Apologies can have different forms, occasions and also different motives. For example, in relationships with narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths, it is rare to hear an apology, and when it is offered, it is rarely due to honest intentions, and rather so that the person can reach their ultimate goal, which is not meant for reconciliation or for speaking the actual apology. An apology can also be used merely as a means to an end. This article is about the apologies made by people other than that and what their motivation and intention behind their apologies could be.
Linguistically analyzed, an apology is a very interesting thing in itself:
An apology usually refers to a renunciation of one’s own guilt. Accordingly, when someone apologizes, that person actually means that they are absolving themselves of guilt and admitting no real guilt. In different languages, this differs with the actual meaning of the word used for an apology, in Spanish, Portuguese and German, for example, such words are often very heavily influenced by the Christian religion due to their national proximity to the church and the majority of the citizens of these countries being Christian, whereas the word „apology“ in English is of Greek origin and is more similar to a defense in court.
There are different kinds of apologies that we should look into:
In most languages, this is a form of apology that is often used rather casually. This can be uttered pretty quickly or to solve a simple situation such as a bump-in in the coffee shop in the most pleasant way possible. This is more appropriate among friends or with strangers over a trifle.
«I would like to apologize»
This statement is not an outspoken reflection that the person is actually feeling bad or sorry. This can be an introduction to the acknowledgment of guilt of the colloquial apology, but in itself this is not a statement that reflects someone’s feelings at all.
«I am sorry»
This is the only „real“ way of apologizing, acknowledging responsibility for a situation, and expressing feelings of distress about it. This should be meant seriously and therefore the other person may be able to receive it better. Talking about one’s feelings is actually never inappropriate and often leads to clarifying conversations.
There are also some people who apologize all the time. Chronic apologizing for all sorts of things could be traced back to a social convention and thus indicate a social hierarchical problem. Others also apologize to keep social interactions between people friendly and helpful.
But when it comes to people who chronically apologize for all kinds of unimportant things when an apology isn’t really appropriate or necessary, this shows a clear behavioral pattern. Such behaviors can point to and indicate deeper issues. These people may be able to mask their real feelings with an apology or downgrade themselves in the face of the other person, which can indicate low self-esteem and can certainly have negative implications for this person.
Breaking this apology pattern takes some rethinking and some practice. Here are some tips for that:
In the future, every time you apologize, you’ll ask yourself why you have apologized and whether it was justified. This can be surprising or even frightening once you start paying attention to your own behavior and mechanisms. Then, after a few days, you can try to analyze how you’re feeling just before you utter the apology. It may be the case that you feel threatened, scared or embarrassed in that moment and you apologize quickly so that you can supposedly release the emotional tension of the situation or within you. Over time, anytime you want to quickly resort to apologizing, you pause and then stop yourself before actually saying the apology out loud. This way, your brain learns that your behavioral pattern has changed and you can work specifically on the feelings behind your former apologetic behavior.
It may be that the situation reminds you of a previously experienced situation or even something from your childhood. It is then necessary to dissolve this connection in a targeted manner so that you do not continuously attempt to degrade yourself. Hypnotherapy can help you very effectively and sustainably with such connections and behavioral patterns. It is in fact the only form of therapy that works directly in the subconscious, in which you can easily and permanently store and anchor new patterns.
Generally, we should only apologize when we have done something that we are actually responsible for. Apologizing in other situations creates an unhealthy hierarchy and makes the other person feel that we are submissive and don’t deserve our place in the situation. Enduring unpleasant feelings sometimes needs to be learned…