologies can be hard to give, because it requires admitting we may have hurt someone.  Although one typically learns how to apologize as a child, I find many adults still struggle to understand the importance of a proper apology. Apologies should be habitual as we are all flawed, and I will share ways to overcome the hesitance around saying sorry and taking responsibility when we make mistakes. We have all hurt people, and people have hurt us – we are human. Apologies are a verbal acknowledgement of offense and an attempt to create peace with another person. Apologies are often the continuum of life and relationships and I am eager to unpack a healthy approach on when and how to apologize. 


When To Apologize


The right time to apologize is often as soon as you feel the urge. If you find yourself going back and forth in your mind about if you may have offended someone, or handled a situation incorrectly – apologize. It does not have to be a formal apology, but you can at least acknowledge that something went wrong. Having a conversation can eliminate the detriment of a relationship. So many misunderstandings could have been solved with a simple, but sincere admittance of crossing a boundary line, or having an unnecessary tone. Correct small things before they turn into big things. Much of emotional maturity is understanding how important communication is, and the more you learn how to communicate the less you will be misunderstood. Apologies are like compliments – we should give them freely, in abundance and spread love. Something else to remember about apologies, is that sometimes both parties should apologize. You may not always get the apology you deserve, but you can be satisfied with the fact that you did your part. 


The Proper Way To Apologize


You have to be genuine with the delivery of your apology. If the person can tell it isn’t sincere, it would’ve been better to say nothing at all. To raise your self awareness, contemplate about the situation and think about what you could have done differently. If there truly is another route you could’ve taken, simply apologize for that. Be specific when you apologize. This lets the person know exactly what you’re taking accountability for and gives them comfort that you see and hear them. This eases the tension because both sides know that there is no confusion about the situation. 


When apologizing, make sure you listen. Listening is a big part of an apology because it gives you more clarity on their perspective and allows them to be heard. Verbally apologizing is the easy part. The other half of that is understanding that an apology is an agreement that the same mistake won’t be made again. When you apologize, it is only sincere if you actually change. 


Be prompt with your apology. Don’t let too much time pass before you express how you feel. The other person may be sinking into a false idea about what happened. The more time that passes is more time to commit to a version that isn’t accurate, but don’t fall into the lie that it’s too late to apologize. Any relationship of true worth to us can be honored in an apology, whether or not the individual elects to forgive us. Be quick to alleviate strain on relationships that are important to you. Make sure to make eye contact and to speak up with confidence but remorse for how you made them feel. 


Moving Forward From An Apology 


The most important thing to do after you apologize is forgive yourself. It’s no fun when others are disappointed in us, but being disappointed in yourself is much worse. Disappointing yourself is inevitable, but you must move forward. Understand that you are growing more and more each day. 


I want to give a different outlook on expressions of regret and shift us into embracing compassion for others and yourself. After you apologize to someone, you should feel good about yourself. This is an opportunity for growth. There are lessons to take away from every mistake we make. As hard as it may be to accept our imperfections, they push us closer to our higher selves. Be grateful to have people around you to learn from and move through these lessons with. Compassion and patience take relationships far. Relationships that you are emotionally and spiritually connected should be handled with care and care includes apologizing. 

Image:  @aniko.arts

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