The Only Apology is Changed Attitudes, Behaviour and Better Choices.
‘I’m sorry then.’ spat out of her mouth like a sour apple. And rotten it was. The words were full of guilt, shame and spite. With adrenalin pumping through her veins, the need for her to be right in the moment she was wrong, was greater than the respect or kindness that was deserved.
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Saying ‘sorry’ or apologising in the moments after deliberate and intentional harm is not enough. Hurt people Hurt people and the point of recovery from pain sits on a lineal spectrum with words than can not be taken back and vertically on the actions, inactions and behaviour that caused the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual pain threshold to be broken.
- Do not walk away.
You may need to so you can calm down. But you need to return and sit in the uncomfortable space that was co-created. If you can’t stay, tell them you will be back to resolve it and you need some time to think about the appropriate words to use. Helping to resolve the pain you have caused tells the other person you care and shows you are genuinely remorseful for the pain you intentional caused.
2. Share your pain first.
An apology is a process. Your projected revenge and intention to hurt someone comes from a place within you and has nothing to do with what the other person did. It might be part of a vicious cycle you have co-created with your assumptions and expectations. Explain your pain source, not what they did to make you hurt them. Use the words that express regret, responsibility, and remedy. Your intention to harm someone with words or actions comes from your interpretation ore experience. It is not an excuse but an explanation of the sensitivity you have. Jealously, fear, abandonment or feeling inadequate is a core belief that recycles through your mind when outcomes are challenged or assumptions and expectations are not met. Others can not read your mind and if you have not been honest about your own pain, you can not expect others to know.
3. Own up to the intention.
The way we treat others is the way we have learnt or been taught and more importantly the way we have taught others to treat us. Acknowledge your responsibility in causing their hurt. “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” or “I’m sorry that my actions upset you” express responsibility for the hurt you caused, and don’t come across as blaming the other person. Using ‘I’ acknowledges this responsibility. ‘I hurt you because I am hurt, resentful, angry, frustrated, upset, confused, sad……….’, Saying you are ‘sorry you’re feeling were hurt’ is common but ineffective as it places the responsibility back onto the person that is hurt and fuels the cycle of intentional pain and rejects the part you played and the poor choice you made.
4. Validate the pain.
Observe the mood change in the other person. Feel the distance you have created. Understand the impact it has had on their self esteem, self worth and confidence. A sense of mistrust may be present. The human experience is about riding the waves of emotion that comes with every breathe, new day and season. Whilst it may not be your perspective, what the other person is feeling is a direct result of their past experiences, the meanings they have attached to words and actions and the importance you play in their life. Avoid justifying at all costs, be kind and absorb the ricique of hurt that might explode like a firework. Avoid minimising the impact with an understanding statement like ‘I can’t imagine what you are going through but I can see I have hurt you. I’m sorry.”
You are likely to receive forgiveness when you acknowledge your intention and accept the impact. If you offer excuses in combination with accepting responsibility, acknowledging the hurt, recognizing the proper behaviour, and ensuring proper behaviour in the future, forgiveness is a gift that defuses resentment.
5. Accept feedback.
This is the most important point in an apology and the opportunity to stop the cycle of hurt. Accepting that values and rights have been violated, rules broken and entitlements denied are the elements to expressing the empathy needed to repair the trust. The current hurt is a trigger to bring up past resentments. ‘But you did this’ and a myriad of other unrelated events only aim to justify the intentional harm and there lies the cycle. Don’t buy into it again. Find the strength to absorb the consequences, resist perpetuating the pain and promise to deal with resentment, fear and hurt in a constructive way with someone else who can help you approach.
If you would like to know more details or the step by step guide to effective apologising that heals the hurt click here