An apology is an acknowledgement that we caused harm, discomfort, or inconvenience to someone. It is an opportunity to resolve our interpersonal conflicts and interactions. A genuine apology can almost immediately clear anger, ill-feelings, and even solve some measure of distrust. Saying “sorry” is something most children are taught and learn, and should be easy enough for adults to do; but apologising seems to be incredibly difficult for some people.
There is a great deal of fear associated with apologising.
- An apology means we admit and take responsibility for our actions and deeds. It is an admission of guilt, and in so doing, we are also saying we will accept any resultant punishment. It requires a degree of personal responsibility; and not everyone is mature enough or they may have other emotional and psychological issues preventing them from it.
- An apology opens us up for blame and can be used against us to our detriment. This is a fear that is not all that unreasonable. Especially in relationships where things are confrontational, admitting wrong-doing can become a weakness and can be used for emotional or psychological manipulation.
- An apology may make other people dislike us or judge us more negatively. Nobody wants their friends, family, and colleagues to dislike them or see them in a negative light. Admitting guilt opens us up to a possibility of our peers looking down, blaming us, and judging us.
An inability to be forthcoming with an apology can end friendships, strain relationships, and cause long-term resentment and distrust. The ability to apologise allows resolution and possible closure to interpersonal issues. It allows the person to open themselves up for forgiveness and gives them a way to constructively move forward, emotionally.
There’s always someone we all know who lacks the ability to apologise. Maybe we are the ones with the issue. At the end of the day, we hold ourselves and others back when we refuse or don’t understand why we should apologise. Our own happiness and the quality of our relationships can depend a great deal on this.
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