A few thoughts on making an apology, something I’ve had to do more than once in my life. Most recently an apology was owed to the recipient of a snarkily worded email I’d sent. No surprise that as a writer I can put together a soul splintering insult when I choose, only in this case I was dead wrong. Reacting first, using logic second. I should have known better, but I didn’t.
So, an apology was in order. An in-person, look you in the eye and admit being wrong moment of pure vulnerability. When I learned I was wrong, it felt terrible; it was awkward and uncomfortable. No one likes to be told they made a mistake. No one likes to look like a hotheaded fool.
Yet wallowing in my shame and angst, I was reminded of a life lesson I’ve found (so often) to be true — if you must eat crow, eat it warm. Apologize right away. Don’t wait, don’t try to wiggle free or justify. As the tag line says — Just do it.
The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get the words out. The feeling of being wronged is incredibly powerful, destructive and hard to put aside, you don’t want that to be any part of any relationship you care about. Waiting gives all this a chance to fester and take hold while the delay only makes things worse.
Now you’re wrong and you refused o apologize.
You’ll feel that kind of tension in the air any time you are together. Deny it, ignore it — it’s still there between you from now on. Poisoning the relationship. Hurting your reputation.
Let too much time go by before making the deserved apology and you will only struggle harder to get the words out. The moment will never seem right to say them. You might even start a time or two, only to be cut off. You might even be grateful for the interruption. Somehow these words of apology will stick like glue in your throat and though you’ll practice them in your head, time passed makes them nearly impossible to actually get out.
See what I mean? Eat it warm, apologize as soon as you know you’ve wronged someone you care about; don’t wait. Admit your fault and ask forgiveness. Take your lumps… in the end it won’t feel as bad, or be as lingering as you imagine.
In fact, most people will forgive, as I was grateful to find out, so long as you are genuinely sorry.