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How to Apologize
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
Making mistakes is part of being human. Unfortunately, this often means that we hurt those we care about. When this happens, it is important to make a sincere apology.


Apologies are not easy because they put us in a vulnerable position. But, they are what maintain close relationships in the wake of our mistakes. Of course, they are only effective in repairing a relationship when our partner can be forgiving.


What have your experiences been with apologizing to those you care about? And, what have your experiences been with being able to offer forgiveness?




For guidance about apologizing, you can read more about this topic in my The Art of Relationships blog, click here .




Dr. Becker-Phelps's discussions and her responses in those discussions are for general educational purposes only. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.


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rohvannyn responded:
I apologize way too much so it sounds insincere. I also have a really hard time forgiving myself after I apologize, which is an issue I've touched on before. Even when I think I mean my apology, very often my partner won't accept it because she doesn't think it sounds heartfelt. Worst of all, I have trouble changing my behavior even after I've accepted the wrongness of my actions. It's almost as if I was programmed to continue the bad behavior.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to rohvannyn's response:
Hi, Roh. I know this has been a struggle for you. For many people, they feel better after apologizing when they see a change in behaviors related to the apology. But they also need to be able to give themselves credit for their efforts and the steps they've made. Are you seeing changes- even if they are just small steps? What are they?
 
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dfromspencer replied to rohvannyn's response:
Hi Roh,


Sorry, I had not seen this before? I know you have problems with apologies, I have them too. But lately, since I have been here talking to you, and Dr. Leslie, and Sluggo, and , oh, the list goes on! I have noticed changes in myself, and in you, all for the better, if I might add this? Roh, your problem is sorta like mine, I have apologized till my teeth hurt, and I always felt bland, like I never felt anything? Just feeling emotion was a struggle for me, until I found this site, and talked to some of the long timers!


Together, you all have helped me open up my emotional barrier, and now, my apologies sound true, and not plastic, like before. All of you guys helped steer me in the right direction, but I had to have Dr. Leslie hit it, I had to accept my own apology. I never wanted to forgive myself, but I had to, and then, I had to apologize to myself for holding on to everything in my past! It is what it is, the past!


Don't hold onto past apologies, that is a ticket to no where! Apologize to yourself, accept your apology, and move on. Next time you apologize to your spouse, she will see your sincerity!!! My own brother saw it in me. So, you can do this Roh! I know you can!!!


I can't wait to see the new, improved Roh!!! LOL!!!


Always your friend,


D.
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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rohvannyn replied to dfromspencer's response:
No worries, Dennis. I know stuff can slide down till you don't see it anymore. Sometimes when I apologize I do it because I know what I did was wrong, but I just can't feel anything except a remote sort of pain and just kind of a fuzzy headed feeling. I can't think logically at those times and I know it just drives my spouse crazy. I have a really hard time recovering from that headspace, and she thinks I am choosing to be that way. I don't feel like I am! I feel like I am trapped and it just happens to me! But if I'm not in control, who is? I must somehow to be choosing to react this way? It's befuddling.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
 
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gd9900 replied to rohvannyn's response:
Roh, sometimes our reactions are out of learned habits...if you dig a little deeper you may find your subconscious or unconscious response stems from receiving something perceived as positive from that reaction in your past. You are in control of your reactions. If you are only allowing your reaction to happen it will likely not change. If you want to change it you must first understand the benefit you are getting out of that reaction...good or bad. Similar to a child seeking attention by exhibiting bad behavior. The child exhibits negative behavior without consequences doesnt learn healthy boundaries, they instead receive reinforcement that negative behavior gives them attention even if it is not the kind of attention they seek. kwim?!
 
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rohvannyn replied to gd9900's response:
Not sure what kwim means, but you make some really valuable points. It's a truly excelent question you bring up so I'll be thinking about it.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
 
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gd9900 responded:
With regards to the op, I will share a recent awakening I've had with apologies and forgiveness. After 12 years in a relationship, 9 married, my ex expressed years of resentment toward me for things I was mostly unaware of. With regards to the op, I will share a recent awakening I've had with apologies and forgiveness. After 12 years in a relationship, 9 married, my ex expressed years of resentment toward me for things I was mostly unaware of. There were a few things he had mentioned here and there, taken seriously by me but not resolved to his liking. Instead of pursuing his resolve, he left it to fester inside leading me to believe everything was ok on his end. In the end when he threw blame my way I believed I was evil and at complete fault for the demise of our marriage. I apologized profusely for every little thing he threw at me. Those apologies were real but not so much heartfelt because it was a lot to contend with at once...I wasnt even sure I should be apologizing but I certainly didn't want our relationship destroyed. After 3 separations I finally realized and confronted him about his lack of transparency over the years. He made a subtle attempt to his admittance of this but ultimately took my insight as an accusation he was a liar. That wasnt my intention, but a reality he couldn't live with. The reality was he hadnt been honest with himself-which was how I presented this with him. In addition I had called him out on empty promises made over the years...things I let slide. When I finally asked for an understanding of this, it drove him further away. As a result his subsequent behavior toward me spoke in volumes as unsupportive. I was in complete denial because of the sudden change in his character. Divorce was inevitable from his standpoint but our marriage was repairable from my perspective. Eventually he got what he wanted. For years now I've struggled to understand. A close friend of mine suggested an apology from him would help my healing. At that point I realized two things...an apology from him wasn't happening and even if it did happen it was too late to have meaning for me at that point. Since then, finding forgiveness has been entirely on my shoulders...but ive found it. My fault was trusting him to be true to himself. That was on him, but I made it worse by giving him that trust instead of challenging it. As it stands today, if he showed up on my doorstep to apologize for his behavior I would accept IF he provided me with an understanding why he chose to give up on us and walk away. Forgiveness would be his cross to bear. were a few things he had mentioned here and there but in the end even I believed I was evil and at complete fault for the demise of our marriage. I apologized profusely for every little thing he threw at me. After 3 separations I finally realized and confronted him about his lack of transparency over the years. He made a subtle attempt to his admittance but ultimately took my insight as an accusation he was a liar.
 
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gd9900 replied to gd9900's response:
And now, my apologies for repetition in my previous post...seems I pasted a portion of it twice!
 
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gd9900 replied to rohvannyn's response:
Roh, thank you. I wish you all the best in finding resolve. kwim=know what I mean
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to rohvannyn's response:
It sounds like your "fuzzy headed feeling" might be a response to feeling overwhelmed by emotion. Have you ever tried to "sit with" or just focus on that feeling? Sometimes when people struggle with just feeling their emotions, it helps for them to get some quiet time, close their eyes (or just their minds) to distractions, and focus on a situation that upset them and then pay attention to how they feel in their bodies. When they stay with this, they can then sometimes identify certain emotions that seem related to those sensations. They can then practice staying with the emotions, learning to tolerate them, and eventually be able to reflect on them. In the end, they are more connected with their emotions. Make sense? It's not easy to do and takes practice. But, you might want to try it?
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to gd9900's response:
Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like you are in a much better place than you once were-- glad to hear it!


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