What Is The Best Apology?

Real apology
There are two kinds of apologies – one that is real, that makes you feel guilty to introspect and change your behavior. Second is the one that is done just to please, to avoid an argument, shift the responsibility or save a relationship.

When I was growing up, I was many times told to apologize to assuage the feelings of somebody though I had done no harm. Even when I refused to do a chore that I didn’t feel like doing or felt it was below my dignity to polish the shoes of a sibling, I was given a violent reward and told to apologize!

Obviously I refused, as I didn’t believe in such an apology. In my view, a sincere apology is the one that emanates from one’s heart and is well deserved too.

Do you believe in apology? Some people don’t, as it is below their dignity to apologize.


  • People who maintain emotional distance never apologize.
  • Their ego and pride is bigger than all relationships.
  • They don’t want to take the blame.
  • They don’t want to abdicate power and control over others.
  • They believe in self-righteousness, not humility.
  • Anger and bitterness may overpower their goodness.
  • Self-esteem, which they nurture, is all-important.

On the other hand are people who apologize profusely and live that moment only to forget it the next day.

  • They are most insensitive.
  • They live within moments.
  • They never make an effort to change.
  • For them, apology is just a face saver.
  • Fear of consequences propel them to apologize.
  • They could be living in the shadow of their own insecurities.

Which ones do you like?

Is apology meaningless? Sometimes, if it is not received well.

Recently my argumentative muse mentioned that apology and forgiveness go hand in hand. In order to forgive, an apologetic and receptive heart is required. If forgiveness is not received well, it becomes meaningless.

I reminded her that we forgive for our own solace. The person I forgive may remain as vindictive as ever, may remain indifferent and hostile but all those negative vibes return to the heart they stem from. They can never touch me because the moment I forgive, I detach myself from such people.

Forgiving ourselves

Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for the hurts we may have caused to others. We may justify our actions by telling ourselves that ‘we didn’t hurt intentionally’ but we can never comprehend the perspective of others who think otherwise.

I know forgiveness is not easy. I have painstakingly taught myself this art. I kept on reassuring myself for many years that I would never forgive certain people, as this thought gave me a grim satisfaction that I have vindicated myself.apology quote

I also know very well that basic human behavior has not changed for ages. What we have learnt is the art of wearing masks. We try not to offend, we choose our words carefully, we avoid the topic that may cause unpleasantness, and we become ambivalent whenever a direct question is asked but we never reveal what lies within our heart. We never share our most secret thoughts.

The best apology is to change your behavior:

Change may be hard but only through behavioral changes do we become a likeable person. Is it so hard to change one’s behavior?

  1. We could begin with kindness, the virtue, which is innate, which is like a candle that needs just a spark to get ignited. A kind word spoken with sincerity is always heard.
  2. We could stop making glum faces and smile more often to reassure the other person that our apology was honest.
  3. We could try to be emotionally present during our interactions and keep our digital devices away.
  4. A meaningful conversation melts away many fears and insecurities.
  5. We could respect each other with little gestures of sharing the chores we detest.
  6. It is better to forgive even those who refuse to acknowledge it. Their own moment of understanding the value of apology would hit them one day. Let their age yield them at the altar of forgiveness.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

63 thoughts on “What Is The Best Apology?

    1. Self-growth is very much in our reach especially in case of personality enhancement. What is essential is the inclination. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thought Radhika.

  1. Such an in-depth post on apologies, Balroop. You sure covered different aspects of it. I can relate with the times when you were a kid and forced to apologise out of respect and politeness. When I was a kid, my parents always asked me to apologise when I said something off-hand and it offended someone – even though I didn’t get why it was offensive (for instance like when I talked back at my dad, and I felt like I am stating my opinion, that’s all but apparently to others I am being rude).

    I do believe in apology and for the reasons you have outlined, and believe a sincere apology is one that comes from the heart and we want to say it. So true not everyone will be okay with an apology – what we’ve done or what we’ve said, we’ve done the damage. Detaching ourselves after the apology can be hard. It’s sort of like you forgive but you can never really forget what happened. That said, I do feel moving on will eventually happen in due course. Forgiving ourselves can be so hard if we are in the wrong – because we have to acknowledge that we are not perfect, and because of our choices we lost something. Thanks for another fantastic write-up 🙂

    1. I think the word ‘sorry’ doesn’t mean anything to children who make the same mistake of pushing each other the moment they are upset…I see that happen everyday as my grandchildren who hug each other one moment and push when one refuses to play a particular game. But the value has to be instilled and therefore we tell them to apologize. If they grow up with this word, they slowly learn its value. Having said that, I would like to emphasize that expecting children to apologize just because they hurt your ego or didn’t respond well to what you said is not fair.
      Detaching from a person who doesn’t respond in a positive manner to our apology helps us move forward and overcoming our guilt. It frees us from the clutches of a relationship, which is not valued by him/her. It is hard, I agree but it gives us solace.
      Thanks for sharing your perspective on the topic Mabel. Stay blessed!

  2. Great thoughts Balroop.
    I think some of us were brought up to make sure we apologised, no matter what, and sometimes we become conditioned to say it.
    That said, as I grew up, I realised that word felt empty, some of the times I used it, so I stopped, and it only comes out of my mouth when I really am sorry.
    As someone who works with children, I despair when I see my fellow teachers telling certain children to repeatedly say sorry for hitting/pushing someone, or for whatever bad behaviour, as to those kids, sorry means nothing, it’s just a word that placates and gets the adults off that child’s back for a little while!
    I prefer to get the kids to talk, and share why they may have behaved in a particular way, in the hope that they may one day understand why it was wrong, or unkind…

    1. Thanks Ritu, welcome to Emotional Shadows.
      It is a part of parental duty to stress upon the value of apology and modern parents understand it quite well, focusing more on the value than their own ego and self-respect. Children may not understand what is an apology and why it is necessary but when they live with this word in a judicious manner, they learn to respect it.
      I hear what you say about teachers…I have seen many such students and teachers who try to attack rather than understand what goes on in the minds of youngsters. I have talked to the so called notorious students, known to be unapologetic but few words of kindness soften them into tears and sincere apologies, resulting in deep respect for those who care to listen why their behavior is bad.
      Many thanks for sharing your perspective about this topic.

      1. We are at the beginning of education here – myself teaching 3-5 year olds… I only hope we are building a good foundation of understanding, trust and respect for the future. 😊

      2. It is most challenging to teach the age group you are handling…when the foundation is strong, we do get the best ‘nation builders.’ Wishing you great success Ritu. 🙂

  3. Thank you Balroop. This is a very thought provoking post. I find it easier to apologise as I age and learn life’s great lessons…
    Forgiveness sets me free to move forward …
    The fact that others may not change is the reality of life, so I need to welcome change and growth in myself.

    1. I agree with you Brigid, age mellows us down and we learn to respect the most important values of life. Peace of mind and seeking joy in the moments becomes our focus. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom. 🙂

  4. Such an in depth and true post on apology. An apology honestly meant should be met with open heart and mind.
    You list two types of apologies. I think we meet both types in our lives and the second one is no easier to live with than the first.
    I believe apologies carry great solace both received and given. Even if the hurt is from a misunderstanding.
    It is important not to let doubt and pain grow between oneself and others.
    I try hard to consider my words before uttering but nobody is perfect. 😊
    Thank you Balroop for taking up such an important subject to discussion. 🦋💕

    1. Miriam, it is interesting to note how everybody considers apology to be sincere. I think it can be seen in the eyes though some people are capable of putting up deceptive appearances.
      Thank you for sharing an important point of doubt and pain…both are deeply connected with the heart. While doubting the intentions may cause pain but this pain is essential for both the perpetrator and the victim to understand the need for a true apology.

