Why is it so hard to say the words we so desperately want to hear?
Many times we turn the simple task of saying, “I’m sorry” into a chicken and egg game. Or worse, we use it to guilt others, or withhold it to hurt.
Do you find yourself actually taking the gift of an apology, whether given or received, as your opportunity to “win”? (If the word “but” is anywhere near the words “I’m sorry”, you aren’t apologizing, you’re trying to be right.)
Why? Because you are missing two fundamental components of the foundation you need to build for a heartfelt apology that can be felt by the other person and by you!
Part #1: Accepting Responsibility
If you’re like most people, your perception of the situation is clouded by the hurt you’re feeling when someone you love is upset with you. It also might be difficult for you to acknowledge and accept your reaction to any situation as being in your control.
Unfortunately, we live in a left-brain-logic controlled world, where the right side of the brain (passion, creativity, love) is locked up in a prison camp of right and wrong, only engaged when the left brain says, “hey we need to be upset here!”
When we “see” with our hearts, we get side-tracked, applying meaning to every action and inaction, weakening our ability to accept responsibility for the words we chose to use while under duress.
By seeing instead with our minds, we lose our vulnerability and gain a capacity to receive.
Try using statements such as, “I’m sorry my reaction hurt you. I was feeling unimportant to you. I chose the wrong words, which made the situation worse. I love you very much. I value you. And I’m deeply sorry my reaction pushed your buttons.”
Remember some people are hard to apologize to, as they take the opportunity to drive home how wrong you were and how right they were.
Your ability to hold your space and stay focused on the sincerity of your apology is determined only by the strength of your emotional fitness. However, just because you are ready to say “I’m sorry”, doesn’t mean the other person is ready to hear it.
A sincere apology does not need a response, nor wants one. It is about you apologizing for your contribution to the situation – that’s it!
Respond to any negative comments by staying true to YOU. Try these words …
“Again, I understand. I hear you when you say my actions or words hurt you, and I’m sorry for hurting you. I love you and only want to find a way to move past this. I understand you might not be ready to talk, so know how important this is to me to resolve, and please let me know when you feel better and can guide me to a better place with you. “
#2 The Art Of Letting Go
This does NOT just mean you have to forgive and forget. You must heal your hurt too. However, if you can accept and acknowledge your contribution to the situation, this will free you from residue from the conflict.
The easiest way to let go is to ask YOURSELF one question, “Which is more valuable? The idea of being right, or the relationship?”
Ideas are a dime a dozen and can change on a whim. You shouldn’t protect them with your “life” or at the expense of those you care about. The rules and meanings you put with your actions and words are not always the same ones used by those close to you.
Avoid seeing other people’s actions through your filter of right and wrong, and how you treat others. While your highest commitment to your partner could be a dedication to being on time, he or she may not actually put value on this. You can’t take offense to something that isn’t the intentional slight you perceive it to be.
Well, you can, but you’ll be miserable if you hold onto it!
5 Ways To Say I’m Sorry And Show Them That You Mean It
1. Hug. It’s hard to stay mad when you hug someone. Physical touch can bridge the widest of emotional distances.
2. Write or find a poem showing how you feel about the other person outside of this situation. Keep it simple, give the poem to the person you wronged, and say, “I’m sorry. I know that might not be good enough right now and I’ve struggled to find the right words beyond I’m sorry. I found this poem with better words than I could ever write to tell you how important you are to me. Please accept my apology when you feel better.”
3. Give the person a list of the top 5 reasons they are important to you. Add a note at the end explaining, “I told myself a long time ago to remember these 5 amazing things that make you special to me. I let you down and I let myself down when I forgot those today. Please forgive me. I can’t imagine missing even one moment because I chose to use the wrong words, did the wrong thing and hurt you.”
4. Create an online collage of 10 photos of amazing places you’ve been together or fun experiences you’ve shared. Add a message to the gift, such as, “Nothing is more important than the magical moments you’ve given my life. My 8-year old inner child forgot that today and I’m sorry.”
5. Make a donation to the other person’s favorite charity. Get a receipt of the donation, hand it to the other person and apologize by saying, “I’m sorry. I know better than anyone that actions speak louder than words, but that words hurt. I honor you, I value you and I want to better for us. I started today by putting you first and contributing to a cause near and dear to your heart. Because I know who you are, what you stand for and all I want to do is love and support you – I’m sorry I forgot this today. I hope you accept my apology and see this action as my attempt to move us back in the right direction.
Remember none of these apologies will work unless you get in a state of truly being sorry for your part in the situation.
Use the 2-step process I’ve shared and do something extraordinary to drive the point home. The beautiful thing about apologies – if they are sincere, you really only need two words “I’m sorry.”
But it’s always nice to do something extra. Take this as an opportunity to turn life’s lemons, and your humanity, into something transformational for the other person.
What unique apologies have you given or been moved by? I’d love for you to share them so others can start healing themselves and their relationships today.
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