Many of us know we need to apologize, but yet we struggle with knowing how to say sorry. What do we do when our apology seems so small in the face of what we have done? No matter how large or small our infraction is, it’s in our best interests to apologize, and get it off our chests. I’ve stated before that the first person you need to forgive is yourself, but you also need to ask forgiveness from the person you have harmed, either with your words or actions. The wounded person has the right to refuse to talk with you, but it’s also in their best interests to hear your words of apology. Your words need to ring true, and you need to take responsibility for your actions.
There are three important statements that you need to say when you apologize.
- I’m sorry
- I was wrong
- Please forgive me
It is important to say sorry. You need to acknowledge that you have caused hurt by your words or actions. You should never apologize simply because you were caught, and you’re hoping to deflect anger. You should only apologize if you are truly sorry for your actions, and are repentant. Otherwise, you are lying to yourself, and lying to another person, which creates an even worse situation. Trust is so incredibly important, and if you want someone to believe you, and the words that come out of your mouth, then you need to tell the truth. Besides, people can tell if you’re being authentic or not, so don’t let your apology ring hollow. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
ADMIT YOU WERE WRONG
Admitting you are wrong is so important, because anyone can throw out a half-hearted apology. Ever heard a “sorry” from one child to another child when they are forced by their parents or an adult to apologize? You can hear by their tone of voice (and usually body language) that they aren’t sorry at all. You can’t force someone to apologize. They have to be sorry, and want to apologize for it to be real. Everyone needs to own up to their mistake(s) and just admit it, and take responsibility for their actions. When you acknowledge you were wrong, the other person will know that your apology is real. You can actually hurt someone even more by not admitting you were at fault. Some people cannot admit they are wrong. I personally know someone who thinks they are always right, and never admits it when they are wrong, even when proven wrong. That just means they have too much pride. Well, guess what. In order to apologize you need to kick your pride to the curb. Seriously. Just admit it. If you are stuck in this situation too, practice saying it in the mirror to yourself. “I was wrong.” Keep trying. Keep going until you are able to admit you were wrong. I realize that it’s a struggle for some people, I totally get it. But you will never be able to have proper relationships with ANYBODY if you can’t admit you were wrong. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to make mistakes. Don’t let your ego stay on top of Mt. Everest, let it fall down.
ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
Asking for forgiveness is a very important step, because it means you realize your behavior was wrong, and you are making an effort to change it, so that it won’t happen again in the future. Asking for forgiveness means you are truly repentant, and you are doing the right thing by trying to make amends. Even if the person decides not to forgive you, you are released from having to ask again. Your guilt is gone, you have done the right thing. All you can do is move on. You do not have to keep saying sorry every time you see that person. Once is enough. Don’t beat yourself up if they don’t accept it. It’s nothing to do with you anymore. Every person is allowed to have their own thoughts and opinions, and it’s their right to stay angry or forgive. Just because you ask doesn’t mean they have to accept. All you have to do is be WILLING to ask, and mean it.
NEVER WITHOLD FORGIVENESS
If you are ever offered an apology, it is in YOUR best interests to accept it. Anger is poison, and the longer you carry it, the heavier it gets. Each day you add to your poison bottle by refusing to forgive. One day that jar will break, and it will be YOU that has been poisoned, not the person who has hurt you. You do need to let go of the offence, and choose to forgive the person. It doesn’t mean your relationship is automatically restored, far from it. In fact, you don’t even have to have a relationship with them ever again if you choose not to. The point is – staying angry is foolish, as it will only harm YOU. Release yourself from the weight and pain of anger. Choose to move on with your life, and not let someone else’s mistake define who you are, or what you do, or what you think.
ANGER IS POISON
You cannot live a good life if you are busy packing around anger. Imagine every slight and offence that has ever happened to you as a bottle of poison attached to your body under your coat. Every time someone offends or hurts you, you add another bottle. Every time you talk about a specific offence, it adds more poison to that bottle. Some fill up faster than others. Every single day you might add one, two, or possibly three bottles more, it could be from a family member, or a co-worker, or your neighbor who keeps parking in front of your house. Can you imagine how many bottles you would have attached to yourself, and how heavy they would be at the end of one week? One month? One year? FIVE years? TWENTY YEARS? If any of those bottles broke, you would drown. Well, guess what. They don’t have to break to drown you. They are already too heavy for you, emotionally. Anger is draining. To stay angry for years will deprive you of life and joy. It will suck the life right out of you. Get rid of all those bottles you are carrying around today. Empty them out and throw them away by choosing to forgive. Make a list of all those who have offended you, and one at a time, pray and release forgiveness to each one of them.
HOW TO ASK FORGIVENESS SUMMARY
To sincerely apologize, all you need to do is remember three statements:
- I’m sorry (Are you sorry? Don’t say it unless you mean it)
- I was wrong (This is important, and needs to accompany your apology)
- Please forgive me (Even if they say no, you have asked)
PRAYER FOR EMPTYING YOUR BOTTLES OF POISON:
Today I choose to forgive ______________ for hurting me. I am choosing today to let go of the pain they caused me, even though I struggle with my feelings of anger towards them. I am choosing to let go of my anger, and I’m choosing to dump out that poison.
Today I choose to forgive ___________ even if they never say sorry to my face, or ask for my forgiveness. I want to live a healthy and happy life, so I am choosing not let this offence define my words or actions.
Today I choose to forgive ___________ once and for all, and I choose not to gossip, slander, or complain about this offence to anyone again. It’s over with, done, finished.
Today I choose to move on with my life.
Today I choose to live my life without carrying around bottles of poison filled with anger and revenge.
Today I choose to forgive, to forget, and to love.