A True Apology

One of my biggest pet peeves is the way many adults teach children to apologize. It’s usually something like this. Well-meaning adult says, “Say you’re sorry.” Offending kid while looking down at the ground grudgingly says, “Sorry.” Offended child looks at them and says, “It’s okay.” Well-meaning adult says, “Now hug and y’all play nice.” Both kids grudgingly hug and say, “Okay.” Then, I roll my eyes at the whole exchange….

Image of a closeup of a person holding a pen with the word Sorry and a heart on the paper. Text states: Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist A true apology comes from the heart. It is vulnerable, remorseful, and sincere. mdillondesigns.com Share.

Side note….. One of the “gifts” of executive dysfunction associated with ADHD is being too easily distracted to focus and complete tasks—regardless of their importance. One of the other gifts of ADHD is random, unpredictable moments of “hyperfocus,” where I can work extended hours without fatigue. It’s REALLY important to take full advantage of those moments and get tons of work done, and I did, BIG TIME….. Okay, here’s the point of the side note….

I may, or may not have pulled a 36+ hours all-nighter yesterday. So I was just sitting here feeling all kinds of rundown after waking from a much needed, “how long was I asleep?,” “What year is this?”, responsibility-ignoring nap. In my mind, I was apologizing to my inner child for not taking better care of myself, and I began to think about the components of a true apology.

So here’s my take on what’s necessary in a true apology. Whenever I really feel sorry, I am:

– Aware (of what I did wrong),

– Willing to Acknowledge (say what I did wrong),

– Compassionate (I care that I did it and it’s impact),

– Remorseful (I am not pleased with myself that I did it),

– Willing to be Vulnerable (I am open to their response),

– Committed to change.

I don’t want an apology where the person flares up and defends their actions. Come back to me when you can make the apology about me and not you. In my opinion, if a person is still defending themselves during an apology, they are not ready to apologize. Whether we had good reason or not, the apology is about allowing the other person to process the offer. We don’t get to bully a person into accepting saying, “It’s okay.” It’s not okay. There would be nothing to apologize for if it was okay.

So here’s an example of a true apology, in my opinion.

“Hey, I was thinking about when I said ____________. I was wrong. That was mean and I can only imagine how that hurt your feelings. I never want to do or say anything to hurt you and I truly apologize. I am asking for your forgiveness, in your own time. From now on, I am committed to being more loving and intentional with my words.” It’s not a perfect apology, but it’s sincere.

Now, just because we are ready to put an incident behind us doesn’t mean that the other person is. We had time to process it, but if we just brought it to them, we need to be patient and allow them to process our words and offer. This is one of the things that irks me when I see the way many couples process things after one person has cheated. So often the person who cheated apologizes but is not humble, vulnerable and patient with their partner by allowing them the time, conversations, questions, etc. necessary to process the offense. I think it’s less than loving to demand acceptance of an apology. I feel like more couples would survive trust breeches, if there was more compassion, patience, and vulnerability from the ones who committed the act of infidelity….

One last thing. I feel that an apology is an offer to the person we’ve offended to take this new information we are offering to process the offense. It bothers me when I see coaches tell the offended party to accept the apology in the same moment it was offered. Just like the person who apologized had time to process what happened, what it meant, and what things will look like moving forward, the person receiving the apology should be given an opportunity to process the offer. They should not be guilted for not immediately hugging you and saying, “It’s okay.” I believe that’s the reason why after an apology is accepted that couples end up having the conversation come up and more questions surface. The person didn’t take adequate time to process through the meanings and the stories and the conclusions. If vulnerability, patience and humility are offered on the front end, then enough time to process is offered so most of the questions get answered and the conversation can truly be settled.

I hope my thoughts on this helps someone. So many of our families and relationships are sitting on shaky foundations because we are not having true conversations. We’re afraid to be vulnerable and constantly defending ourselves, rather than sit through the discomfort of allowing our loved ones to process their hurt. I believe that uncomfortable conversations handled with love are so necessary toward the healing of our families. I just wanted to share my thoughts and I pray that you or someone you share this with will read these words and reconsider what a true apology looks like and see opportunities to offer a little more love.


Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist


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Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist is a single mom who lovingly shares her insights here for free. BuyMeACoffee offers readers a great way to support her work. You can securely send her a gift (a cup of matcha) as a thank you for this post. Simply tap the photo. Then, to the right of the screen, choose “Support” (to send her a one-time gift) or “Membership” (to give monthly). You can even add a thank you message! Blessings!

Check out our new collaborative venture SISTAMoms Global™, LLC! Yvonne Monique Livingston LLC and Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist have joined forces to bring more love to our world. We are two single moms committed to healing our communities by healing families. We are visiting schools and community organizations teaching the art of healthy communication between peers, parents, and children.

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Published by Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Marlene Dillon is the CEO of MDillon Designs & Publishing. I teach girls to believe in themselves and choose relationships that support their goals. I teach children that their dreams are possible and that they are lovable. I teach parents to communicate with their children in healthy ways. In short, I.U.S.E. people. Inspire. Uplift. Support. Empower.

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