Do you know how to apologize?
Knowing how to apologize is a fundamental communication skill. No one teaches you how to apologize. And if you’re from a Caribbean household, caretakers rarely, if ever apologize. So, there’s no one to model after.
Well, how do you learn this skill? Usually, you don’t unless you make a concerted effort. But you’ll know it’s an issue in your relationships when you’re in constant conflict, usually, regarding a behavior you promised to change but haven’t.
Why is apologizing so hard? It’s hard because most of the time, you think it’s them and not you.
Well, first, apologizing requires immense vulnerability and accountability. It’s easy to shift the blame to someone else because the hardest thing you can do is look in the mirror.
Second, saying sorry is hard because, in your mind, you believe if you say sorry, then your needs won’t be met. It means that the other person will neglect what happened to you and how you feel.
So this results in each person fighting for territory. They find themselves defending their position, but what they are defending is their pain. Fighting for territory sounds similar to military-like behavior as if you are preparing for war. Apologizing means you have to admit you have a flaw, that there are still more of you to heal.
That’s scary to admit.
But apologizing means, you’re both heard, seen, and loved. Relationships aren’t battlegrounds. You have to resist to defend. Resist saying, “I’m sorry, but…” You have to resist highlighting the other person’s faults. Apologize, without having to explain yourself.
Although the concept of apologizing is simple, it takes practice. And if you want your relationship to survive, then an apology has to come with a changed behavior.
Here are three ways to get you started in strengthening your apology, which will inevitably enhance your relationships:
- Admit your mistake.
- Share what you’ll do differently moving forward.
Remember, when someone approaches you about something you did (hopefully the approach was respectable and kind), remember, this person has reached out to you because they care about the relationship. This is a show of effort that says, “I value what we have and want it to be rooted in love.”
Silence is the first step you can take. Then listen. Resist the armor that wants to protect you because this is the bridge to intimacy. So, when you find yourself in conflict, and you have to apologize, remember to tell yourself, this isn’t war.
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