One thing I see as a San Diego therapist is the hesitancy for people to apologize. Many folks stand behind egos, defenses and excuses and have difficulty apologizing whether it’s to a friend, co-worker, or significant other. I wish more people would reconsider the apology and rediscover the strengths, freedom and benefits associated.
To begin with, I think it’s important to challenge the beliefs often linked to apologies. For some, apology feels like a “weakness”. Others may assume it puts them at a disadvantage by diminishing power, control and bargaining. Still others think apologizing makes them “bad”, as if they aren’t allowed to display behaviors they later aren’t proud of, thereby learning from them.
Apologies improve the relationship and the people in them
In reality, apologies help open doors in relationships and help to increase trust. For the person apologized to, it influences them back away from defenses, blame and usually softens their stance. They feel less of a need to protect and defend their position and self and are usually more inclined to let the issue go, forgive, and move forward without resentment. Apology almost always has a healing influence on a relationship and the person apologized to.
In addition, the person who apologizes is effected positively. If a person is held by ego, or negative beliefs about admitting to less than desirable behaviors, moving through an apology challenges them reframe those beliefs and can help soften their ego. In relationship, the ego is necessary to hold healthy boundaries, but if too strong, it can get in the way. There is a tremendous amount of freedom when taking responsibility for our darker behaviors. We can stop holding up the walls, and change behaviors we don’t want to repeat. Apologizing is a door leading to individual growth as we can be accountable to what we don’t like and move towards what we aspire to. And, because we apologized, we can do it out in the open. Apology is not just a show of respect for another individual, but to one’s self.
So, next time you feel you may have contributed to a problem in a relationship and are sitting in your symbolic corner with either arms crossed, or fists up, I urge you to consider the above and form a new relationship with apologizing, yourself and the other person involved. Move out of your comfort zone! You’ll never get anywhere new if you don’t.