When To Say You’re Sorry

On occasion, you lead yourself astray by saying or doing something that is unacceptably hurtful. It is human nature to make mistakes. When is it appropriate to express your regret for upsetting someone’s feelings? Undoubtedly, while you can’t go back and undo or redo the  past, you can take action to repair the harm you caused.

The ideal approach in most situations is to respond in a good positive manner. There are times, though, that you may feel stressed, insecure, overwhelmed, or conflicted and because of this, without realizing you enter into a reactive mode. Unfortunately, in that moment, you speak sharply in a defensive or insulting manner. Your unstable reaction becomes exaggerated and it results in a frustrating aftermath not only for you, but also, for the recipient.

While your intention may not have been to hurt this person on purpose, you recognize that your action nevertheless did hurt or inconvenience them. Without too much delay, if you genuinely feel bad, this regret needs to be communicated. In order to regain your equilibrium you need to deal with your lapse of carelessness.

It has nothing to do with right or wrong but with how you made a person feel. Hurtful feelings need to be respected and validated, especially, if you care about the other person. An apology simply means that you made someone feel bad with your words or actions and you are sorry about that.

One mistake or lapse of reasoning does not define who you are as a person. It’s normal to get caught-up in the moment. Be willing to take responsibility for your unkind or spiteful words, and then make amends. Most people appreciate a genuine apology. It lessens the sting of the offense, and it builds a bridge toward the future.

An apology has a healing nature and is the wish to create peace again. An expression of regret is the first step toward reconciliation. A sincere and honest apology attempts to repair the wrong, and is a request for acceptance and forgiveness.

After you say you are sorry, the other person’s feelings are in their own hands. People with a pessimistic outlook on life can remain disappointed or angry longer than others. Dr. Steve Maraboli, a Behavioral Science Academic, author and speaker stated, “It is as though they are holding their own breath and then blaming others for their inability to breathe.” So, be patient. It is their responsibility to choose how they deal with their thoughts and actions in response to you, or any other aspect of their life.

If you did your part in respecting them by apologizing, that alone lifts the weight from your distress, and you no longer need to keep revisiting the issue. You can allow yourself to move forward with patience, the willingness to sometimes make a mistake, and being true to yourself in creating a life that feels good.