I was upset recently.
I’m talking really, really upset. The type of upset where you want to slam doors, throw yourself on your bed, and sob wild, wonderfully pitiful tears. Except for the fact that I don’t normally do those things—other than maybe the door thing, that I might do.
My point here is that being that upset and angry was a wakeup call. I realized that when I do the hurting, I really suck at apologizing.
Here’s what my door-slamming, wakeup moment caused me to realize: the apology is not about the person doing the apologizing. At least, it shouldn’t be.
If we hurt someone, sure—we feel bad. We empathize with the emotions we’ve caused. But we also feel our own which can—at times—be the justification of our actions ringing loudly in our minds.
I thought about how I phrased my apology the last time I had reason to give one and I noticed that my instinctual response is to apologize and somehow explain my actions.
“I’m sorry that you feel this way when I do this ….”
“I’m sorry that you were hurt when I did this ….”
These rang through my mind like the most annoying alarm bells because, honestly—are those apologies even about the person who is hurt? No. Hell no. They’re about me. They’re justifying making me feel better for hurting another person by my actions.
So I thought some more. When I slammed that door, what was it I most wanted to hear?
It was simple.
I truly just wanted to hear these words: I’m sorry.
And nothing more.
Those words are more powerful than we give them credit for and they hold a special place in the halls of history for the mountains they have moved.
Those simple words can heal a wound faster than any excuse we plaster over our actions in the hopes of making the other person understand why we did what we did.
My next apology will be a shockingly short one because I’ll be skipping the justifications.
In a way, it all goes back to that age-old golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you’ve hurt someone, place yourself in their shoes and treat them as you would wish to be treated. That’s my new life motto when it comes to apologies.
In that light, I’ll leave you with nine quotes that may help you shift your apology perspective the next time you find yourself in a bind, realizing you f*cked up and you need to make it right:
- “Oh it seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word.” ~ Elton John
- “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.” ~ Dr. Seuss
- “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
- “Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.” ~ Bruce Lee
- “I’m sorry. Two words I always think after you’re gone, when I realize I was acting all wrong.” ~ Feist
- “Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.” ~ Tryon Edwards
- “Apologies are great, but they don’t really change anything. You know what does? Action.” ~ Stella Young
- “Be the hero of hearts; learn to say I’m sorry.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich
- “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Author/Editor: Molly Murphy
Image: Author’s Own
Copy Editor: Lieselle Davidson