  5. A wonderful post as you analyse the types of apologies and reasoning behind them..

    I have come across both, and I have to admit to have sometimes apologised when I knew I was not at fault, simple to bring about peace..

    But the more I have grown, both in adulthood and in Spirit.. I see learning to forgive others is a far greater attribute than waiting for them to apologise, especially if it comes back as insincere .
    ❤ Have a Peaceful Sunday dear Balroop .. ❤ Much Love

    1. Did you feel at peace after apologizing to accomplish peace? Sometimes we have to do it to save family ties but some issues never straighten out. Do you forget about them?
      I have learnt to forgive those who wronged me, judge me without actually knowing me or hating me for their own selfish pursuits. I don’t even want to know whether they are apologetic as I believe in Karma…I know they would have to face it one day. Thank for a meaningful conversation that you engage in each time dear Sue. Love and hugs.

      1. A valid point Balroop.. to be honest with you many years ago when I would apologise for ‘Peace’ no.. deep down it niggled and gnawed at me.. That I was often blamed for something that was nothing to do with me..
        It only comes through going deeper within ourselves.. Many years later.. Seeing that you can not change others, only yourself.. And you need to live in peace with yourself.. Learning to forgive others who would wound you, was not easy.. But I do believe in Karma.. And have learnt much in my adult years.. Blaming others is not the answer, nor is holding onto bitterness, as was the case with my own Mother.. She had her lessons to learn.. I learnt my own..
        And we can best help ourselves, when we learn that each path that crosses our own, brings with it our own learning experience..
        While I was often blamed.. and would apologise for nothing. It also taught me tolerance, courage, strength, and to keep silent and my own council ..
        Our paths cross so we can learn and grow from each other.. We chose to grow through our experiences Balroop.. My Mother chose not to.. Which sadly is her Karma..
        Always a delight to engage in discussion Balroop.. xxx Love and Blessings my friend xxx

      2. Many thanks dear Sue for responding to my query and sharing your words of wisdom, picked with experience…the agony of living through those moments of learning to forgive makes us resilient and patient. I agree with you, our own peace is most valuable. Love and hugs.

  6. Excellent advice, Balroop. I’ve had a few men in my life from the first category you describe. One who has never apologized and another who apologized to save face but it was rarely genuine. I really dislike when someone says sorry with a sing song sor-rrry! Like you’re being too sensitive…haha. Apologizing isn’t rocket science, yet many cannot do it properly. On the other hand, apologizing too much is a sign of lack of self esteem.

    You’ve laid this all out so eloquently. I wish I could send the link to said ‘people’ but truth is, they are in my past not present. I read somewhere that we should never wait in anger for an apology we’ll never get. I think that’s sound advice. 🙂 Thanks again, Balroop for a thought provoking post!

    1. Like I said earlier…let Karma catch them Lisa. Whatever goes comes back! Thanks for sharing the hurt, which is still buried somewhere in your heart. Sharing makes it go deeper and we tend to forget it till somebody touches upon the topic again. 🙂

  7. So much to comment on here, Balroop. I agree that sincerity is key, as well as that often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. I love your line: “The best apology is to change your behavior.” That’s wonderful advice and often a true measure of the authenticity of an apology as well as a commitment to growth. Lovely post. ❤

  8. “The best apology is to change your behavior”–I do agree, Balroop. And your tips on how to accomplish what may seem like such a monumental task are inspiring and doable! ❤ xo

  9. Sometimes it’s necessary Balroop. And it does help the relationship too. I do apology when it feels right. I used to do it often when I was married but it was for the wrong reasons, to have peace, and I promised myself that this won’t happen again.
    Some people never do it thought and believe that don’t have to, they are always right!
    As for forgivness, I am still learning it!
    Take care Balroop and thanks for this honest and interesting post.

