It's OK to be sorry

"Remember Love Means Saying You’re Sorry"

When you are trying to understand rather than be understood, you are pushing yourself further away from a relapse. The beginning of understanding may actually involve your apology and willingness to make amends. There was a hit movie in the 1970's starring Ryan O’Neil and Allie McGraw, that many deem a classic, called “Love Story.” It was a romance between a poor girl and a rich boy. At one point, the poor girl says, “Don’t you know Ollie,... Love means you never have to say you’re sorry.” That quote was often repeated by young married couples - as the divorce rate escalated. The truth is that anyone who uses that quote is doomed to make the other person feel worse. This is true for two fundamental reasons: first, it assumes that the person refusing to say he or she is sorry is perfect, and we all know that perfect people only exist in the movies. Second, the above quote encourages partners (and adversaries) to stifle verbal communication and to take the other person’s feelings for granted. Often relationship breakdown occurs because we expect perfection from others even though we know that we all have subjective points of view and we all make mistakes. These mistakes cause wars, divorce, hurt feelings and negotiation breakdown. So the first step in trying to understand others is to remember that the other person is imperfect and incapable of behaving in exactly the way that you expect him or her to behave. To improve relationships, search for the point during the relationship where you hurt the other person’s feelings, remembering that we can injure feelings even when we were absolutely justified in what we said or did. It is important to focus on what we may have done, rather than merely trying to prove the other person wrong. Proving someone wrong makes them feel bad. The sad truth is the overwhelming majority of people are just not wise and callous enough to accept being proved wrong, and they may hold this bad feeling against you. Often we do the most damage to a relationship when we believe we are right or when we feel most justified in what we say or do. Righteousness and justification can work hell on interpersonal relationships. Righteousness and justification are frequently the stuff of our real enemy, the ego. When you take your inventory, you may find that righteousness and justification may be causing you resentments and are character defects that you may want to humbly ask your Higher Power to remove. If this is the case, you may conclude that you need to make amends to the person whose feelings you wish to heal and say something like “when I said that you were wrong and then I insisted that such and such was the only way, well, I am sorry I said that. I was insensitive and I’m sorry. Furthermore, I will try to change.” Even if the other person does not immediately forgive you - even if you are mistaken as to whether you apologized about something that in fact hurt the other person’s feelings - you’ll make the other person feel better because the other person will know that you care enough about him or her to say you’re sorry.


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It's OK to say you're sorry to others even if you feel they wronged you. Ask your Sponsor if you are ready to make amends to others. When you change by making amends, people will gradually trust you.