We are taught from a very early age to apologize. When we do something wrong, our parents turn us around and send us to the one we have hurt and admonish us to, 'go and apologize to him/her for what you did.' With our eyes to the ground, and with as few words and as quickly as possible, we blurt out the required sentence. We did it- we're done. Is it any wonder that this social politeness is ineffective in restoring relationships and healing woundedness?
Frequently, we state those dreaded words only when we get caught! Thus the wounded party has a difficult time granting true forgiveness. How can someone know your heart? Are you apologizing because you are sincerely sorry or because you were caught? If the focus is on getting off the hook, and this is obvious to the offended person, there is a lack of peace for either party.
With 20 years of counseling experience we can pass along the steps that can help facilitate a more effective apology.
We are told in the scriptures that godly sorrow leads to repentance. Assuming we are sorrowful and desire to apologize, here are the steps we have identified as necessary for a heartfelt apology.
An apology must include a sincere statement of:
This can be a difficult change to make in our way of relating to the people we love. It means taking responsibility and not trying to minimize the hurt we have caused. It takes the strength to admit you were wrong and the desire to have a better than average relationship. Do not expect to get it all right the first time. Real change takes time and commitment to trying.
To incorporate this into your everyday life you may need some professional guidance to develop this skill or habit. We can help cement good habits and encourage you during the process of change.
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