I’ve offered many apologies in my lifetime. Plenty were heartfelt, and I genuinely meant them. I owed them. However, I’m starting to realize that I have also given many apologies that weren’t owed nor did I really mean. I’ve apologized way too many times out of guilt.
Two Types of Guilt-Induced/Manipulative Apologies:
1) A response to someone’s reaction to me.
I’ve spoken what I either believe to be truth or my sincere opinion, and people don’t always react well. When someone doesn’t react well to what I say, I have developed the bad habit of thinking that I owe them an apology. I try to remedy the situation by giving apologies that I don’t truly mean. I don’t owe anyone an apology for speaking my mind or sharing my opinion.
Recently, I had a public discussion about pastor’s salaries. Someone I know read this particular discussion and ended up blocking me on social media. I shouldn’t have felt bad about that. I mean, it’s an overdramatic reaction, in my opinion. However, I did feel bad for their reaction, so I sent a private apology. Not long after, I was wondering why I sent that apology. I didn’t mean it. I wasn’t sorry. I actually still held to my same opinion and views regarding the pastor’s salaries discussion.
I’m working on breaking my habit of feeling like I need to apologize to people who don’t like my personal views and opinions. They’re just that—my personal views and opinions. Your reaction to them is totally up to you. I’m done feeling guilty about having things to say. I’m also not interested in giving false apologies; even when I do it thinking it’ll help the other person. It won’t. It, ultimately, doesn’t help either of us, and I’m not one to purposefully be disingenuous.
2) A response to my reaction of others.
There’s no telling how many times I’ve apologized to people for how I responded to their actions that hurt me. In other words, I have been apologizing for being hurt by others. This is abusive and manipulative, and no one should ever make you feel like you’re in the wrong for being hurt by someone else and reacting accordingly.
They hurt me.
I react to that hurt.
They get angry because of my reaction to the hurt they caused.
I apologize to them for how I reacted to the hurt they caused.
The initial hurt is never brought up again.
In my experience, this occurred quite frequently in regards to years of psychological and emotional abuse I endured from my brother’s wife, and also from spiritual and emotional abuse that I was receiving in the church environment I was in and from certain church leaders there. The time frame in which there was an overlapping of these events was particularly hellish. It seemed like nonstop “I’m sorry for reacting in hurt when you hurt me.” I drove my mental health into the ground while trying to keep the peace and continuously trying to patch things back together; both with my biological family and with my “church family.” These are the apologies that I never should have given because I never owed them. These are the apologies that should have been given to me but never were.
This is where I had to finally accept many apologies that I never actually received so that I could move on from these people and situations.
Next time, before you apologize, make sure that your motives and reasons are good and correct. Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it; save yourself and the other person the false peace and coming confusion. Also, do not apologize for being hurt and/or reacting to hurt. Never allow anyone to make you feel like you own an apology in that kind of situation. You don’t. In summary, don’t apologize from a place of guilt. That will help you avoid both of these situations.