How to Apologize
This was by far and away, one of the biggest requests from my readers when I polled about what you wanted to read about. This was actually a small surprise to me, as it was against connecting. To be quite honest, this was a major issue for me in the past. It was one of the first things that came up in marriage counseling.
When we think about apologizing, I always have the same childish image come up in my mind. It's the image of a little boy and girl who have been caught yelling at each other by their teacher or parent. The adult looks to the first child and says, "Now what do we say?" and the child begrudgingly responds with little to no eye contact, arms crossed with a scowl faced mumble of "Sorry!" Then the second child is told to do the same. After the moment the adult thinks they have reconciled the situation, one child sticks their tongue out and runs away. Nothing was reconciled, no child was honored or heard and worst of all, both children learned that the words, "I'm sorry" have no actual meaning behind them. Growing up with my background, I had very little, to no experience at all with this. I didn't have any good modeling about apologizing, reconciling or reconnecting. In fact, I went the other way and went straight to blaming, defending or self riotousness. An apology was something I proclaimed I didn't need from others and something I literally couldn't do. SO to think back about what changed and why, it honestly came down to two realizations. One, apologies aren't about blame or weakness, but rather the exact opposite. They are about connecting and building trust and intimacy. Two, apologies aren't about you, they are usually about other people. What I mean by this can be best illustrated in this example. If you are walking along the sidewalk and a stranger accidentally bumps you while they pass, someone if not both, will usually say, "I'm sorry". It's not necessarily just about bumping into someone, its more about the reconnection and establishment that you are acknowledging the presence and existence of another human being. I wish I could tell you that there is one simple quick fix to this, but like with everything else worth having in life, practice make perfect and maintaining the discipline to want something better.
That being said, here are a few of the things that helped me. First and for most, getting real honest with my husband. I needed to acknowledge, out loud, that I had an issue here. Acknowldgoing and sharing something out loud doesn't make you weak, it makes it real. It is one thing to say it to yourself on repeat in your mind, and it is another thing entirely to say it out loud to someone you love and trust. This goes back to the old saying, "When does the dog become yours? When you give it a name." By naming your issues around apologizing, it makes it your issue and allows you to see it for what it is.
Second, I read the book, "When Sorry Isn't Enough" by Gary Chapman. I cannot tell you the importance of this book. Order from Amazon, now. This book was a revelation to me. Just like in his other best seller, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman explains that their are five different apology languages and how to identify yours and how to better have your apologies received to those intended. Next he walks you to an understanding of why you have some reservations and issues surrounding your past relationship with apologies. This book is maybe a 4 hour Audible download or an easy and quick read. Trust me on this one, it's worth the cost of two tall Starbucks orders.
Lastly, do some work around self worth. I know, this one might seem a little strange, but seriously, think about it. Why do apologies matter or not matter to you? Why are you so afraid or resistant to giving or receiving an apology? I would bet, that somewhere, deep down you either think you are unworthy of an apology or too afraid of reconnecting because being vulnerable enough to apologize is too much of a threat. Listen, I say all of this with love, because I had to do the same work, walk the same road and come to the same realizations. Do yourself and the people you love a favor, make time to journal and reflect on your self worth and your beliefs around it. When you get past the bullshit, it becomes pretty simple and common sense. You just need to lovingly provide yourself with the time and space to do the work.