The Psychology of The Apology

Many of you have heard of “The 5 Love Languages,” a concept-turned-book made familiar by Gary Chapman. To its testament, it has saved hundreds of marriages, friendships, acquaintance-ships, and general relationships. It uses a simple test of scenarios to determine a person’s most accurate style of receiving and giving love. The five love languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts. A person can have one main love language, or a combination of the dialects.

Now, we are all human, and whether through vice, malice, or neglect we can fail to love each other. When this happens, an apology is due. Chapman also explains that there are 5 apology languages in his book, “When Sorry Isn’t Enough,” to aid this decision. They are Express Regret, Accept Responsibility, Make Restitution, Genuinely Repent, Request Forgiveness.

Apologizing and loving are two sides of an important coin called healthy relationships. Honed skills in both areas are extremely valuable and contribute to quality of life.

There are three things you must remember when approaching these languages–and life, really:

  • Don’t apologize for being yourself. If someone makes you feel insecure, inadequate, or insignificant, respect yourself enough to walk away with the truth: you are loved beyond comprehension. Feeling an emotion is not wrong, but the discipline of action resulting from that emotion could be.

  • Apologize for not being the best version of yourself, which the world deserves as a matter of justice. You were created with special talents in which to grow, special gifts which you are to use, and a good nature coexisting with the reality of evil. There are times to apologize for a weakness in character, and times to apologize for being an instrument in assisting the spread of malevolence.

  • The combination of these two practices will help you actualize your capacity for love, without fail. Befriend Time and learn to waltz within its freedom that “sooner rather than later” affords.

Apologies are sincerely difficult. There’s no way around that. They require certain humility, gratitude, and sensitivity, which seem insurmountable in comparison to the harm caused. Apologies often present themselves as dramatic when one has done wrong, both in emotion and circumstance.

The way to combat this difficulty is two-fold.

  • Cultivate inner self-knowledge. Look at your faults and fears with as much zeal as you caress your strengths and triumphs. Understand yourself exactly where you are, and not as you were or want to be. A flower cannot blossom without the rest of the plant’s dedication.

  • Practice. Start with the small things, however silly they may seem, like apologizing for not caring about making noise for your roommates in your morning routine. Remain genuine, and you will gain strength for the more difficult trials.

There is one other thing I’d like to distinguish, having particular significance to the Christian understanding of sin. Sin is the deliberate turning away from the love of God in pride and self-will. Repetitive habit of this turning away manifests itself as “vice” (to which the natural antidote is a habitual “virtue”).

Sin and vice are morally different from “imperfections” and hold different weights of impact for the actor. Imperfections in character result from immature formation, occasional sloth (sadness at the difficulty in obtaining the good), and lack of experience. They are not sinful in themselves, but may still bear responsibility for hurts. Learn to discern these differences, and act in the appropriate language of apology when necessary. Bon chance!