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The value of apologizing

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If I’m to live well, and thrive, I must recognize & acknowledge my errors and wrongs. When those errors and wrongs impact people, i.e., they are part of a social context, then that process of recognition & acknowledgement may become part of an apology. For example, if I say something hurtful to a friend and value the friendship then I’ll need to recognize and acknowledge what I’ve said and attempt to right the wrong by not saying or doing it again. 

But what about cases where I can’t right the wrong? Or cases where I don’t want to see that person again? I see value in the just the recognition and acknowledgement of my error or wrong, because I’ll carry that knowledge into all my other relationships, but is there value in an apology, i.e., in the reaching out to the person and telling them that I was wrong and why I was wrong?

For example, a friend committed a wrong against me that led to me ending the relationship but also saying something hurtful in return. I don't plan on attempting to rebuild a friendship with this person again but I'm wondering if there's value in apologizing for the wrong that I committed? Also I still have some of the friend's property--but how about posting it to them despite never being asked for it back? I'm split in that I feel that I've acknowledged what I need to for myself and I've learned from it and anything else would be altruism, but also I feel there may be more to an apology then it just being for the sake of rebuilding a friendship, so I'm keen to think this over more and hear other's thoughts.

Another example would be a friend I didn't stand up for (he was bullied) when I feel that I should've. With that friend I wish I could've acknowledged this much earlier as he's completely changed from someone who studied physics and programming to become an extremely religious person living in an isolated biblical community. I've acknowledged my errors personally, but I don't think there's a friendship to rebuild with him. Is there any gain to be had from an apology?

Edited by LoBagola

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5 hours ago, LoBagola said:

Is there any gain to be had from an apology?

This recent post aligns well with what you're asking here:

On 3/22/2016 at 8:05 AM, Michael J. Hurd Ph.D. said:

Everyone needs to operate on a sense of justice, i.e., sticking to, and honoring, the facts. “Was I wrong in what I said or did? Do the facts prove it? If so, I should acknowledge it.” An apology does just that. When you apologize, you’re saying: “I know I was wrong, and I regret it.”

Encouraging others (or ourselves) to be meek and humble is no way to achieve justice. What matters is whether you’re right or wrong, according to the facts. The goal is not to be — or to be — sorry. The goal is to acknowledge the truth.

So the gain would be your (and their) recognition/acknowledgement of the truth.

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On 3/27/2016 at 11:54 PM, dream_weaver said:

So the gain would be your (and their) recognition/acknowledgement of the truth.

What you say is accurate, but I think the benefits of saying sorry are much bigger than what's being mentioned here.


I find that when I say sorry on a frequent basis (and I make mistakes every single day), it inspires courage. I'm not afraid of being wrong, because I can trust myself to correct my mistakes. Because I know I'll make mistakes and can correct them, I can steam ahead and crash into walls and have the resiliency to get up very fast.

I'm also not very worried about hurting people, because many times after I've hurt them and say sorry, the relationship to that person is actually improved. In other words, it's better to hurt them, acknowledge the mistake and fix it, then not taking any action at all.

Saying sorry has so many benefits. Another is that the internal fear of being "discovered" goes away. "What if someone finds out" becomes a though of the past, and instead there comes the pride of "yes, I did this, and I stand by it, because I've corrected my mistake".


So I'd say; make heaps of mistakes, learn from it, apologize, and go full throttle. Life is short, make the most of it. You cannot drive a formula 1 car with a lot of weights hanging behind it. Fix errors and move on.

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