Why is it so difficult to apologize? To say “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I’m sorry that I hurt or misled you.” When we bump into someone on a crowded street, it’s easy to say, “I’m sorry,” for there’s not too much to lose.
But when our words or actions have hurt and offended someone, pride, embarrassment and shame can easily prevent us from making an apology. I’ve caught myself walking away instead of owning up to my careless words or behavior. I’ve even resented and judged the other person to protect my need to be right. Or should I say, to be right at all costs.
Leaders in the public arena often fear that exposure of an apology might result in poor press, loss of reputation, title or position. They avoid apologizing to guard their fragile ego, to look powerful, in charge and in control. When it becomes habitual they become dangerous. Why? Because their integrity is damaged and their internal compass is broken. Not the ideal place for a leader to operate from.
One of the most powerful acts we can do is to offer a sincere apology for it’s the beginning of forgiving ourselves. It’s the start of letting go of guilt, anger, resentment and even depression. If we can’t go back to speak to the person, our sincere intentions will begin the healing process. It will positively affect every aspect of our being – physically, emotionally and mentally.
We may long for the other person to forgive us and if they do that’s good, but that is their decision, their choice. That is their healing – not ours. The question to ask yourself is: Can you forgive another – even if they haven’t given you an apology? If so, that is your healing.
A sincere apology is humbling and powerful as it touches the core of our humanity and is deeply felt. If you’ve been carrying the burden of not apologizing, find the courage to act and free yourself from the bondage of your past. Finally, as you move forward, let your actions reflect the sincerity of your apology.
“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.”
~ Tyron Edwards, American theologian
Image by Femke Ongena