Sunday, July 7, 2013

How To Apologize

We all know that when we do something wrong, or something that hurts another person, it is best to apologize.  Its a lesson we were taught as children.  If you make someone cry or hurt them, you have to say "I'm sorry" to make it all better.  What not everyone realizes is that there are times we should apologize, times we shouldn't, and how to apologize for the correct reasons.

As children, our parents and adult figures drill into our heads the words "Say you're sorry!" when we behave in a way that they do not approve. This is where we learn to say we're sorry even when we don't believe we've done anything wrong.  Its unhealthy to insist a child apologize for something without giving them the exact reason that they should be apologetic.  We are taught that the two words should be enough to sooth any situation that was negative.  As adults, we all know that isn't true.  Saying the words and having an understanding of why you were wrong are two VERY different things.

As we get older we learn the "I'm Sorry!" trick to try and get away from an argument.  It is almost always said out of anger or frustration and never means what the words were intended.  It is more of a white flag in a conversation, a way of saying "I give up!"  It is a negative and extremely unhealthy way of dealing with any type of conflict, and is very immature.  If you are not truly understanding of how you handled a situation wrongly, then you should never utter the words "I'm Sorry."  People who throw the words out carelessly are chipping away at their integrity.  This is an improper negative use of the words "I'm sorry."

I want you all to learn the PROPER use of the words "I'm sorry" and to learn how and when to say it so the meaning doesn't lose its integrity.  Because of the way we tend to overuse our apologies, most people see them as a sign of weakness, admitting defeat, giving up control, or invalidating our opinions.  In REALITY, a correct apology is none of those things.  A correct apology actually has the power to reinforce our opinions while still respecting the other person.

Lets start with what an apology is.  An apology isn't meant to "fix" a situation.  An apology is an acknowledgement of our offense, it is saying "I realize that my behavior was inappropriate."  It is also a promise.  A promise that you know the way you acted was improper and you are not going to continue that behavior.  "I'm sorry" is basically a shorter way of saying "I know that I was wrong in how I behaved, and I promise not to continue that behavior."

When a human is hurt, angry, or frustrated, it is a natural response to become combative and defensive.  In that moment it is easy to get carried away with our words or actions.  After the fact, we need to look back and reevaluate how we spoke, and if something we did or said hurt the other person, and you feel remorseful about it, you can word your apology in a way that still validates how you felt while still acknowledging that your words were improper.  By saying something along the lines of "I am sorry that I spoke to you that way, I was angry and frustrated by the situation, and should not have let my emotions override my better judgement in the words I chose" you are firmly apologizing for your behavior while still holding onto your opinion.

Another big lesson we need to learn is that an apology should never be expected.  You cannot decide when another person should feel remorseful, nor should you bother your peace of mind with nonsense about what you expect of others.  If you stop taking things other people do and say personally, and understand that their actions and reactions only have to do with their thinking and not YOU, its easier to control how you react to a situation, but that is a blog for a different day... Or a whole book.  :)

So with that I urge you to stop withholding the apologies that people deserve due to your own pride.  Give them properly so you do not take away from yourself.  Give them quickly and freely with no expectations.  Its always best to apologizes as soon as possible.  Never, ever, apologize for something that you do not think was inappropriate.  And lastly, do not EVER attach an insult or accusation to an apology.  It takes away all meaning of the apology when you add a negative while trying to form a positive.

And for all of those people that I wasn't kind to through my "bad" years, I truly apologize for any hurt I placed upon you when I was at my lowest.  It was unkind of me to spread my negativity in the way that I did.  I hope you all can forgive me, and know that I am now a completely changed person.

Peace, Happiness, and Forgiveness