My mom always told me to apologize to someone when I truly felt bad. However, a lot of times we say sorry when we didn't do anything. How come? You may feel guilty, like you caused a problem, even though you couldn't control what happened. You may want to end a fight, despite knowing you did nothing wrong. There are times when you should apologize, but there are times when you shouldn't.
First, you need to determine if you did anything wrong before apologizing. Often, we assume that we caused a problem when we may not have done anything at all. If someone is angry with you, and you know their anger is not warranted, you do not need to apologize. Personal problems can often be deflected and blamed on others. This is not your responsibility. Don't apologize if you really did nothing wrong to someone. Retrace what you said, so they realize you are not at fault if they confront you. And if you can’t reach an agreement, then agree to disagree.
When encountering a confrontation, decide whether or not you are sorry. Did you do anything wrong, or was the other person merely a victim of circumstance? Would apologizing be sacrificing your morals? I have done a lot of things in life to stand by my morals, where the other person was hurt. But I was not sorry, and did not feel like I needed to apologize for them. You may think this is harsh or cruel, but do not apologize just to appease the other person.
Lastly, if you do need to apologize, it’s important to consider timing. You shouldn't apologize right after hurting someone's feelings - especially if they are mad. If I am upset by someone, I tend to become angry, so I need time alone to clear my mind. We all make mistakes, and sometimes we say things that we don't mean. Give the person a little time and space to absorb the situation that just occurred. Let them calm down and return with a better attitude. It could take a couple of hours or a few days. An apology should be made after some time apart. Additionally, if they also hurt your feelings, they might need to reflect so they can apologize at the same time as you.
It is not always necessary to apologize, but if you feel guilty about how you treated someone or what you said, it is best to apologize after allowing time apart. Apologizing is not fun since it involves admitting that you have done something wrong to someone else, but it does enhance relationships and help people recognize their faults. Following these steps will help you know when to apologize and when not to apologize. Additionally, it can help you discover if you need to resume a relationship, or let someone go entirely, for a happier, healthier life.
Written by: Audre Arnett