All I Want For Christmas Is An Apology!

When you forgive, you free your soul. But when you say I’m sorry, you free two souls. Donald L. Hicks, author

When families gather for the holidays, misunderstandings and angry words often mar the joy. If someone you care about tramples on your feelings, here are a couple of tips to help you elicit an apology or move on. 

—Sometimes a rupture is caused by miscommunication or misunderstandings that can be clarified. Ask for clarity.

—Consider writing a letter expressing your feelings about what she/he said. Perhaps this person is unaware of the pain she caused you. In the letter tell her what you would like to hear in the way of an apology and what she can do to make amends. Everyone has their own “apology language” and it’s helpful to let others know what works for you. 

—If the offensive words or action were completely out of the ordinary, you might consider this a one time lapse and wipe the slate clean.

—Try viewing the unkindness as a mystery. Ask yourself, “I wonder what was going on in this person’s life that temporarily derailed her?” As you do this, consider this story—A commuter was enraged when a woman in an SUV stopped abruptly to get something in the back seat, almost causing an accident. He didn’t know the driver’s infant was choking. 

—Wonder if this person can’t apologize because she has such deep feelings of low self-worth that her fragile ego can’t absorb the blow of admitting she was wrong. If you suspect this is true, tap into your empathy and compassion. Remind yourself that beneath her stubborn exterior, she’s incredibly vulnerable.

I’m sure some of these suggestions won’t resonate with your particular situation but, as a Life Coach, we’re trained to help you “throw spaghetti against a wall and see what sticks.” Yep, I actually heard that phrase in my coach training and it has been a useful tool in helping clients solve problems.

Affirmation: I will metaphorically throw spaghetti and get to the bottom of my angry feelings and quest for an apology. 

Coaching questions: If you’re looking for an apology and haven’t received it, what tip will you use to help you find closure? What’s your apology language? What do you want to hear and how do you express regret?

Photo by Krista Stucchio on Unsplash

Find the Courage to Say I’m Sorry

I’m sorry are the two most healing words one person can say to another. Harriet Lerner, PhD, psychologist and relationship expert.

A sincere, heart-felt apology is not only a gift to the person we offended, it is a gift to ourselves. I’m wondering, however, If it’s such a great thing for all concerned, why is it so difficult to convey? It’s not easy. An apology is an acknowledgement of harm and an admission of responsibility. In order to apologize, we have to come to terms with our errors and misjudgments. 

“It’s challenging to see ourselves capable of hurting other people’s feelings,” says Tamar Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want. “And yet, we all make mistakes.” Dr. Chansky goes on to explain that even when we’ve wronged a person, our stubborn refusal rewards us by boosting our sense of control and self-worth. Those feel-good benefits often prevent us from making a gesture of remorse.” 

In my experience, deciding whether or not to apologize depends on how much I value the relationship. Do the benefits of an apology outweigh the humility required? My answer is usually, “Yes.”

Affirmation: I can say, “I’m sorry.”

Coaching questions: Is there anyone to whom you need to apologize? Is it worth it? If not, why not? Who needs to apologize to you? How is this lack of acknowledgement of wrong-doing making you feel?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash