When apologies seem psychologically threatening - Deepstash
We all know people who just can’t apologize — well, here’s why

We all know people who just can’t apologize — well, here’s why

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When apologies seem psychologically threatening

For the people who can never admit they’ve misstepped, no matter the circumstance, admitting wrongdoing and offering an apology is too psychologically threatening.

Offering an apology implies that they’ve harmed another person in some way, which can elicit feelings of shame.

Why we fail to apologize

Why we fail to apologize

Even the most conscientious among us occasionally fails to apologize. When this happens, it’s usually for one of two reasons: 

  • We don’t care enough about the other person or the relationship to take on the emotional discomfort of owning our mistake and apologizing for it
  • We believe our apology won’t matter.

The psychology of admitting our mistakes

Psychologically speaking, admitting that we’re wrong is emotionally uncomfortable and painful to our sense of self. In order to take responsibility and apologize, our self-esteem needs to be strong enough for us to absorb that discomfort. If our self-esteem is higher and stable, we can tolerate the temporary ding that such an admission involves — without the walls around our ego crumbling.

But if our self-esteem is seemingly high but actually fragile, that ding can pierce through our defensive walls and score a direct hit to our ego. The more rigid one’s defense mechanisms are, the more fragile the ego they’re protecting.

Guy Winch

"If the non-apologizer is a close connection, tap into your empathy and compassion. Remind yourself that beneath their stubborn exterior, they are incredibly vulnerable."


Misinterpreting the lack of an apology

Unfortunately, many of us mistakenly interpret the fragility-driven defensiveness of the people that cannot issue apologies as a sign of psychological strength.

That’s because outwardly they appear to be tough individuals who refuse to back down. But they don’t do this because they’re strong — it’s because they’re weak. 

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