Three little words, just like I love You, which speak volumes and have the power to transform your relationships with other people including the relationship you have with yourself – I am sorry. However how many people use these words genuinely and with the intention that they were meant – to apologize sincerely for what they have done or said?
When we hurt someone or do something to offend another person or indeed ourselves, a simple yet heartfelt apology can undo damage caused. An apology lets the other person know that we are sorry for what ever it is that we have done and that we accept responsibility for our actions. It lets the other person know that we value them as a human being – that we understand that they get upset – we appreciate that we have upset them and are sorry.
Yet how many of us hand out apologies with little intention of a sincere apology? How many people apologize because they feel they ought to or that it might in some way be beneficial for them to apologize? How many of us use an apology as an means to lay blame at the other persons feet – ‘I’m sorry but you did……’?
A genuine apology should be just that – genuine. There should be no hidden agenda in it – the only agenda behind a sincere apology is to let the other person know that you are indeed very sorry for the pain that you have caused them and in apologizing you recognise your part – you accept that you are responsible for what you have done.
I had a very scary moment last week – I narrowly avoided a head-on collision with another car. My mind was elsewhere (looking for my son who hadn’t returned from school), the sun was in my eyes and before I realized it I was on the other side of the road with a car coming right at me! I pulled my car back over to the left as the other driver did the same. I was visibly shaken yet felt awful – the poor woman in the other car!
We had stopped almost side by side and I wound my window down and apologized straight away, confirming that the near miss was indeed all my fault (it was) and the first words out of her mouth were a barrage of expletives and insults. Now years ago I would have taken offence at this – how dare she speak to me like that when I have apologized? I could have retorted that to be honest it wasn’t my fault – not really – the sun had blinded me etc. I have witnessed many people withdrawing their apology and becoming defensive and aggressive when the other person has vented their hurt but why?
I now realize that the woman had a right to be angry with me – I had nearly caused an accident. I can now understand that she had a right to let off steam – I had nearly caused a crash! I could see she was visibly shaken and all I could do was let her know how sorry I was for the shock that I had caused her (unintentionally or otherwise) and I kept repeating ‘I am so sorry, it was all my fault’. In less than a minute the other driver had visibly relaxed – the wind knocked out of her sails so to speak by my continual apology.
Her final words to me where ‘well that’s ok, it’s just that I have recently had an accident and this really shook me up’. She had felt the need to offer me an explanation as to why she had reacted in the manner in which she had. She was happy that I had apologized and that she had vented her shock at me. The situation as far as she was concerned was resolved and off she went.
I was still shaken after the event however I felt a whole lot better for having accepted and apologized for what I had done. It could have been worse – I could have taken affront at her slating my apology – but I didn’t. I could have blamed the sun, the parked car etc. but I didn’t. My apology was sincere and I was determined to let her know it was. She seemed more than happy with my apology and for that I was just as happy. The last thing I had wanted to do was upset this poor woman any more.
So when we upset someone – either intentionally or unintentionally or – a heartfelt apology not only offers us a way of rectifying what we have done – it also helps both parties move on and feel better.If the other person can see that you are genuinely sorry they will more often than not accept your apology which is great because that means that you too can move on too. We are all responsible for every action or word we say – so own that and if you offend others – accept that and apologize sincerely.
Life would be a better place if we saw the true value of a sincere apology – we are not always 100% to blame for problems however we can accept 100% responsibility for our share in them and apologize – and who knows – you may actually feel better for doing so. In the long term – if you learn to accept responsibility and apologize you carry around less guilt – and that has to be good doesn’t it?
So start using these three little words and see how differently the world and it’s inhabitants respond to you. Words have to power to heal – so heal your relationships, your life and this world!
I love you.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.