By Janet Lund
And God said…
God created us with a longing to be in relationship with others and to hear the words, “I love you.” To know that we are loved makes us feel seen, valued and cherished.
Like no other phrase, it can create a bridge that connects people heart-to-heart, in a deep and meaningful way. It nurtures feelings of trust, acceptance and emotional safety.
Not in Heaven Yet
Unfortunately, no matter how much we love someone, we are also human. We make mistakes. We get frustrated with ourselves or our circumstances, and we lash out at those we love most. In doing so, we injure that person. If we don’t reach out to make amends with that person, it damages the relationship.
Emotional Superglue to the Rescue
However, there is another phrase that can touch the heart just as deeply and mend the connection between individuals.
What could possibly be as powerful as “I love you”?
This: “I am sorry.”
When someone has been hurt, these words can make all the difference in the future of the relationship. They have the power to make things right again. In fact, they can not only repair the relationship but make it stronger. Ultimately, “emotional speedbumps” provide opportunities for us to learn, understand, and grow to love each other better.
In Public and Private Life
Unlike “I love you,” “I am sorry” is a phrase that we need to have at the ready in all our relationships. It is what mends misunderstandings with everyone we interact with. Saying “I am sorry” provides the possibility for a full recovery within the relationship, plus the potential for a stronger commitment to it.
But when we don’t apologize, the injury creates an emotional chasm between people. With time it turns into mistrust. The hurt individual pulls away from the offender and, over time, interactions become a hollow shell of what they used to be — if there is any interaction, at all. In a work setting, it can sometimes mean the difference between keeping a job or being let go. With acquaintances, it may make the difference between having it grow into a friendship or having it come to an end. With friendships, it can make the difference between growing closer or becoming enemies.
On a more personal note, “I am sorry” impacts everyday life within our homes in a special way. It not only impacts our relationships today but the future strength and depth of them.
When “I am sorry” is not part of our vocabulary, it snuffs out the chance of growing deeper in our trust in another person. Instead, the relationship plateaus and erodes as time goes by. The potential for openness and honesty between you and those you care about is nurtured when “I am sorry” is a valued part of your communication.
Owning Our Stuff
When we apologize, we “own our stuff.” It’s a process of taking responsibility for what we have done.
6 Steps to Owning Your Stuff:
- Take time to stop, reflect, and process what you have done.
- Consider how the recipient of your behavior may feel by putting yourself in his or her shoes.
- Put thought into finding the words to repair your relationships.
- Swallow your pride by forgiving yourself.
- Go to God in prayer.
- Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that the sooner you apologize the sooner the person who is hurt starts to experience relief from emotional pain. This is a great motivator for us to circle back swiftly.
For the Children
Apologizing is very important to teach your kids!
Teaching your kids to “own their stuff” will make their journey through life a much smoother ride — for them and everyone they interact with. Your children will not only be able to develop strong friendships, but they will learn to be reflective, humble, and compassionate people. Thinking beyond themselves, their needs, and their wants is not only important for building relationships and becoming a thoughtful person, but it is what Jesus called us to do.
The only way your kids will learn how to do this and embrace its importance is by watching you do it. Apologizing to your spouse, parents, siblings, and especially your kids, will teach them that everyone makes mistakes. All we need to do is recognize them, make amends, and move forward together.
Now, you may not have grown up in a family where everyone — or even anyone — apologized for their bad behavior. If you didn’t have a role model, it may take more effort for you to do this. But it is still an important habit for you to develop for your sake and your child’s.
Help your children understand that “I am sorry” is necessary to mend their relationships with friends, acquaintances, teachers, coaches, and family members. Yes, even their siblings. In fact, learning to mend relationships with siblings will build a strong foundation for their future relationships with each other as adults.
“I am sorry” can make all the difference in your family’s life journey through today and beyond.
Apologize. Mend. Grow.
Janet Lund is a relationship coach who specializes in nurturing the bond between moms and their teen/pre-teen daughters. She leads moms through coaching, speaking, and songwriting. Janet has spoken and performed in Canada, the United States, and Norway. Follow her on facebook.com/momkeepcalm and visit her website at www.momkeepcalm.com for parenting tools and words of support to be a calm mom.