How To Apologize: Mastering The Language Of Apologies

That habit of protecting yourself first, defending yourself first can keep us from apologizing, focused on that defense instead.

There are language shifts that make a huge difference in how we think about and do apologies.

Because those words have power, sometimes saying, “I’m sorry that what I said hurt you,” can feel like we’re taking the blame when we’re simply taking responsibility and making space for the truth of someone else’s experience.

When we are apologizing, the problem doesn’t suddenly disappear, which is likely what your inner child wants.

When we can find our way to see and hear the other person’s truth, their experience of the truth, and to put aside whether we agree with it, but rather just to say they are hurting, we can open up lines of communication and can come together in the mutual task of strengthening our relationships.

Ask yourself, what have they told me? What is true for them? Remember, seek to understand and then to be understood before you apologize.

It’s so common to attempt to deflect, often unconsciously for sure, from having done something harmful by talking about our intention, not the impact of what we did, said, or didn’t do or say that we promised to do.

Furthermore, you could have said or done something with an open heart, with what feels like love for you in your body, based on your history and experience, but that doesn’t mean that it necessarily or objectively would feel that way to another person.

With this in mind, I would encourage you to consider starting your next apology with, “Thank you.” It’s quite a shift from what we were taught as kids or see modeled for us as adults about how to apologize.

So after you have thanked the other person, either for their willingness to share or whatever else they’ve brought you as discussed previously, I would invite you to use the phrase, “I’d like to apologize,” or, “I want to apologize.” Rather than the oft used and worn out, “I’m sorry.”

By contrast, when we say that we want to apologize, we highlight for ourselves our courage and power and that we’re owning it.

Remember that shame plus fear equals perfectionism.



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Victoria Albina, NP, MPH

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH is a certified life coach, breathwork facilitator, holistic Nurse Practitioner and host of the podcast Feminist Wellness.