But what if you did something that hurt someone else? What if what you did hurt them physically, emotionally or mentally?
It takes courage to apologize!
It takes a lot of courage to say you are sorry about something. Courage is feeling the fear and doing what is right any way. Even when it feels scary, you can do the right thing.
If you just say "sorry" with out meaning it, it is meaningless. You must mean it.
When you have hurt someone and you are sorry, you have to be clear that you will do your best not repeat what you did. We all make mistakes and for sure we're all going to say stupid things that will hurt others even when we didn't mean to. We have to do the best we can and go from there.
What if what you did or said was not so simple?
If what you did was severe and you need help to stop behavior that hurts other people -- and hurting yourself hurts other people--ask for help. Ask for help until you get the help you need. What ever shame you might feel when you do something hurtful can be healed. First you need to bring light to the dark places. Dark places are shame, pain, hurt--your own and others. Sweeping the pain under the rug doesn't heal it or make it go away. Time will help heal, but not until you clean the wounds. The first step is to feel and say you are sorry. You can say "I'm sorry and I want to ask for your forgiveness." You can say it, you can write it in a note. Just mean it.
Do not expect forgiveness. Lots of things are forgivable. Some things are not so easily forgiven. Sometimes saying sorry fixes things in a relationship. Sometimes the relationship ends for what ever reason. It's still good to say sorry even if you will never see the person again.
Being sorry when you've done something to hurt someone else is a good thing. It signals when we are on track or off course with who we need and want to be in the world. It's a first step at least.
In some situations, sorry isn't enough. Sometimes there are other actions a person needs to take to fix what was damaged. Sorry is a great place to start.
When you do something to help yourself or someone else heal the hurt places, you are bringing light into the world in a real way. That's a big deal.
You can do this.
Thank you to ariadna and Morguefile.com for the great photo.