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How to Apologize When You Are Wrong

If you’re like many people in recovery, you carry a lot of guilt with you. Much of the apologizing you’ll do in recovery will be after you’ve completed the first four steps. These steps are not things you should rush and you and your sponsor should decide when you’re ready to make amends to others. However, in your day-to-day life, you can begin to take responsibility and learn to apologize when you’re wrong. After all, you’re only human, and everyone makes mistakes. Now that you’re sober you can make these mistakes and learn from them. So what is the best way to apologize when you have done something wrong?

Why Apologize?


Many people with addiction issues have caused a lot of hurt when they were drinking or using drugs, whether they meant to or not. Addiction can wreak havoc on your relationships and your personal life. Now that you’re sober you may find yourself making mistakes that are similar to the patterns you had when you were using. It’s hard to change your behavior and it doesn’t happen overnight. And that’s okay! However, when you’ve done something that hurts another person’s feelings, today is a chance to apologize right away. Recovery is about being accountable for your actions.

Apologizing for something helps you take responsibility for your actions. It also signals to other people that you are willing to change and you care about their feelings. This is why you should apologize even if you didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

Apologizing Is About Their Feelings, Not Yours

Apologizing to somebody you’ve hurt isn’t about your feelings, it’s about theirs. Yes, you can feel good when you take responsibility for your own actions. But you can apologize even when it doesn’t feel good to do so, because it’s the right thing to do. For example, you may snap at your mother because you feel like she is treating you like a child. Snapping at her hurts her feelings- after all, she stuck with you no matter what and tried to help you.

You may still feel infantalized when your mother treats you in certain ways. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apologize for hurting her feelings.

Suggestions for Apologies

So,how can you apologize when you’ve done something wrong? Here are some suggestions to help you make an apology.

  • First, take the time to take stock of the situation. What exactly did you do wrong? How did it affect the other person?
  • Exercise empathy. Imagine if you felt the way the other person feels. Do you feel bad that they feel this way? Allow yourself to feel remorse for your actions, but don’t wallow in them.
  • Start with a clear “I’m sorry” statement. State what you did, and how it made them feel. For example, “I’m sorry I snapped at you when you asked me to help you with the groceries. I know it hurt your feelings.”
  • Promise you’ll try to do better. Admit that you will still probably make a few mistakes in the course of your recovery, but that you are working on changing.
  • Practice your apology if you’re afraid you’ll blow it. Ask your sponsor or a friend to help.

People make mistakes both in and out of recovery. When you’re in recovery, it’s your job to own your mistakes and grow from them. There’s nothing to be ashamed of! Every human alive makes mistakes and has character defects. As you grow in your recovery program, you’ll learn to act less impulsively, and make fewer mistakes.

If you’re not sure what to do when you’ve hurt somebody’s feelings, speak to your sponsor. You’re never alone and there are many people who have gone through similar situations in recovery. They can point you in the right direction and help you make amends.

Consider Sober Living

In sober housing, you can be among your peers and learn to live life on its own terms. You’ll also develop meaningful friendships, learn to take responsibility, and learn to have fun in sobriety. Give us a call to learn if our programs are right for you. Reach out at 760-216-2077.



Read Full Bio
Mark Gladden
CEO / Founder
Mark Gladden is the founder of By The Sea Recovery, a sober living facility located in beautiful San Diego, California. After struggling with addiction, Mark finally found recovery and a new purpose in life, to help others who are battling the same battle he faced.
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