I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. Most of us have, at some point or another, been guilty of this.
When we’re wracked with guilt about something, major or minor, that we’re definitely at fault for, and we reach out to the injured party to apologize.
It’s only the right thing to do, after all. Not apologize? Are you kidding? It’s clear we’re in the wrong, and we need to do our best to make amends.
There’s only one problem. We’re not doing this for them.
We do it for us.
Most of our apologies are entirely selfish, not intended for the person we’ve wronged in some way. They’re just stepping stones for us to feel better about ourselves.
Your apology is sometimes just a manipulation. Stop trying to force the people you love to say you did nothing wrong.
Some years ago, I had a lot of social anxiety. Instead of seeking professional help, I put a lot of the burden on one of my friends. I would lament to her about how I was sure all of my friends hated me, how I’d majorly messed up at the last party, or how much I was mad at myself.
She wasn’t a therapist, she was just a student like me. But she consoled me as best she could.
I never asked how she was doing or how she felt — I just vented, forcing her to be my free counseling. At the time, it felt like I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But as the years went by, I realized I’d really messed up.
So a while back, I sent her a message to see how she was doing. Once we’d finished the small talk and reminiscing, I took a deep breath and typed out:
“Hey, sorry, by the way, about how much pressure I put on you that year. I was a terrible friend to you and I should have asked for professional help instead of relying on you.”
She replied back: “Yeah, that was rough. Hope you’re doing better now!”