Apologies relieve life stress

You know that you were wrong. You realize that you made a mistake. It occurred to you that "this time," someone else was right or that they were telling the truth.

Yet, you cannot bring yourself to say the words. You know the words, but you reason that to say them would somehow concede defeat and be too much of an acknowledgment that you were wrong.

Pride can be a heavy burden; one that can destroy relationships with others and leave you weighed down with regret. To admit that you were wrong is not to throw in the white flag of surrender; rather it is a sign of victory through humility.

The words "I am sorry" or "I was wrong" or "I apologize" can be the most freeing words ever to leave your lips. They give you victory over self-righteousness and pride. They negate that ego that feeds on selfish stubbornness and unexplored insecurities. Those words can begin the process for healing wounds, mending broken relationships and salvaging cherished friendships.

To admit when we are wrong and to offer a sincere apology to someone does not make us weak in any way. It is not an insult to our character. On the contrary, to take responsibility for our actions actually shows strength of character.

I believe that in many cases, our reluctance to admit when we are wrong has much to do with our unwillingness or inability to accept that someone else was right. Sometimes, the reluctance is as a result of fear of being seen as incompetent or not as smart. In instances like these, an admission of error or fault can hurt our self-esteem. However, the sooner that we realize that saying "I am sorry" or "I was wrong" does more to build, than to destroy, the better off we will be.

Apologizing when you have made a mistake or have been inconsiderate of someone else's feelings can eliminate a tension filled situation quicker than anything else I know. Why is this? This phenomenon exists because it takes humility and self-awareness to do what is right when you have been wrong -- two of the ingredients for growth. There is also a demonstration of empathy when you say "I am sorry" in that you are considering how you yourself would feel to hear those words if the "shoe were on the other foot."

Realize today that it is OK to be wrong sometimes, but it is never OK not to take responsibility for it. It is important to understand that we are not perfect and that even our good intentions can inadvertently offend someone, or fail in some other way that causes pain or disappointment. The key is to always be willing to acknowledge these instances when they are brought to your attention either by someone else or your intuitive inner voice.

Acknowledgment might be the most important step in making an apology because it carries with it no excuse. It is simply taking into account the feelings of another person and owning the responsibility while also allowing that person to own their feelings.

It is in this step that we understand that it is not about hollow words, but about sincere regard for others. It is in this step of acknowledgement that we grow and become better players in the game of life where we are constantly interacting and reacting with and to one another.

Make an apology today and release the burden that hinders growth.

Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at ln_dunn@yahoo.com.