Everyone has their way of saying sorry and sometimes we have to use different ways so our apology is meaningful.
Sometimes, saying sorry can be the hardest thing to do but apologizing is not just about fixing the situation. It's about feeling the emotion from the bottom of our hearts. After all, an apology counts only when it is meaningful. The person we are apologizing to needs to feel that they were heard and that we understand what hurt them in the first place.
"Learning to apologize is a life skill that will make all of your relationships more authentic," says Dr. Gary Chapman, pastor and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants Inc., and the primary author (with Jennifer Thomas) of The Five Languages of Apology, according to PairedLife. Just like there are five languages of love, there are five for apologizing too. When we want to say sorry for something we have done that has hurt someone, how we do it falls into these five categories. No one way is better than the other, it is simply about what we prefer to use.
Here are the five apology languages we tend to use:
When we say "I'm sorry" it expresses that we regret doing the thing that hurt someone. It's an acknowledgment that a mistake has been made. The one apologizing focusses on the emotional hurt so when you say a genuine "I'm sorry" it goes a long way. The person wants to express their regret and shame for causing you pain even if it was inadvertent. The emotion behind that sorry says that "I feel awful about what I've done," according to quickanddirtytips.
When you want to apologize by owning up to your mistakes you can say "I was wrong" or "I made a mistake," according to PairedLife. Through this language, the person who made a mistake apologizes to admit their wrongdoing and accepts responsibility for it. It can be a difficult and emotional process since not a lot of people speak this language genuinely. If this is your language, then you can't rest until you tell the wronged person that you messed up, according to Growingself.
If this is your apology language then you are someone who not just acknowledges that they made a mistake but also seeks to grow from it. You want to never make the same mistake and instead want to change and learn from it. When you say, "I'll try not to do that again" it is a way of showing repentance. When you vocalize your intention to change you are also setting up the next step in this process of getting back into someone's good books.
Sometimes, different situations call for different methods of apology. Sometimes, it is enough to say sorry or by taking responsibility. Then there are times when there is a chance to learn. One of those situations is when you have to take action to make things right. For instance, if a child takes away another child's toy we teach them not just to apologize and take responsibility. We also teach them to not repeat their action and give the toy back, the latter being restitution, according to VerilyMag.
This is the hardest part of an apology but also the most important one for many people. When we seek forgiveness, we are seeking another person's permission to free ourselves of guilt. The one forgiving the other will also feel free once they forgive the one who wronged them. According to Chapman and Thomas, this is the hardest thing since we are letting go of control and the ball is in the other person's court. They can actually refuse to forgive and it would mean living with guilt and shame, as per VerilyMag.