Saying sorry is not easy to do. Well, at least not an authentic, sincere apology.
How do you say that your sorry?
Have make up sex?
Buy something expensive?
Swear that you’ll never [______] again?
While these are gestures to help you and/or the person you hurt feel better, it does not directly acknowledge the offense. The repair is an important part of resolving conflict. One way to do this is to work towards understanding the pain that was caused. You may simply ask one in a genuine manner, “Did I hurt you?” and asking opened ended questions to understand how.
Be sincere. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way if it is sincere. When you apologize by saying sorry, take responsibility for the specific behavior/ mistake and the impact that it had on the other person/ their feelings. If there is something specific that was ruptured during the process such as respect, trust, friendship, safety, it can be helpful to check in what the other person needs to help repair. Acknowledge that you have hurt someone and validate their feelings. For example: “I’m sorry that I ___________. It was not OK to [____] and I want you to know [_____]. Express remorse. The last part of the apology can include your intention to make amends–to prevent a situation or behavior from happening again. Rebuild trust by owning to your mistakes and making an intentional effort to learn from them and do better.
Here are some examples NOT to say:
“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings”
“I’m sorry that you’re such a [__________].”
“I’m sorry, but ________”
Minimizing, mocking, blaming, shaming…these are part of insincere apologizes and things to avoid.
While a sincere apology can be a start to mending a ruptured relationship, it is not a band-aid for wounds that are deep.
If you are in an abusive relationship, please reach out to one of many hotline resources.
DayOne Crisis Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
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