Monday, June 7, 2010

Why Is Apologizing So Hard?

One thing we quickly learn in life is that NO ONE is perfect. While it’s easy to see the flaws and faults in others, we often wear blinders when it comes to our own behavior and its effect on others.

Recognize that you’re going to make mistakes, and when you do, sometimes your words and actions will negatively impact those you care about most.

Have you ever:
  • Lost your temper and said something in anger that you regret?
  • Blamed someone else and then realized you were the one at fault?
  • Inconvenienced others by being late, careless, or otherwise self-absorbed?
If you have, you’re not alone. We’ve all failed to be the person we aspire to be at any given moment.

The trick is to recognize what you’ve done (or haven’t done) as quickly as possible so you can repair the damage before it becomes deep or permanent.

Saying “I’M SORRY” can make all the difference in strengthening or healing a relationship, yet sometimes these words stick in your throat.

Why is it so hard to say “I’m sorry” when you’ve said or done something hurtful?

For one thing, we like to be right so it’s painful to admit we’re wrong. With an apology, we acknowledge we’re imperfect. It takes a strong sense of self to make yourself vulnerable to another person.

Or maybe you’re concerned that you’ll be perceived as weak and the other person will take advantage of you in some way.

Here’s the reality though.

Most of the time, the injured party will be relieved to hear you say, “I’m sorry” and be quick to forgive you. At a minimum, you’ve opened the door to more meaningful communication where you can discuss what went wrong and what’s needed to repair the relationship and restore good feelings.

You can expend enormous energy trying to justify your behavior or defend what you said. But in the end, if your words or actions created problems for another person – and that individual is important to you – you need to set your ego aside and apologize as quickly as you can. I guarantee that your relationships will be stronger when you make a sincere apology and follow up with behavior that restores trust and respect.
"It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one's heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize." - Stephen Covey


  1. Saying your sorry gets easier once you get in the practice of doing it. I hold less anger by apologizing.

  2. You are so right on both counts, Julia. If apologizing is not part of a person's regular pattern of behavior, doing it will seem awkward at first. But you quickly get positive reinforcement from the other person when you do it so you're motivated to do it in the future!

    And apologizing helps you let go of all kinds of negative emotions, leading to greater inner peace and health.

    Thanks for sharing your insights, Julia!

  3. Wish my daughter in law practiced this. She became angry at me and my husband over some perceived slight. She has now cut off all communication and discontinued pictures of the 4 month old grand baby. So sad. Her husband unfortunately does not stand up to her.

  4. Did I mention that she never talked to us about the "slight". She posted it on our daughter's Facebook.

  5. Anonymous, It's unfortunate when people cannot have honest, direct conversations to clear the air. In situations like you described, the best approach may be to simply ask her what caused her to be upset with you...and what she would like differently in the future. One person in a relationship often has to be the more mature one, to respond in a way that opens the door rather than slamming it shut. Responding in kind to her behavior only sets the stage for more divisiveness. I wish you well in resolving this unfortunate situation so you can enjoy a healthy relationship with everyone in your family.

  6. What should or can you do when someone who was at one point one of your "best friend" and now current roommate won't accept an apology?!


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