Sorry, Not Sorry. How to really apologize.

I said “I’m Sorry, that should be enough.” Right? Wrong!!!! Saying you are sorry is not enough.  Many people think by saying they are sorry their apology should be duly noted as accepted.  Do you hear yourself saying “I’m sorry” way more than you would like to hear?  If so you might need to know more about how to actually apologize. Or maybe you did something to make someone feel pretty bad and even after you said you were sorry they still have a wall up?  If so, you might wanna keep reading.  It may help you make that wall a little softer and a little lower than earlier today.

I would like to offer a few suggestions in no particular order but should be done as soon as you get the courage to fess up and ask for a genuine pardon.sorry baby

  • First you will need to acknowledge and decide to accept the fact that “Sorry” is just not enough.  It will never connect the help the other party “feel better.”  It just won’t stick.
  • Then decide if you are truly apologetic.  If you are not apologetic please don’t apologize.  If you don’t feel “at fault” then you should decide if you feel responsible for how the other person is feeling about the situation that includes you in some way.  If you are not sure how the other party feels, then ask so your apology can be more effective for the other party involved.
  • Now this is the meat of the apology and requires the most courage.  In some instances you may need to call on the courage of that lion that lives inside of you.  You will need to acknowledge what you did, what you think you did or your involvement in the situation at hand.  AAAnnnddddddddd you will need to state what you plan to do to make sure this situation under the current circumstances does not happen again.  This would also be a good time to ask the other party what you can do to make them feel better or to make the situation easier to manage as time goes on.
  • Lastly be sure to ask the other person if they are willing to accept your apology.  Ask them to accept your apology.  Check your tone to make sure it is sincere and welcoming.  Then be willing to follow-up and let that person know you never plan to make them feel that way again.  Let them know you never plan to “do this again.”

Hey, I regret to tell you that “I’m Sorry” is just NOT enough.  Too many of those are only going to help build resentment toward you and your word which holds no value after you apologize for the same thing too many times.  If this person or this relationship is important to you then you will learn how to apologize that holds you to your word and makes them have trust in you again.  If you don’t figure out how to effectively and genuinely apologize then your constant requests for pardons to your behavior will only sound like “womp womp womp” every time you open your mouth to say “sorry.”

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Montoyia McGowan, LCSW
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