An apology is one of the first things we were taught as children whenever we did something wrong, even when we are unsure whether what we did was wrong. Saying sorry seemed enough to fix everything back then. Did you ever stop and wonder what an apology really means?
Someone told me once that sorry doesn’t really mean anything to them. At first, I thought that was a bit too harsh, but now that I think about it, I can understand where the person is coming from. Sorry just seems to have lost its meaning and effect in the present times. Maybe we put in too much effort in saying sorry but never actually learn anything from the mistake.
It seems as if we are saying sorry not for the wrong action we did, but more for the reaction from other people. We apologised because other people didn’t respond to the way we expected them to. We apologised not to make other people feel better but to make us feel better so that we can get rid of our guilt. We slip in some excuse for our actions in our apology to justify our mistake. In this case, doesn’t it seem like an apology sounds like a declaration made out of selfishness?
So, it got me thinking what really makes an apology… you know… an apology?
If an apology is done correctly and effectively, it can be a powerful thing. It may allow others to have a positive perception of who we are as a person. People seem to always associate apology with admitting mistakes. Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way. An apology shouldn’t be just associated with mistakes. Sometimes, it’s not a way for us to admit our mistakes but rather taking responsibility and facing the consequences of our actions.
But, do we actually know what we are apologising for when we say sorry?
I have a friend who used to say sorry all the time, but when I asked her what exactly she was sorry for, she can’t seem to answer. Knowing what to apologise for is just as important. We need to know what exactly it is that we are apologising for because then there will be no meaning to the apology. It’ll just be unnecessary.
It’s good to admit our mistakes, but sometimes there are things that we shouldn’t have to apologise for. For example, if you believe in something and it offends other people, would you apologise if they demand it from you? Society shapes us to think that whenever we hurt or offend someone, we should apologise. What if we were not intentionally rude and we just have different opinions from others? I don’t think anyone should have to apologise for their opinions because everyone has different opinions anyway. An apology wouldn’t make you change what you believe in.
Another thing that I notice is that when we apologise, we seem to focus on seeking forgiveness more than regretting what we did. Forgiveness shouldn’t be easily expected just by apologising. The best kind of apology is showing how sorry you really are and how much you wanted to fix things. Whether you are forgiven or not shouldn’t play a part in your apology, forgiveness is out of our control anyway. It should be earned by showing regret in what we did wrong and putting in the effort to fix our mistake.
We should be more conscious of things like this when apologising. We shouldn’t apologise if we don’t mean it.