The only time to apologize is when you’re genuinely remorseful.
Avoid any apology that is forced. The person you are apologizing to will pick up on your insincerity, causing further feelings of distrust.
In order to show your sincerity when apologizing, you must be honest and vulnerable. That can lead to the cultivation of meaningful relationships. It can also lead to rejection, which is what makes it so scary.
When you apologize, be willing to share openly and candidly, allowing emotions to flow freely, so that you can be fully seen.
Take responsibility for your actions and admit your mistakes or transgressions. State them out loud. Yes, it will be scary. It will feel shameful for a time. But it is worth it.
... and the reasons it was wrong.
This is not to be confused with offering excuses for your actions.
State your understanding of the reasons this was not the best choice and how the choice (or series of choices) affected both you and the other person.
Take care to avoid blaming others for your mistakes. Use statements that are about you rather than others involved, by starting your sentences with “I.”
Have you ever had someone attempt to apologize to you who never actually said, “I’m sorry”? If so, you know how infuriating that can be.
An effective apology always includes the verbal acknowledgement that you are sorry.
The person receiving the apology will want to know how you plan to make things right again in order for them to start rebuilding trust and moving forward.
State what you will do differently next time, to avoid repeating this type of transgression.
... the other person toward forgiveness.
Now that your part is done, the only thing left to do is to sit back and wait. Work to release the guilt and let go of the desire to be forgiven.
The person you apologized to must have time and space to collect their thoughts and decide for themselves what is best.
By recognizing and acknowledging your faults and attempting to make amends to the injured party, you are taking the high road. This demonstrates your strength, courage, compassion, and wisdom.