When you next feel the need to make an apology, press pause.
Take your awareness to your breathing. This brings you into the present moment.
Ask yourself what you are apologising for. Is it a wrongdoing for which you are genuinely sorry?
Ask yourself what you hope to gain from apologising. Is it to reassure the recipient that you will not repeat the offence or will make amends? Is it to gain proof of approval? Is it to reaffirm negative self-deprecating core beliefs? Is it because you need to respond but are at a loss as to what else to say? Is it to demonstrate compassion or practise empathy; to share in the pain of another person?
Is this an apology that you are consciously choosing to make?
If this is the case, make your apology with sincerity, clarity, humility, and transparency. It is likely, then, to be appreciated.
If you are unsure as to whether the apology is appropriate, examine your motives further.
When an apology feels inappropriate but automatic and difficult to avoid, consider employing one of the following strategies:
On delivering bad news, have a number of practised phrases to hand. If you are imparting upsetting information you may want to use words like:
“Unfortunately, the scan results were not as we had hoped” instead of “I’m so sorry to tell you that the scan results were terrible” and
“I have some sad news about your neighbour” rather than “I’m so sorry to have to tell you awful news about your neighbour” and
“I respectfully disagree with you” instead of “I’m sorry but you are totally wrong.”
On hearing someone else’s bad news or expressing our concern to a person who has experienced adversity you may wish to express some clear truths. Doing this rather than injecting your own sadness or projection into the situation allows you to better serve them whilst, at the same time, safeguarding your own wellbeing. You may choose to say:
“I can see that this is a really sad for you. Your Mum was lovely” rather than “This is absolutely terrible, I’m so sorry for your loss” or
“I can see that you are disappointed that you didn’t pass your exams. What do you need?” instead of “I’m really sorry that you didn’t pass your exams. What are you going to do now?”
If you are a habitual apologiser, you probably even say “sorry” when someone bumps into you in the street. We find that a quick “oops!” is most useful and generally lightens the mood without any blame being apportioned. Accidents are just that. They do not usually have a perpetrator and they do not have to be an opportunity to berate the Self.
As usual, set the intention to connect with the observing part of your psyche with gentle curiosity. This is the part of you that witnesses thoughts, emotions and behaviours but is not the part that does the thinking, feeling, and behaving. Sometimes the very practice of observation is enough to affect positive change. Witnessing habitual apologising and connecting it to issues around self-worth can, in itself, bring us up short and increase our awareness so that we are careful not to affirm anything that does not serve us. You can read more about how to do this in ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual.’
In short. When you stand in your own authenticity, you are magnificent! There is nothing to apologise for here!