More than I’m Sorry: The 5 Languages of Apology

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3 part series on Apologizing and Forgiveness. We all want to feel loved and appreciated; but what happens when someone falls short of that mark. How do they make it right in your eyes? How are you expecting them to express to you that they are sorry? All life relationships come with there ups and downs. We have disagreements, we unintentionally hurt each other and fall short. Those are the times when sincerely apologizing to our friends, family, significant others, and ourselves is needed.

When Sorry Isn’t Enough, Dr. Chapman’s book with Dr. Jennifer Thomas dives into the 5 Languages of Apology. When Dr. Chapman’s previous book the 5 Love Languages, hit the shelves, it was on the NY best sellers list and has been there for 304 weeks.  When I read the 5 Love Languages, it was a game-changer in my life. Not only did I learn a lot about myself but I learned how to navigate the different relationships in my life. So you could imagine how excited I was to see that he had written another book on the opposite end of the spectrum.

So why not have a cheat code on how to properly apologized to those we hurt. Like all things, this may not work for everyone, but it does give us a great foundation on where to start.  Let’s dive into the 5 Languages of Apology and change the way we express how sorry we are the ones who matter the most.  

Expressing Regret

I believe that this may be one of the easier of the five apology languages. Expressing regret is simply and genuinely saying, “I’m sorry for (inserts XYZ). Expressing regret is my second primary apology language.  The book describes this love language as taking ownership of the wrong and emotional hurt you have committed. It is a sincere commitment to repair and rebuild the relationship.  When expressing regret is your partner, family, or friend’s primary apology language, you need to be firm in your apology not only in what you are saying but in your body language and attention.

“I’m sorry for yelling at you during our argument.”

“I am sorry for not considering your feeling.”

Accepting Responsibility

Accepting Responsibility is my primary love language, I am a firm believer that if you do something wrong intentionally or unintentionally, you need to accept responsibility for your actions.  This may not be one of the harder apology languages to exhibit, but I do believe this is the one that creates the most growth. If you have someone in your life who apology language is accepting responsibility, be prepared to let go of your ego, and the complex of always being right, because with this apology language, the words “I’m wrong” and “what you were wrong about” needs to the base of the apology.

“Honey I am sorry for being late for our date, I was wrong for not prioritizing our time together.”  

“I was wrong.”

Making Restitution

If you know the primary love language of the person you are apologizing to this apology language maybe be easy peasy. This apology language is all about “how can I make it right” and reassuring the person that you love them. Dr. Chapman and Dr. Thomas suggest that after apologizing use the person’s love language (Quality time, Words of Affirmation, Gift giving, Physically Touch, and Acts of Service) to make restitution.

“How can I make this up to you?”

“I am sorry for not doing what you asked of me, how can I make this better?”

Genuinely Repenting

The definition of repentance by Webster directory is the action of repenting, sincere regret or remorse. Dr. Chapman and Dr. Thomas defines repentance as “to turn around or to change one’s mind.” So, what does all this mean? You cannot just say, “I’m sorry,” you will need to put in work and right your wrong. You have to show that you have made a change and will try to never hurt that person again in that manner.

“I’m sorry I did not get to spend time with you today, can we schedule some time together tomorrow so I can give you my undivided attention.”

“I am sorry for not communicating with you effectively, what is a better way for me to communicate with you so you won’t feel this way again.”

Requesting Forgiveness

“Will you forgive me”. Those who apologize language is requesting forgiveness will not feel that you have sincerely apologized until you request for them to forgive you. Sounds easy, will it is.

“I’m sorry for not considering your feeling in the matter, could you please find it in your heart to forgive me? “

“Can you please forgive me for not making it to dinner on time?” 

Now that you have the knowledge, it is time for you to do the work. First, let’s start by taking the quiz to discover your apology language. If you are in a relationship, I would suggest that you ask you, partner, to take the quiz too. Here are some talking points to consider after taking the quiz.

Does your primary apology language speak to how you prefer to be apologized to?

For me, this is a strong YES. As I stated before my primary apology language is accepting responsibility. To me, if you can’t take responsibility  for your actions, how can you be sorry for your wrong doings? I also notice when I apologize to others, I tend to say, “I apologize for hurting your feelings that were not my intention.” I try to speak to and reiterate what the person has expressed to me as the problem.  

When was the last time you apologized?

This was one of the questions that Dr. Chapman asks the couples during his seminars. Apologizing is not easy, but it is necessary to keep and heal relationships.  Don’t think that you are too big or better than anybody to the point where you don’t apologize.

Have you ever missed the mark when apologizing?

So you hurt someone in you life, you then proceed to apologize but doesn’t seem to be enough. They want more from you to prove yourself. You didn’t feel it was necessary because you apologized already. Well, maybe you missed the mark. You may have said you were sorry, but without knowing their apology language, how could your apology be effective in their eyes.

Is there some one you need to apologize to?

After reading this, do you believe that there is someone you may need to apologize to. For me that was a yes, I needed to seek forgiveness for pain that I caused in the life of others. It was not intentional, but it did occur. This book was the confirmation I needed to a question that was nagging at me deep down inside. So, I put my big girl panties on and apologized and admitted my wrong (see I used my own apology language). This doesn’t have to be hard, and can open you up do a great amount of healing.

This is not the end all be all to apologizing, but this book does open your eyes on how we could be better at requesting forgiveness from others. We may have to take an extra step if we want to be effective in our apology. Try it out; see how speaking their apology language will change the course of your relationship. on the next blog we will focus on the do’s and don’ts of apologizing and what do to when you don’t feel like you were wrong.

Until next time

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