4 Steps to Apologizing and Forgiving

A true apology should always be sincere and from the heart. It’s an admission and a full acceptance of any wrongdoing and harm you may have caused another. People don't always apologize, for some, “sorry” seems like a forbidden word. We don't always get the apology that we seek and feel we deserve. In those instances, we need to rely on our own inner strength and emotional intelligence to heal. On the flip side, we can often feel a sense of guilt and burden when we know we have made a mistake and wronged someone. Guilt is a wasteful energy, when you say sorry it also allows you to free yourself from the weight of any remorse and anxiety that you hold within you.

The importance of saying sorry

Making a true apology opens up the space for a mutual exchange and growth from whatever occurred for both sides. This should happen as soon as possible to prevent resentment can building up. It is empowering to both give and receive an apology. Apologizing is the first step to being accountable, showing compassion, and making things right. So how can you take steps to genuinely apologize?

1. Speak from your heart 

A genuine apology comes from your heart first and foremost. Acknowledge and accept the full responsibility for hurting someone else. If the other person feels wounded, then you must apologize and mean it. A face to face apology allows for eye contact and signifies a more real way to deliver an apology and encourage an open and emotional connection. When you express yourself authentically it shows a willingness to want to communicate, provide a resolution, and make amends.

2. Do not shift blame or try to make excuses

Blaming someone or something else does not form a solid apology; it means you are saying sorry with one foot out the back door. You can’t properly apologize without authenticity to your words. Avoid the immature 'buts' and 'because’. Put yourself in the other person’s place and show some integrity, empathy and understanding. A half apology is no substitute. The person will see right through you.

3. Actions speak louder than words

Repeatedly hurting someone and saying sorry signifies that your actions do not equate to the needs of the other person. Words run frigid and empty without the right actions to anchor them. Continued 'sorry’s' become diluted and meaningless in their repetition. Often, the best apology is changed behavior. Make sure your conduct matches your words by making promises you can keep. Trust is built upon your deeds and how you actually follow through with what you say.

4. Forgiveness and healing

Forgiveness is a deep strength. When you forgive someone or someone forgives you, it is not because they are suddenly OK with what occurred, it means that they make a choice not to dwell on the pain. It is a decision to allow healing to take place, to be free from any bitterness and harmful energy. If someone has forgiven you, try to understand the strength of what that forgiveness took and show your gratitude. If they can't forgive you right away, show grace and understanding and allow them time and space to regenerate and heal. Hurt people very often hurt other people; we all need time to filter through emotions so we don’t continue the cycle of inner bruising from past pain. Be patient with your emotions, absorb and reflect upon them.

The important thing to remember is that we all make mistakes, but you ultimately make the choice to elevate from them. Maturely setting things straight helps to clear any lingering hurtful energy. Forgiveness draws a line underneath what happened and paves a path to move forward. 

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them”- Bruce Lee

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