The Power of an Apology

by | Jul 2, 2022 | Blog

This morning while trying to find a parking spot at the local farmer’s market, a cop pulled up next to me and yelled at me to move and not block traffic. I’d found what was the last spot on the block, and yes, I was mucking up the flow of traffic.

I moved ahead and parked a few blocks up. As I got out of my car, I saw that he’d pulled up next to me. He apologized for his tone, that he hadn’t meant to bark at me. And that yes, my attempt to park was backing up traffic on a busy road. Still, he was sorry for the way he spoke to me.

I thanked him for his apology, which felt sincere. I was blocking traffic. He was right to ask me to move. He also realized the tone of his words. Did he see something in himself that he didn’t like? It’s not for me to know and only for him to process.

As I walked down the sidewalk, I became teary. We as humans react. It was like he had given me a bundle of apologies I’d wanted to hear for a long time. Someone in authority realizing the impact of their words.


Apologies are funny things.


As a giver of one, it means we see the impact of our words and actions and look to make it right. Even when the other person may partly be in the wrong. It’s an act of making amends and clearing the energy.

Sometimes people don’t want to receive an apology. They’re attached to feeling attacked or wronged.

I had a recent experience with an old friend. A situation between us negatively impacted her. Nothing was done on purpose, yet she didn’t see it this way. I apologized multiple times. Face to face, via text, and in response to an email. Never once did she accept my apology.

It felt like she was more attached to feeling wronged and the story she seemed to create that what happened was deliberate. I spoke from my heart and it didn’t seem to matter.


Every relationship is an exchange of energy.


One thing I wasn’t going to do was to bend over to try to make something work that she obviously didn’t want. I wasn’t going to take on responsibility that wasn’t mine.

I cleared the energy from my side. Her way was to unfriend me on social media, without a word.

Moving through a situation takes time. Anger can be a good energy to work with to clear emotions, thoughts and feelings that come up to be processed.

But when you remain attached to the hurt and anger, it’s like drinking poison expecting the other person to die (Buddha).

The poison remains within. It creates a new layer of hurt that gets buried. Energy the ego uses to justify the trail of hurts. See … it happened again!


Few of us heard apologies from our parents or authority figures.


Apologies remain rare to this day.

“There are times when it feels like you could wait a thousand years for an apology from someone, and you know you’ll never receive it. Having the other person apologize may require them to explore their shame. They may not be able to admit they did something wrong, or they’re not emotionally capable.” ~ excerpt from The Impact of Silence

To make an apology means you see your side of a situation. You see the impact on the other, even if it’s innocent yet sharp words.


There’s a humbleness in saying you’re sorry.


If you didn’t receive apologies in your formative years, you probably weren’t taught how to give them, nor how to receive them. We do as we’ve learned via the environment of our upbringing.

Energy that festers from your formative years may be the exact subconscious energy that drives you today. The apology I received this morning carried a deeper energy for me and the officer provided an opportunity for me to look deeper into my own being.


There’s a grace to give or receive an apology.


If you make an apology to get yourself off the hook, the energy of it is empty. What remains is like an oil spill, a mess that remains to clean up.

But if you’ve done all you can and the other person won’t accept your apology, they may either be attached to their own underlying energy to justify continuing to feel how they feel, or they may be using the situation as an excuse to end a connection they already wanted to end.

People act and react based on their own stuff. Even when it impacts us, rarely do their actions have anything to do with us.

Part of receiving is to see that the other person meant no real harm in their action or words, and that you receive with humility.


We always have a choice of how to respond.


Do you want to remain attached to the energy of an old story, or do you want to use a situation as a catalyst to discover what’s underneath, driving your reaction? To use it as an opportunity to heal and let go.

The truth of the matter is there was really nothing left of the friendship. We’ve moved and grown in very different ways. I wish her well. Whether she does or doesn’t feel the same for me is up to her and none of my business.

This morning’s apology was a true gift.

Stephanie B. McAuliffe
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