Sometimes it’s difficult to admit mistakes, especially mistakes or wrongdoings that have hurt our friends. Whether the act was intentional or not, you may want to make amends. In many cases, the sooner you apologize, the sooner both of you can collectively decide whether the friendship can be saved. However, if what you are apologizing for happened a year ago, you may need to say more than just “I’m sorry” for your apology to be considered genuine.
Acknowledge the Time Lapse
It’s never too late to apologize, writes Beverly Engel, in "The Perfect Apology." However, if it is obvious to you that your apology is long overdue, then it is likely to be even more obvious to your friend. You can openly acknowledge that the apology could have come sooner by saying “I understand that this apology could have come much sooner,, or “I know this apology is long overdue.”
Explain the Delay
In the absence of an apology, unresolved situations can become more serious problems. Your friend may be hurt by your initial mistake, but after a year, he may also deem you inconsiderate for not recognizing the need for an apology. To address this, explain the reasons why you are apologizing after so long a time. It may be helpful for your friend to know that you still have feelings of remorse and that you have considered her feelings.
You may include that you are sorry for how the situation made your friend feel. You can do this by stating, “I also apologize for how what I did made you feel,” or “I’m also sorry for the pain it caused you.” Note that this is only an addition to your apology since merely apologizing for how you made someone feel can be considered a nonapology, says John Grohol, the owner of Psychcentral.com. Avoid including any excuses to defend yourself or your delayed response as these may give your friend a reason to believe that you are being insincere.
Accepting or Not
Holding onto an unresolved situation for a year can cause anxiety, guilt and stress. Although an apology is meant to be a selfless act, it may be helpful to your health to know if your apology has been accepted. Harboring feelings of guilt may weaken your immune system, says Dr. Mehmet Oz.. You can certainly ask if your apology has been accepted but be prepared for the possibility that your apology may not be accepted.
You can’t control whether your friend forgives you; however, you can control whether you forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself may allow you to resolve negative emotions such as anxiety, stress or guilt. Just because you did something wrong does not make you a bad person. Consider this situation a learning experience and focus your energy on moving forward.
- Psychcentral.com: How to Make an Adept Sincere Apology
- Online.wsj.com: Who's Sorry Now? Nearly Everyone
- Doctoroz.com: Cut the Guilt Extend your Life
- The Power of Apology; Beverly Engel
- Effective Apology; John Kador
Karina Cole is a New York-based counselor with a Master's in mental health counseling from Fordham University. Cole is skilled in helping individuals, couples and families work through personal and professional obstacles as well as other anxiety-related experiences. She holds a certificate in crisis counseling and a Bachelor’s in business and administration from the University of Massachusetts.