A true apology comes from a non-defensive place. It comes seeing that you hurt someone, whether your fault or not, someone was hurt. Self-inventory and examining what happened can come later.
How to Apologize For Reals
So many people believe they’re apologizing when they’re actually not. We witness it first hand as therapists in our couples sessions. Step one. Literally say “I’m sorry.” Nope. Doesn’t happen. Those words rarely come out of peoples’ mouths. And if they do, it’s quickly followed by a “buttttt…” which negates anything that came before the “but” including the “I’m sorry.”
A NOTE FROM JOHN
I totally understand why. I was one of these people. I never used to apologize. Instead I would explain. The explanation would be my apology so I got really good at explaining things. Usually to the point where the other person was so exhausted of me explaining that they didn’t even want an apology anymore. They would rather me just stop talking.
My mother is like this. She will explain for days instead of just saying two words. I’ve never heard her say “I’m sorry” in my life. Not once. So was my father. And also my brother. Yes, I do believe it starts at home. Like manners. If you hurt someone or did something wrong, you apologize. That was never instilled in me.
If you hurt someone or did something wrong, you explained to no end why you did what you did and justified all of your actions in the process! So I grew up explaining a lot, rationalizing a lot, justifying a lot. This created distance, drift, and resentment in my relationships. I pulled from logic rather than heart.
It wasn’t until recently, yes around age 45 post a divorce, many expired relationships, a masters in Psychology, and helping thousands of others apologize for reals that I finally started to do it myself. And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t some fancy folded therapy technique I pulled out of my back pocket.
It was just me asking myself, If someone hurts me would I want them to apologize? If so, how? The answer was very simple. Yes. I would like them to just say “I’m sorry.” No explanation on why they said or did what they did. Just an honest simple heartfelt, “I’m sorry.”