The True Beauty of Apology

“To err is human; and to forgive, divine”, one of the most common and genius mantras of life by Alexander Pope known to mend even the messiest of relationships.

Counterintuitively, I believe there are dotted lines in- between this quote that could still surmise it similarly as Alexander’s only more practically?

And the most practical way out I know that sustains relationships is the powerful act of apologizing

Like my mum would always reiterate; “saying sorry doesn’t heal in the physical per se but has a way of healing a broken heart”. Ever since I was a child, I was habitually taught by the “elders” to inculcate the act of saying the words “sorry, please and thank you”. Paradoxically, I have come to the painful realization by experience, how nonchalantly people tend to be in using these phrases including the said elders/teachers which had me thinking perhaps, times have changed with surplus nuanced ways of sustaining relationships. Who knows.

This recent epiphany I had about this led me to reflect and hence, come up with a few key points on the essence of apology in solidifying different types of relationships/encounter.

Apology is more than a gesture

It is a given that every relationship or encounter has its ebb and flow and that is what in turn, strengthens it. Family members and friends fall out all the time, colleagues disagree, strangers fight and so on. However, what kills a relationship or leaves it at it’s “down” state predominantly is the negligent act of not apologizing; people choosing to act sorry than say sorry. Now, that may suffice but it’s never enough.

I recently had a slight brawl with a longtime friend of mine whom I know has a habit of showing than saying sorry. After the incident, I called her attention to discuss what had transpired and how my feelings were hurt by some of the words she used but instead of taking responsibility for her actions, she stayed mute and opted to subsequently depict sorriness in other ways. Although I adore her to bits, it has taken quite a strain on our relationship as a result. Which reminded me that

Apology is more than just a gesture.

There’s something about saying a meaningful sorry that goes a long way to forgiving a wrongdoer, hence, serving as a superglue to mending a relationship which only a few understands. No person is free of faults but admittance to offending another person and apologizing for it can be soul lifting for both parties involved. It is what goes a long way to cementing the unavoidable on & off loopholes in any healthy relationship. Conversely, when an apology isn’t rendered and instead substituted with gestures such as gift offers, execution of asked and unasked little favors etc., this may lead to a temporary letting go (as with the case of my friend) which is clearly different from forgiveness. Temporary letting go and suffering in that bid with aims to please and/or uphold peace may be worth it but can lead to resentment over time. It is something I refer to as the latent phase which is vulnerable to reactivation later in the future if/when a similar or different encounter in the same context takes place.

In order to stick to the aforementioned genius quote by Alexander Pope and efficiently facilitate forgiveness, I maintain that certain conditions/factors which are usually overlooked need to be met.

Apology is mutually beneficial to the physical and emotional health of the giver and receiver. When someone offers an apology to you, it eases your mind, relieves you of any mental strain from overthinking and rehearsals from the ugly scenario and as a result produce a stable breathing afterwards, decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. In essence, when a person who has wronged you utters the words “I’m sorry”, it means that they would have gone through the rigorous phases of regret and taking responsibility which triggers the last phase remedy dependent on the receiver.

Apology nullifies pride; the main causal factor of not giving it in the first place

Pride is one of the major reasons why a wrong doer may not see the need to apologize. The feeling of being superior over the assumed receiver or considering the act of apologizing merely humiliating. Apology serves as a mellow to a prideful person which in its own kind, is advantageous. When a prideful person musters the courage to apologize, in so doing, he/she would have gone through the humiliating process which in turn serves as a deterrent to desist from such similar act in the future. Nevertheless, this creates an emotional ease to the giver and in turn triggers empathy within the receiver and kick starts the process of forgiveness.

What am I trying to say?

No one is without faults as everyone is bound to make mistakes. It is the ability to recognize your faults, reflect and regret it, take responsibility for your action/inaction and render an apology for the betterment of your relationship that matters. This is what separates you from the others who don’t.

Apology has a tendency to change a person’s life. It does not make the actions that led to being hurt go away however, it goes a long way to alleviating the pain or other associated impacts. The act of apologizing is inherent on its own that if left undone can further complicate and compromise the quality of any relationship.

Apology means the giver understands. Therefore, it is also important for closure; as every wronged person deserves the right to be apologized to in order to fully process/deal and heal. When you as a receiver resists being apologized to or downplay its importance in mending/healing something that is broken emotionally or physically, these result to unhealthy traits which can linger on and create future resentments that may lead to further overall down spiraling of the relationship anyway.

It is dissatisfying to demand an apology and receive it but in the least, expect it. This expectation is usual in any mutually respectful relationship for instance a friend or family member. As a receiver, if possible, take out time to highlight key areas where your feelings may have been hurt to the other person in the relationship and better measures to have taken to avert the situation to trigger an apology hence, forgiveness. But when you seek apology and it’s not given, note that

“ Letting go gives freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness” Thich Naht Hahn.

It’s up to you as a giver or receiver.

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Comet N.

Comet N.

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A girl who writes & addresses toxic hidden agenda in the form of topical issues whilst digesting their relative life lessons. I can't alone— It's a ‘let's all’.