Is “I’m Sorry” Enough?
Have you ever received an apology from someone who hurt you that just didn’t feel like enough?
Has anyone ever said to you, “I said I’m sorry! Isn’t that enough for you?” and it wasn’t?
We are going to look at the five elements that make up a quality apology through Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas’ book When Sorry Isn’t Enough.
We hope this book review will help you better understand how to give and receive an apology that sticks.
Let’s get right to it.
According to When Sorry Isn’t Enough, there are five fundamental aspects of an apology.
In this review, we will share a brief overview of each element. We recommend reading the full book, When Sorry Isn’t Enough, in order to gain a deeper perspective on an apology, how to apologize, how to receive an apology, and which of the elements you personally tend to desire most. There’s even a quiz to learn your own personal ‘apology language’ much like Chapman’s famous Love Languages.
1. Expressing Regret
These words are only the first piece of the apology puzzle, though many people would stop here. It’s important to outwardly express regret for how you have wronged another person, whether it was your intention or not.
“Apology is birthed in the womb of regret.”
2. Accepting Responsibility
“I was wrong.”
This is a difficult statement for many people. It takes humility and maturity to admit your mistakes, accept responsibility for your behavior, and choose to set things right.
“All of us make mistakes, but the only mistake that will destroy you is the one you are unwilling to admit.”
3. Making Restitution
“How can I make it right?”
There is a clear ‘call to action’ in this element of an apology. It’s not just about what you say, but what you do. This would be a great time to brush up on your Five Love Languages in order to love your spouse in a way they will appreciate. It’s time to find out how you can show them you still care.
“A genuine apology will be accompanied by a desire to right the wrongs committed, to make amends for the damage done, and to assure the person you truly care about him or her.”
4. Genuinely Repenting
“I want to change.”
True repentance requires change. Most importantly, it involves a heart change. Behavior modification alone will probably result in repeated offenses. But, when you truly desire to change, you will decide to ask God to change your heart for good.
Once you have an intent to change, it’s time to implement a plan. Often, people will express a repentant heart but fail to create a plan to follow through on lasting change.
“Admitting wrong and confessing that wrong to God and another trusted person does require both humility and honesty but gives the opportunity to begin anew.”
5. Requesting Forgiveness
“Can you find it in your heart…”
Ask for forgiveness. Chapman and Thomas share three reasons why asking for forgiveness is so important:
-It indicates to someone that you want to see the relationship restored in some way
-It shows that you realize you have done something wrong, whether intentionally or not
-It shows you are willing to put the future of the relationship in the hands of the offended person
“Forgiveness is always to be requested but never demanded. A gift that is demanded is no longer a gift.”
So, the next time you are tempted to say “I’m sorry” and assume it’s enough, stop and remember that the words are only the beginning of the process of apology.
There’s a lot of great wisdom in the book When Sorry Isn’t Enough. We recommend picking up a copy, taking the quiz at the end, and reading further into the details of each element of an apology. I don’t know about you, but I can always use a refresher on humbly admitting wrongs and genuinely apologizing.
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