Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

I’ve written about why it’s not good to say, “I’m sorry” out of habit, if you’re not sorry. DoorMats apologize whether they did something wrong or not. They often apologize for everything that goes wrong, whether they caused the problem or not, just because they were there. But leaving DoorMatville doesn’t mean leaving all courtesy behind.  

While it’s important to stop saying “I’m sorry” for the wrong reasons, it’s just as necessary to say it for the right ones.

If you do something that hurts someone else, say you’re sorry. Even if you didn’t mean to hurt them, an apology is warranted. Even if you didn’t even realize that what you were doing bothered someone, it’s important to clear the air with an apology. If you don’t, the person can have an open wound because of what you did. Saying “I’m sorry” can help them heal and provide closure.

Sometimes we have to do things that hurt others but they must be done.

You may have to end a romantic relationship because you know it’s not right for you or end a business arrangement that’s going nowhere or move and leave a roommate stuck to find someone for your room or have to lay off employees or not be able to pay someone what you promised because you simply don’t have it. DoorMats would stay in situations they don’t like to avoid hurting the person or hide if they don’t have the money. A Nice Person on Top owns it, and gives a sincere apology for not being able to make a relationship–business or pleasure–work, or for having financial problems.

Ducking out creates worse feelings. Avoiding someone you stopped working or playing with just makes them feel worse if you don’t say you’re sorry. When you do, make it heartfelt and not like you’re just giving lip service to assuage any guilt. You don’t have to apologize for what you did if you’re not sorry it happened or couldn’t help it. Acknowledge being sorry for how what you did made the person feel, such as:

    * I’m sorry I hurt you by breaking up but it’s better we ended it before things got worse.
    * I’m sorry that putting you in the position I did affected you negatively.
    * I’m sorry I inconvenienced you by having to move.
    * I’m sorry you had problems because of how I handled a situation.

Don’t apologize directly for what you did if you know it was the right thing to do. But do show remorse for the person’s feelings and the position your actions put them in. As in all situations, watch your words. Even if a situation happened some time ago, it may not be too late to apologize and mend bad feelings. An apology sends out good energy, if it’s sincere and heartfelt, even if the person doesn’t accept it or respond as you’d like.

Plus, saying you’re sorry for something you really are sorry about helps bring closure for you.

Acknowledge a persons’ feelings and then let it go. You can’t do everything to please everyone. You must please YOU first and accept that in some situations, someone will be hurt, inconvenienced or disappointed and that’s just life. You can only do your best and can’t sacrifice what you need for the sake of always doing what’s best for others. Own what you did, apologize, and move on knowing you did your best!

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