6/31 – Apologize like an Adult

An apology is a very emotional mature state of development that I feel not many people are at. I don’t want to say I’m the best at it, but I try my best and I expect that of others. I make sure I teach my 5 and 9 year old nieces and 11 year old nephew to practice how to apologize to each other.

Often times, other people say it better. And so I want to relate some of advice from other websites that reflect my thoughts on apologizing. I’ll follow up on some of the emphasized idea after.

  • From Time
    1. You cannot put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Don’t even try.
    2. Apologize for what you did.
      • None of this, “I’m sorry if you are offended” bs. No, “I’m sorry if you took it that way.” An apology is, “I did ____ and it caused _____. I’m sorry.” If you can’t figure out what you did that hurt someone, you should either try harder or just be honest and admit that you don’t care.
    3. If you are sorry, think of what you will do to fix the situation or prevent it from happening again.
    4. No “but”s
    5. Remember that forgiveness isn’t part of the deal.
      • The person you wronged doesn’t owe you anything. They don’t have to hear you. They don’t have to forgive you. They don’t have to like you. You can apologize and they can say, “Screw you, I don’t want to hear it. You are a terrible person.”
      • And you know what? That’s fine. They don’t have to hear it. And you were a terrible person — to them. They are allowed to think that. Forever. Nobody owes you friendship. Nobody owes you forgiveness. And if you grovel every day and somebody says, “Nope, don’t forgive you,” that’s fine, too. It doesn’t mean you have to grovel forever, but their refusal to forgive is not an offense against you. You did the wrong thing. So long as they aren’t violating your rights or looking to harm you or people you care about in retaliation, they are allowed to despise you and it doesn’t make your apology any less necessary.
  • From Gen Twenty
    1. Don’t make excuses
      • Is it okay to explain why you made the mistake? Sure. But make sure you phrase it as exactly that: an explanation. An explanation goes something like this… “I did A and forgot B. It’s not an excuse for my mistake, but it explains why it happened.”
    2. Actually apologize – but only once
      • Apologizing more than once often comes off as begging for forgiveness. Also, saying “I’m so sorry, I really am. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I apologize,” sounds brown nosing.
    3. Make it better
    4. Forgiveness does not equal forgetting
      • Your boss has no obligation to forgive you, but theyespecially don’t have any obligation to forget. Making a mistake breaks trust and, like it is with friends, trust must be earned and rebuilt when it’s broken.
    5. Don’t make it about you
    6. Foll0w up
  • And a more substantial view on meaningful vs meaningless apologies at Luke 17:3 Ministries.
    • Meaningless apologies are given for the purpose of benefiting the offender in some way instead of helping the victim to feel better

If you’ve been following the last week, you’ve read many examples of apologies and forgiveness. I’ve apologized to my wife, to my brother, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a perfect person. This series is about my growth, what I’ve learned and what I haven’t. I’m still growing, and I know there are areas of my life I’m not proud of, and areas I need be where I’m not.

I’ve never apologized to my father for my bad behaviors. Whether I was in the right or wrong, I shouldn’t just disrespect him. I’m still growing up and asking for forgiveness and apologizing is difficult. I know I need to. Life is short. Maybe it’s the language I want to get right. Maybe it’s because I expect him to change and I’m afraid he won’t. Maybe I want him to take the initiative? Maybe I am afraid of something else that I haven’t thought about yet.  But… maybe I’m making this more about me, and it shouldn’t be.

So here’s the follow up. I still need to learn to internalize these aspects of apologizing. I treat my friends better than I treat my father… In the words of M Fly who drove back in time to become buds with his father, “that’s heavy.”


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