When “I’m sorry” is the gift you need to give

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Apologies are something most of us don’t do well or do often enough.

We may think about apologizing. We may even brood about it, but doing it is often left undone. A truly heartfelt “I’m sorry”is a wonderful gift to give and will be well worth the effort, and it is free! Apologies can make the receiver and the giver feel better, and may mend a broken relationship or a heart.

“The decision to apologize is a tug-of-war between stubborn pride and guilt. . . . Making a sincere apology is an act of courage, not a sign of weakness.”

If you would like to get better at giving apologies, or if you are currently in a personal battle between your pride and a growing sense of guilt, the following 3 R’s might help you sort it out.

3 R’s of a sincere apology:

1. Responsibility

  • Accept responsibility for what was said or done.
  • This is the hardest part, I know. It is tough to admit to yourself, yet alone someone else – especially the person you have hurt – that you have done something wrong – intentionally or not. But it really is an act of courage, and one that can repair and enrich relationships.

2. Remorse

  • Allow yourself to feel the sadness or embarrassment associated with what you have done. Pushing it away will only make you feel worse, and will never make the one you hurt feel any better.
  • Accept and explain how you feel when you apologize. Then pause and listen. It might take time for them to let their guard down, and their first response may be hurtful to you. DO not get defensive. Listen.
  • Assure the person you have hurt that you are serious about not wanting to do the same thing in the future. Explain what action you will take to not let it happen again.
    • “I realize what I said really hurt you, it was thoughtless/unkind/wrong and I was wrong. If I get angry.frustrated/etc again, I will walk a way and cool down.  I am sorry. I was wrong/jealous/immature.You don;t deserve that.

3. Reparations

  • “How can I make this up to you?” “Is there anything I can do to make this better?
  • Then listen and do not react defensively! Their request might seem over the top to you or too simple to be effective. But since this is not about you, simply listen. Do not offer any suggestions at this point. Let them share their feelings and thoughts without interruption. Remember you have thinking about your apology for awhile, but they are just hearing it for the first time and may need a minute or longer to fully process and accept it.
  • If you can, do exactly what they ask you to, and if that is not possible, talk about solutions until one is found and agreed upon without getting upset or changing the sincerity of your apology.

Timing

Now! The sooner you apologize the better, but do not let the passage of time persuade you that an apology is no longer needed, won’t matter, or will simply stir up old hurts.

One of the most touching and beautiful apologies I ever received occurred years after the incident, long after the sting of the situation had faded for me. Yet, when I received the apology it opened my heart in ways I did not even know were possible. I was completely impressed by the courage and kindness of the giver and it inspired me to be more open about apologizing to others in the future. I have never forgotten the apology, the bravery and kindness of the giver and the warmth it immediately invoked in me. It truly was a moment to remember.  P. Robson

Don’t miss the chance to make someone’s day, open someone’s heart or help put it back together again. Old wounds can be healed, and new bonds created.

Whether you are apologizing for being short to a store clerk, stepping on the toes of a colleague or for deeply hurting someone you love, the three R’s can help you right your wrong. You may gain as much peace of mind as you give, and your apology may even be powerful enough to change the past and redirect the future.

Please note:  There is always a chance the recipient might not be ready to accept your apology – now or ever. If they refuse, accept it, and try to forgive yourself in that moment. Depending on the situation, you may want to try again in the future. If not, be open to whatever happens and know you did your best. Don’t judge their reaction or brood about it. Accept the fact that your words and actions have the ability to harm and be more aware and caring in the future.

As my Valentine’s Day gift to my readers and a way of spreading love throughout 2017, if you have an apology you want to give any time in 2017, but haven’t yet mustered the courage, I will give a free 30-minute apology insight and practice session to anyone interested in making amends. Email me @ wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com. Include your name and a brief description of the situation. I will get back to you to arrange a time. If you have been thinking about it, it is time to do it! 

You can do it!

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