This is a tough one. It is a delicate subject. To come and think of it, apologizing is only delicate to those who don’t know how to apologize or don’t see the need to do so. I have this feeling that few people feel the need to apologize and even fewer know how to apologize. I believe it goes back to how and where you were raised. As I remember it, no one taught me how to apologize. I had to learn by myself. You know what that means? Well, it simply means I messed up about a million apologies. The Gods only know how many times I should have apologized but I didn’t or how many times my apology was hollow or sounded forced and ridiculously insincere.
The question is why do we apologize? I believe we do so because we realize we made a mistake. We did something wrong. We hurt somebody or somebody’s feelings. We were inadequate, whether intentionally or unintentionally. When I was growing up, I remember apologizing being a weakness, especially if it involved an adult having to apologize to a child or anyone younger. The adult was always right, even when they were wrong. It was quite a pitiful sight to see someone refusing to apologize. It does make me angry to this day.
It is hard for me to deal with people who cannot or maybe will not apologize. It goes against every fiber of my being to sit down with people filled with pride and who always think they are right and/or who act all righteous. Truth be told, I also have a hard time dealing with people who apologize all the time. It shows a desire to be liked or someone with low self esteem. At least, both are fixable because pride is always a huge obstacle to getting better.
However, before I forget, I must point out one thing: if you don’t apologize because you don’t believe you made a mistake, that’s fine and I support your decision. I make many jokes about religion and I will never apologize for any of them, they’re just jokes. Moreover, if your faith is shaken by a joke I made, then your faith wasn’t that strong to begin with, just sayin’…
Yet, if a person explains to you how you messed up by hurting them specifically, and you still refuse to apologize, then, my brain shuts down and I can’t deal with you. One could argue I am a hypocrite for saying I won’t apologize for religion jokes. Well, religion doesn’t belong to anyone in particular and it is open to all kinds of criticism. Religion has no owners, just believers. It is a movement, that is all.
Nevertheless, if I come at you, insulting you and humiliating you or by saying something hurtful to you, knowingly or not, then I must apologize. If I attack you for no reason and proceed to tear you into pieces for my own amusement, then I am an asshole. It would be time to check my ego and humanity.
Now, I must remind everyone sensitivities are a gray area. Whatever might hurt me could very well not hurt another person. Is it a case by case policy? Perhaps. But most of us can agree there are basic things that aren’t right. Namely insulting, hurting physically, humiliate another person, disrespecting, bullying and so on. The list can be long. If someone acts in a derogatory, insulting, or humiliating way towards another human being, they must apologize.
Apologizing is recognizing your faults, it is about being humble and accept you don’t know everything, and your behaviour affects others, and not in a way you think. Your actions can be harmful to others, they can make a person uncomfortable, and so on. It is up to you to gage when to apologize or not. Once again, I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE WHO NEVER APOLOGIZE. It makes no sense. We all make mistakes. There is at least an instance where WE ALL had to apologize. Acting like that is never the case, well, that is pure lunacy.
Apologizing can be the right thing to do. Yet, I would always suggest explaining yourself before apologizing. Words can be misinterpreted. So, take some time to explain yourself, what you meant by your statement, and see what happens. We don’t always want to hurt people intentionally, sometimes, it just happens. Like I said, sensitivities vary.
If something went wrong, take the time to explain how it affected you and you can ask for an apology. The person you are demanding the apology from must tell you their side of the story too. Perhaps you won’t see things eye to eye, but you owe them the courtesy of listening to them and let them present their case. Hopefully, you’ll get to an understanding and the relationship will get better, or maybe it will not. But at least, you would have said your piece.
Don’t be afraid of apologizing if you messed up. No one is perfect. We all mess up. Put your pride on the side, take a deep breath and apologize. You won’t be weak, nor will you be humiliated no matter what society says. By apologizing, you would have acted like a decent human being. People will respect you more, not less. I am not advocating to apologize all the time so one can avoid conflict. You don’t have to do that. Just remember that apologizing when you are wrong, will make you a better human being and you will gain in confidence. I know it sounds crazy but there is a nobility and a strength in apologizing. It is a great opportunity to learn you are not infallible. You can and will make mistakes.
By apologizing, you will have won another battle in this life, you would have triumphed against the worst impulses of pride and stubbornness. The ego will stay in check. Apologize and you will understand what humility feels like.
One last thing: apologizing is an ACTIVE PROCESS. Please do not be like those politicians or artists on social media who start with a “I AM SORRY IF I HURT SOMEONE”. There is no “if” needed when an apology is sincere and devoid of ego! You hurt someone, that is why you are apologizing. If you don’t believe in your apology, do not waste your time with a half ass, insincere apology. Stand your ground, do not apologize. It is fine.
But if you do apologize, be active in your apology, do not run away from it, do not hide from it. You messed up. It happens. I understand you can feel shame and remorse. That is fine too, it means you are not a sociopath which is good news! Take your time. Internalize everything, think it over, swallow your pride, and proceed with your apology.
When you understood you have hurt someone, just simply say “I am sorry I hurt you by doing this/that”. Say what you did and apologize. That’s it and move on. Apologies don’t have to last 48 hours.
One last thing, the last one, I promise: some people wait to hear an acknowledgment from the person they hurt. Well, it will come or not. That is on them. You apologized; you did the right and noble thing. Your conscience should be ok, if not clear.
The forgiving part is up to them, not you.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now smile and go on with your day!