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Apologizing isn’t an easy thing to do. If you’ve never been taught how to apologize, it makes the task even harder. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness. Sometimes simply saying, “I’m sorry” doesn’t adequately communicate your regret for having done something that was hurtful.

When you’ve done something you shouldn’t, here are the  5 ways to apologize:

1. Express regret by saying: “I’m sorry for…” Be specific in expressing yourself. What are you sorry for? This isn’t merely a way to say you’re sorry that you got caught, but rather that you’re sorry you hurt another person.

2. Accept responsibility by saying: “I was wrong.” It’s important to accept responsibility for what you’ve done. If you can’t take responsibility, it will be hard for people to forgive you.

3. Make amends by asking: “What can I do to fix this?” After you’ve expressed regret and accepted responsibility, it’s important that you do what you can to make amends.

4. Express genuine repentance by promising: “I’ll do my best to never do this again.” You may regret having done what you did, and that’s good. However, it’s crucial that you don’t repeat the offense again in the future. The old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” It’s harder to forgive someone who’s done the same thing for a second time.

5. Request forgiveness by asking: “Will you please forgive me?” Be sure to ask the person you’ve offended to forgive you.

If you follow these steps, does that mean the person you’ve hurt will always forgive you? There’s no guarantee, and depending on what caused the pain, it may take them a little while to get to the point of forgiveness. However, your chances of forgiveness when you give a sincere apology are much greater than if you merely gloss over it with a curt “I’m sorry.”

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Part of the reason your apology may not be accepted is because of the way it’s given. If you tell them, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but…” it’s a pretty good bet they’re thinking the apology may not have been heart-felt. There’s no wonder they may not be so quick to forgive you. When your apology isn’t sincere, there may be forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean the relationship has been restored the way you hoped it would be.

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Neither of you will be able to let this go, put it in the past, and move forward if there isn’t true forgiveness on the one part and true repentance on the other.

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