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Why Being Sorry Is Not Enough (Forgiveness, Relationships)
Sorry may be the hardest word, but it's not enough. If you make a mistake that affects someone else, and they are hurt by your actions, then sorry is only the beginning of a healing process that requires more work on your part. The first step in this process is recognizing what you did was wrong and why it was wrong.
All relationships require work to keep them strong, including friendships, romantic relationships and even business relationships. But some apologies are harder than others because damage done can be more difficult to repair.
When you've hurt someone you care about, the most important thing you can do is take responsibility for your actions. Own up to what you did and why it was wrong. Don't make excuses or try to blame the other person. Just be honest and clear about what you did and how sorry you are.
People want to know they're important enough for you to pay attention and take responsibility. They also need to know that you understand why what you did was wrong. The more aware and able you are, the more likely your apology will succeed.
It's not about shifting the blame or validating your own behavior, but simply making it clear that you understand what went wrong from the other person's perspective.
When a relationship is damaged by something one of you has done, an apology can be a powerful show of trust and commitment if it's sincere . Without an apology, however, feelings fester and grow over time because there is no closure or accountability. If someone hurts me, I need to know that they regret their actions, are committed to being better in the future, and are willing to do what it takes to repair our relationship.
I have learned to recognize false apologies. They sound something like this: " I'm sorry you feel that way," or "If I did something wrong." When someone says these things, they're refusing responsibility for their actions and avoiding being accountable for them.
The worst response is when somebody tries to blame you instead of themselves. You may have heard responses like this before: "You made me so mad!" Or, "You shouldn't ever be hurt by me because you know who I really am."
It's almost impossible to move past your anger toward someone especially if they aren't willing to admit their mistake and make amends. A false apology is the opposite of accountability—it can further damage a relationship because it lacks truth, understanding and humility.
A true apology says: "I did this, and I'm sorry," or some variation that acknowledges responsibility for your actions. You don't need to apologize every time you do something wrong in a relationship, but when you break trust through insensitivity , disrespect, selfishness or bad judgment , an apology can be truly transformative.
So, what can you do to make sure your apology is effective?
Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Be Honest and Clear About What Happened
Understand Why the Action Was Wrong From the Other Person's Perspective
Show You Are Committed to Being Better in the Future
Make Amends if Possible
When you take these steps, you're communicating that you care about the other person and want to repair the damage done. A sincere apology is a powerful tool for healing relationships and it all starts with you.
If you're struggling with how to apologize, or feel like you've been making excuses instead of taking responsibility, reach out for help. There are therapists and coaches who can guide you through the process of making a sincere apology and repairing your relationships.