Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
The art of the apology. It’s something we talk about often in my counseling office.
Here are some faux apologies:
If I hurt you, I’m sorry (notice the responsibility is on the offended, not on the offender)
I’m not sure what I did, but I guess I’m sorry (again, the offended person is at fault. I’ll apologize if it will get you out of your snit, but I don’t really think I did anything wrong)
Okay, look, I’m sorry; BUT YOU. . . . (obviously the person is not sorry, takes no responsibility, and blames the other person)
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, how many times do I have to say it? (the offender is angry with the person he offended for being offended. Yeah, that works.)
I’m sorry. Now can we just please forget about it? (The offender may truly be sorry, but he wants no consequence, and he believes he should just be given a pass)
Here is the simple way to make a true apology:
“I’m sorry that (not if) I hurt you. I know what I said/did was out of line. Will you forgive me?”
This is much harder to do, because it doesn’t push the fault onto the offended person. Name the thing you said or did, accept responsibility, say you’re sorry, and ask for forgiveness. That forgiveness part is really a kicker, because it hurts our pride. When we offend someone, our pride should be hurt. We’ve behaved poorly.
Now the other hard part: accepting the apology. “Thank you for your apology. Of course I forgive you.”
Why is that so hard? Maybe because we’re afraid that offering forgiveness means we have to put up with terrible behavior. It doesn’t. Forgiving someone is simply giving up your right to get even. It is erasing a debt. However, it does NOT mean that you have to continue to accept mistreatment. You may need to drop a relationship, draw firm boundaries if the person is a close relative or spouse, and make it clear that while you forgive, you also expect a change in behavior. This isn’t being snotty and superior. It’s simply asking for better behavior.
Finally, I want to close by saying that I don’t like “I apologize.” Really? For what? No, not good enough. To be effective, “I apologize” needs to be followed with “for saying/doing (name the crime). To say clearly what the offense was will help a person from repeating it.
Try it. You’ll like it. It clears the air, and life can go on.