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When To Apologize

Updated on June 21, 2023
I'm so dog-gone sorry.
I'm so dog-gone sorry.

Apologize, Me?

A long time ago, a movie called “Love Story” gave us a famous by-line. Of course, that was in 1970, light years ago for you younger readers. The line was: “Love means never having to say you're sorry”. It was romantic. It was Hollywood. But it was sincere and made sense back then. Today's culture is less forgiving. If you admit a wrong doing, it may lead to weaken or damage the relationship you have with the person you have wronged. It's this very real fear to damage that relationship that prevents us from saying “I’m sorry” in today's culture.

More than meets the eye...

There are some deeper internal motives for not saying "I'm sorry." Some recent studies have revealed that those of us who refuse to apologize do so because we get to keep our sense of being in control and feel better about themselves than those who do apologize. The studies suggest that when you apologize to someone, you convey a sense of power to that person because they can choose to forgive you or not!

In 2013, we saw that television personality and chef Paula Deen, was accused of using a racial slur. Deen admitted to that and apologized for it. Following her admission, the Food Network terminated her contract, and a number of major corporate sponsors ended their association with her. Regardless of whether the penalties were justified or not, the obvious conclusion is her admission and apology came along at a steep price.

Do the right thing.

Another possible benefit of not saying "I'm sorry" is saving face. Your feeling of pride will not allow you to "back down" and admit that you needed to say that you were sorry. Most everyone has felt it necessary to avoid feeling embarrassed, to maintain our dignity or keep our sense of superiority. Should it really be this difficult to determine what is the right thing to do? Not for me. I never felt that I was giving up my power or any other mystifying under-lying reason.

I have come to believe if your actions or words hurt somebody’s feelings, you should apologize. More times than not, we hurt the people that love us the most. It might be a good friend, a family member or your significant other. The reasons we hurt them range from intentional to in the heat of the moment, but usually happens when we are angry or want to retaliate against that person for some reason we feel is justified.

Then,after taking a moment to calm down, we think about what we said or did, how it affected the other person and decide if we should apologize. Do we say,“I’m sorry”, but not really mean it? Or do we sincerely apologize because we are remorseful over our actions and want to maintain the relationship.

What's meant by an apology?

It is more than knowing what to say. It is more than just repeating the old cliché tandem of "I'm sorry." It needs to be a way of your showing the other person that you are sincere and that you will not hurt them in that same way again. When you apologize to someone, shouldn't it be because you thought about how that person may have felt because of what you did or said?

An apology for me was my way of admitting I made a mistake. Either I was wrong or I ended up hurting someone's feelings. It was important to me that I acknowledged to that person how sorry I was for being so hurtful. I also want them to know that I would not let that same action take place again.

Forget about who was right or wrong. Does it really matter? Do not rehash what was already at the core of the problem. Don’t try to have the last word. Remember, "to err is human; to forgive divine.". I am reminded that time really does fly and life is truly short. Don't take each other for granted. How important would all this drivel be if today was your last day to be alive?


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