    1. Thank you Marie for sharing your views on apology. I am glad you have wriggled out of those meaningless apologies that you were not comfortable with. As far as forgiveness is concerned, I too learnt it with great effort. There are times when anger and hurt sheath our eyes and we refuse to see the real purpose of forgiveness, which is actually beneficial for the forgiver, not the perpetrator.

  10. Very nice and wonderful post which most of the people don’t think about. To them sorry is just a word …no emotions or meaning attached to it. Truly I believe in a sincere apology and it should come out after realizing what was wrong and will not be repeated in future. As a kid I always tried to do everything right as I never wanted to say sorry to anyone. Or you can say I always wanted to be perfect although I know that we are not perfect but I always tried to be not in a situation where I have to apologize. I know its hard but it is not difficult at the same time to avoid such situation by respecting everybody’s views.Just to do your work sincerely without hurting anyone so that you don’t have to regret later.I know not saying sorry can be harmful in relations sometime but for me SORRY is a heavy word and I can’t apologize if I am not wrong:(…..but I do started accepting sorry from others even if they repeat same things again.(No choice when you can’t avoid them)

    1. Rightly said Daljeet…accepting sorry is wiser and undeserved apology is difficult to give. I am glad you liked this post. This topic is sure to extract response from those who believe in a true and sincere apology and who try their best to come up to the expectations of their near and dear ones. Yet they like to take advantage of one’s goodness!
      Thanks for the visit, I am so happy to see you here after a long time. At last I did write something that stirred you! My last post was also of your interest, you must check it. 🙂

  11. I value a sincere, heartfelt apology. Otherwise it just raises my ire that a person would treat an insult so lightly as to simply say a flippant ‘sorry!’ That being said, both my husband and I are quick to sincerely apologize if we’ve unintentionally hurt another. Which I value highly 😉 Good topic, Balroop. ❤

    1. I am glad you attach great value to the word ‘sorry’…relationships grow when we are honest and sincere in our dealings, whether it is apologising or respecting.
      Thank you Bela for your kind words. Stay blessed and have a wonderful week.

  12. Wonderfully thought provoking Balroop. I agree with all your points on reasons why some people can’t apologize because their egos get in the way of doing the right thing. Many of those types of people think it’s beneath them to apologize and in mean spirit choose to belittle others. I think you’ve summed it up succinctly my friend. 🙂 xx

  13. Excellent post dear Balroop… you are right as to the two types. Saying sorry often is a sort of strategy to avoid conflict and to leave things “in a good place”. But, one could notice when the person means it.
    I personally think that forgiveness entails peace of mind and a sort of redemption. Yes, we set ourselves free when we forgive others. Sending much love ❤

    1. Thank you dear Aqui…your kind words about apology and forgiveness resonate with me…though I have learned forgiveness with great effort. I appreciate your standing by to share your view. Love and hugs.

  14. Apologizing is so hard! As with many things, I am getting better at it, but mostly because I respect when my love is brave enough to tell me how sometimes I go overboard on certain things. As you state, the best apology is to change our behavior. Words mean nothing really in isolation. Actions mean so much. I am editing a book right now on creating conscious love. Being awake in life is not easy, but so worth it the growth it brings.

    1. I absolutely agree Jeri, apologizing is hard and harder when you feel it is not deserved…how people master this art is an enigma. Though I have tried to learn it, I still can’t apologize if I am not at fault. How can love be created consciously? Isn’t it reciprocal?

  15. I agree with each of your words here. These will exactly be my thoughts if I ever write on the topic. I think a fake apology is even worse than no apology because that reveals the hypocritical nature of the concerned person. I rarely apologize. But, when I do, I mean it.

    1. Rightly observed Mani…everyone can see through fake apology. Hypocrisy hides behind transparent glass, which may not shatter but is clear enough to reveal the truth.

  16. Balroop, a sincere apology, which is meant and also indicates understanding of wrong and intention to correct if possible is an apology I am happy to receive or give! To some, apologies are like breathing and given without thought or feeling, in which case the pain is doubled for the one so desperately in need of understanding and sincerity of emotion.

