Four Apology Myths
Apologizing doesn’t mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your opinion.
BY DRS. BOB & AUDREY MEISNER – AUGUST 21, 2019
It’s no wonder why many of us apologize and wonder why it didn’t quickly mend the relationship wound and immediately fast-track us onto the road of reconciliation. We hold on to common apology myths and assume that true connection, safety , and trust can be achieved through cookie-cutter methods and fail proof words. Apologies are much deeper than words and in order to restore trust between spouses, parents, relatives, kids, and friends we need to prepare our hearts by examining our motives.
Following are four common apology myths that have the potential to break through your disconnect, and truly set you on a roadway to unconditional love:
1. I am not being true to myself if I apologize when I didn’t do anything wrong.
What do you do when the other person wants an apology that feels like you have to betray yourself and the truth as you know it? How is that healthy?
We all need to maintain our own dignity and worth at all costs. When we allow other people’s actions and demands to determine our worth, we are giving power to a source other than our Maker, and we are set up for hurt and pain. Our security and identity to be validated by God first and foremost. As you come to embrace and experience the truth of His love for you, you will begin to feel assured that He knows you and He knows your heart. Only you and God truly know your motives and intentions. When we are secure in our worth in God, we set ourselves up for loving those around us with unconditional love.
Truth: Apologizing will not rob you of your personhood.
2. I had no idea I made a mistake, so they experienced me wrong. They misinterpreted my actions.
You had no intention of hurting that other person, so if they have been hurt, it must have been their own presumptions and guessing that led them! They have wrongly judged me, so why do I have to apologize?
This leads us to one of the most valuable relationship questions you could ever ask yourself: How are the people around me experiencing me?
If they are needing an apology, then the truth is they experienced you a way that didn’t feel loving. And even though it feels true, it’s real for them. Even though it feels like you have loved them, this becomes your opportunity to embrace humility and bring a course correction. This is the perfect time to learn more about them, and how love will land more effectively.
Truth: The apology is necessary, even though you had no intention of hurting them.
3. I said I was sorry, that should be enough.
If your apology isn’t landing, there’s a good chance the other person hasn’t experienced you truly feeling their pain and hearing their heart. If you have caused someone pain (intentional or not) deep down their heart is begging for validation. Their words may be expressing anger and hurt, but beneath the surface, they’re saying, “Please hear my heart. Please acknowledge my pain and validate me.” When you offer sincere empathy they will feel heard, and be able to breathe again and start the journey to renewed trust.
Truth: The apology isn’t over until the other person feels heard.
4. Apologies are challenging for a “truth” person.
“Lovers of Truth” can see the value in justice, fairness, commitment, and raw honesty. Jesus was a lover of truth, and he taught us the ultimate communication style, “Speaking the truth in love”. That is, 100% truth coupled with 100% love. That means kindness, gentleness, compassion, and mercy are saturating each word. And mercy is defined as undeserved favor! When truth and love are spoken together, an apology will be easily received and be motivated by love.
More often than not, someone who describes themselves as a “truth” person, is most likely a “right” person. Insisting on rightness can be highly dangerous for any relationship and just reveals that you are being inflexible and rigid. For this person, the question becomes: Are you willing to lay down your right to be right? Every time you hold on to that right, you are walking away from a relationship.
Truth: Being a “Lover of Truth” is made perfect when you are surrounded by love, clothed in love, and motivated by love.
Preparing for an Apology
Lay down the right to be right. You may be completely accurate in your perception of your intentions. But if you are insisting on “rightness” there’s a good chance your apology won’t be felt as sincere. Lay down your life. Phil 2:2 says, “Consider others as more important than yourself.” Their opinion is more important than yours. Love lays down your life for another, and the biggest thing you die to is your own opinions. Remember, when you lay down your right to be right, you are not lying to self, you are dying to self.
Receive mercy from your Heavenly Father. When you are fully convinced how merciful God is to you, you will be able to fully receive His mercy. Create a visual of how it feels and looks to be surrounded and clothed with His tenderhearted mercy. Now you are ready to give that mercy to those around you.
Know your value and dignity and worth. When you know that you are loved, and convinced of how secure you are in your identity, you are able to serve others. When you aren’t holding on to judgments and offenses, you can be at peace with yourself and others.
When we personally work with couples and relationships, we can quickly recognize the myriad of past hurts and unresolved conflict. It often feels like there’s a puzzle before us, and it’s necessary to unravel the entangled pain. Learning to debunk your myths of apologizing can be a massive step in the direction of beginning that process and truly connecting on a heart level.
Hear more about this topic on Episode 15 of All About Relationships Podcast with Bob and Audrey.