One of the first life lessons most of us get taught is how to apologize. It goes hand in hand with sharing and saying please and thank you. Unfortunately, “I’m sorry” has become a blanket statement that we have all said countless times. Apologies can feel so formulaic. I’m sorry [insert something wrong we did]. And sometimes that’s all that’s said. Even now, as adults, in this world of cancel culture, we hear all sorts of “I’m sorry,” but, for most of them, they feel disingenuous. No one likes to hear blanket statements from someone trying to cover their behind so they don’t get into more trouble. “Oh no, I’ve been caught, so now I’ll say I’m sorry so that I don’t look like a horrible person.” And I think that’s what we have lost over the years. The hardest apology isn’t the one that you say after you’re caught red-handed. A genuine apology is one with integrity and sincerity.
It’s one thing to apologize for accidentally injuring someone on the playground as a kid. Still, it’s entirely different when you know you are doing something that could potentially hurt someone and doing it anyway in hopes of not getting caught. The other hard apology is the one where you have to swallow your pride. This is probably the one I struggle with the most. I am a very prideful person. It can be a very toxic trait of mine and is something I have worked on for a minute. But some things in life are more important than one’s pride. I’d rather be humbled and keep a friendship than prideful and lose someone important to me. But that’s something you need to figure out for yourself. What are your priorities? If your priorities are self-centered, you probably think this article is a waste of your time, but if apologizing is something you want to learn how to do and actively work on, here are a few tips and things to understand apologizing to someone.
Like I said before, I can be a pretty prideful person but more so when I was a kid. I thought I was the best at everything. No one came close to me in anything. One time I said I could run double what the girl’s soccer team was going to run, and I ate my words that day. I think I ran 20 rings of fire (it was a quarter-mile lap around some hills) before I collapsed. I was probably 14 at the time. I learned to swallow my arrogance after that real hard. But that’s not all I had to do. The girl’s coach made me apologize to the team for being a dick. “I’m sorry” wasn’t going to cut it either. The feeling of guilt I had for being such a cocky, arrogant piece of crap still humbles me to this day. But it also taught me how to put my pride to the side when it came to apologizing.
Sincerity and integrity
If you are going to apologize, do it because you mean it and not because you got caught. If you apologize to someone to make yourself feel better, you probably aren’t apologizing for the right reason. On the other hand, it’s pretty simple if you feel bad because you did something that hurt someone or because you did something you shouldn’t have, then you should want to apologize. Acknowledge that you have done something wrong by apologizing for your actions and be prepared to face the consequences, which leads me to my next point.
Apologies are not a get out of jail free card
Just because you apologize for something does not absolve you of your wrongdoing. You can hurt someone by your actions, apologize to them, and they can still not forgive you. And you know what? That’s fine for them to do. Just because you say “I’m sorry” doesn’t talk away from whatever pain you may have caused. You still have to face the consequences for your actions, but at least you can know that you tried to rectify the situation with some decent manners and empathy.
Keep in mind
A genuine apology usually isn’t the easiest thing to do, at least for most of us. No one likes to admit to things that they have done wrong or actions that may have caused some harm to someone, but nothing right in life is usually easy. A simple and sincere apology can be the difference between regret and a clear conscience. But don’t do it just because “it’s the right thing to do,” do it because you want to do it. After all, you are a decent person who is considerate of others. Live life with a bit of sincerity and integrity, and you might be surprised by the positive impact.