    So many brilliant points here, Balroop I could discuss for hours…an interesting and thought-provoking post. As an aside, I have great trouble with one usage of the word ‘sorry’. The habit of saying ‘sorry for your loss’ when someone has lost a close family or friend. It just feels so wrong! In Swedish it is common to say I am saddened for your loss…

  17. My sentiments Annika…I consider this word ‘sorry’ a useless word, used too much without any meaning. I also find it absurd to include this word while offering condolences. How could this word deal with the deep pain and grief that one is experiencing, it may not even be reaching the person who says ‘sorry for your loss.’ There was a time I didn’t know what to say at such an occasion and I asked my brother how to offer condolences. He told me exactly the same words… ‘so sad to hear about your loss’…though the words seem hollow to the one in grief but they do break an ice and start a conversation.

  18. This is such a wonderful post on a very important topic, Balroop! You hit the nail right on its head! We all seem to have met both kinds of apologizers and I can’t really tell which one I dislike more. For me an apology always had to come from the heart, it must be felt and also understood by the person either giving and receiving it. A false apology can cause much hurt and it’s vital that we can detect it and act upon it acorrdingly.

    1. While it may be difficult to act upon an apology that is fake, the only choice could be to detach emotionally from such a person who doesn’t value it or continues to hurt. Thank you Sarah for coming in to share your view. 🙂

  19. An apology can be effective only when it is well-meant. Fake apologies are deceptive and don’t prevent a recurrence of the hurtful event. The point that you’ve raised about forgiving ourselves is a very valid point, though it mostly applies to the more sensitive people. I loved the Three R’s – regret, responsibility and remedy. Thanks for spreading the positivity, Balroop. Have a wonderful Sunday.

    1. I am glad you have picked out this point Somali, it had gone unnoticed probably for the reason you have shared! We need to admit and introspect to understand the hurts we cause to others and forgive ourselves rather than living with the agony of having done something wrong. Thanks for sharing your insight. Stay blessed!

  20. It is often said that one word can change our life, here it is you wonderful narration sums it all; in fact life is a kaleidoscope of human relationships and we keep tearing and stitching the broken parts and also when forming a new relationship in life, we need the threading. The control of ego in our life is what we keep undermining and that is what keeps raising it ugly head when we need to mend our ways and amend any distorted relationships, and there are these constant events and engagement that keeps happening with us and we need to be vigilant and we need to be cognizant of nuanced aspect of emotions and feelings that adds tantalizing texture to the colours of the fabrics of human relationships.

    Apology, the word and the actions that follows after its usage, as you have so eruditely dissected its dual perspective. Indeed it has become fashionable for many just to employ the word to get things going and many times there is no connect between using it and the purpose of why one should be using this word and under what circumstances. I have experienced the power of using this word, and doing so with right intent and the outcomes are magical, and at the same time it also depends on the person on the other side who needs to take it the way it was offered with utmost genunity, and otherwise it defeats the good intent and gets into a vicious cycle of false propaganda behind the scene.

    Thanks Balroop for sharing an insightful dimension to a word that we have otherwise become so familiar, it is contemptuous, and that it’s use has otherwise become hackneyed.

  21. Many thanks for your in-depth analysis of the topic Nihar. I am amazed at the flow of your words, encompassing emotions, relationships and life as it unfolds. It seems you have profound understanding of every emotion as you can eloquently share your thoughts about them.
    I am glad that you understand the true meaning of apology and have seen magical results. You have summed it well dear friend…control ego and respect emotions! Thank you so much. Have a wonderful week.

  22. A meaningful apology by definition talks of a step towards improvement that they try for. Some people do try (in their defense, and with due credit to them) while some fail to do so.

    I try my best to improve but have been blamed many a times to have not done enough! I am not sure who would you blame then?

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