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Can Saying You’re Sorry Save Your Life?
Have you embraced the beauty of saying you’re sorry? Or, do you still struggle with admitting when you’ve done something wrong? It seems to come more naturally to some than it does to others, and it’s true that learning how to admit when you’re wrong and to apologize can take practice. However, once you do master the art of making a sincere apology, you start to see the benefits it brings right away. In fact, learning how to say you're sorry and mean it could help to save your own life.
It Can Reduce Stress
Stress can be a major motivator, but too much stress, or stress that arises from negative circumstances, can lead to irritation, upset stomach, forgetfulness, muscle tension, fitful sleep and more. How can saying you’re sorry reduce and provide relief from stress? It’s simple really. Conflict with others is a major stressor. Not apologizing (or not being apologized to) can increase feelings of anger and frustration. Admitting you’re wrong can be the first step towards resolving a conflict.
It Can Make You Healthier
Since apologizing can reduce stress, it can also make you healthier. Physicians and psychologists agree that there is a connection between stress and physical and emotional well-being. High levels of stress can weaken your immune system leaving you more vulnerable to getting sick. Does this mean failing to tell your partner you're sorry after a fight can literally make you sick? Not exactly. But carrying the stress of unresolved conflicts around can make you more susceptible to sickness.
It Can Improve Relationships
Refusing to apologize makes it hard to resolve conflicts that arise in your personal relationships. If you’ve wronged someone in some way, intentional or not, it’s important to show that person you recognize what you’ve done. Failing to do so can make the other person feel disrespected and unappreciated, justifiably. But an apology done right can help to repair hurt feelings, bring about forgiveness, and improve the relationship. It can even make your relationship stronger, since you’ve both learned something about the other through the process.
It Can Aid Your Career
Globalization and the advance of technology have dramatically changed the average worker’s environment. We’re much more likely to work in environments that require collaboration and communication with multiple people. Employers look to hire and promote those who can work well on a team. If you can’t admit when you’ve made a mistake at your job, you won’t gain the respect or cooperation of your co-workers. Instead, you’ll foster bitter feelings. Worse, you may gain a reputation that will actually hinder you from being considered for promotions.
Say It and Mean It
Occasionally you may be able to get away with an apology that you don’t really mean. For instance, you might decide to be the bigger person in a situation and hope your apology can teach someone else a better way to act. Or, you might apologize for something you don’t really feel was wrong, just to save the feelings of a close friend. But while an insincere apology might appear to repair a situation for a time, it will actually do just the opposite.
Apologizing without meaning it might mean you are hanging onto negative feelings. Those feelings won’t go away just because you’ve swept them under the rug. Instead they fester and grow, continuing to cause damage. Unresolved feelings of hurt or anger can negatively affect your health and well-being.
So What’s the Most Effective Way to Apologize?
Don’t force it. While you can’t always hesitate, sometimes it is best to give yourself and the other person time to think first. In other words, do it when you can be calm and sincere and when the other person knows you’ve had time to consider your mistake.
Don’t make it about you. Too many people see apologizing as a way to make themselves feel better. The listener will pick up on that right away. Instead, show the other person you understand how your words or actions affected them. Then, focus on finding out what the person needs from you in order to accept and believe your apology.
Don’t forget to live it. This is the most important part of an effective apology. Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean anything unless there are actions to back up those words. In most cases, if someone is truly sorry for their behavior, they will try to change it. If they do not make a change, they’re probably either not sorry or for some reason unable to control their own actions. So really, apologizing verbally is just the first step. What matters most is that your behavior remains consistent with those words. It’s a good idea to let the person you’re apologizing to know that you understand this and that you’re willing to live that apology.
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