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In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explore seven key reoccurring themes in stories people share with me that highlight their complicated relationship with apologies.

  1. Believing that we’re unworthy of an apology when people don’t behave how we’d like them to after we’ve pointed out what they did wrong
  2. Assuming that an apology should lead to a change in behaviour
  3. Feeling obliged to press reset after receiving an apology
  4. Feeling guilty because someone has done us wrong and needs to apologise
  5. Backing down and then feeling bad when they don’t
  6. Believing that we don’t have to apologise to someone due to having given them a free pass in the past
  7. Believing that we can’t move on until we get the apology we’re waiting for

Some nuggets from the episode:

  • The first experiences of friendship with family members (siblings, cousins) or with our peers at school are often in the background of present-day experiences, sometimes affecting our ability to forge intimate relationships due to trust issues.
  • “When we apologise, it’s not always because we did something intentionally and with bad intentions. Sometimes we do things, and they are well-intentioned, but what results causes some level of issue, and even though it’s an unintended consequence, we can find ourselves in need of apologising.”
  • Sometimes [the apologiser] wants you to hurry the hell up and accept their apology so that they can get back to doing the very thing that they know you don’t like.
  • “It’s part of our intimate relationships that sometimes we’re going to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing, and we’re going to do our best to make amends, to make things right. And sometimes making things right is apologising — that acknowledgement, that recognition. As humans, we want to be seen. We want to be heard. In those moments when people don’t bother to recognise, to empathise with our position and where we’re coming from, to recognise and empathise with how what they’ve said or done has impacted on us, it makes us feel unseen. We feel devalued. We feel unrecognised.”
  • We have to take ownership of the narrative within — the things we say to and about ourselves in response to someone’s transgression or their lack of apology or remorse.
  • “The odds are that the very same charm that [a narcissist] used to get you on side, to build you up, and then to knock you back, is the very same charm that they’ll blow in, maybe use the crocodile tears, make all this noise and fanfare about how sorry they are… and then do exactly what caused you pain (or possibly far worse).”
  • We have to recognise that people react and respond to situations based on habit, not on what we think they should do. If someone has various experiences filed under apologising in their subconscious that are also associated with feelings of guilt and remorse, and those feelings trigger them into feeling defensive or ashamed, that will then cause a sequence of behaviours that won’t match what we want them to do.
  • On feeling baffled about people’s reactions to our disclosure of things that have been on our mind for some time: “That period of time where we’ve had time to figure out how we feel and think about something is way longer than the amount of time we’ve given the other person when we decide to disclose that.”
  • People shrink into themselves after they’ve upset someone. Example: ‘I don’t feel like a good friend.’
  • We have to be careful of assuming that we believe an apology means is the same as that person’s intentions.
  • “Creating healthier boundaries; learning the necessary boundary for that particular situation is how we each move on from something. This makes forgiveness much simpler because it becomes less about, ‘I grant you forgiveness. I have the power to forgive thee’, and more about, how do we, even if it’s only a teeny tiny adjustment, make some sort of adjustment to our emotional, mental, physical or spiritual boundaries that allows us to move forward with love, care, trust and respect?”
  • On the subject of feeling bad about someone needing to apologise to us: “In instances where we disregard our own needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions because we are afraid of owning our worth, of owning ourselves, and so it’s like, ‘Yes, I know that person’s done me wrong but I can’t cope with having the self-worth to recognise this, so I’m going to pretend that they haven’t’, we’re just doing ourselves a massive disservice.”
  • About backing down for the wrong reasons: “What we shouldn’t do is back down as a way to try to make the other person feel bad so that they can step up.”
  • If you’re able to recognise what’s wrong about a situation and learn what you can that helps you to have the better emotional, mental, physical and spiritual boundaries moving forward, you can accept the apology that you didn’t get.
  • Sometimes we need to apologise to ourselves for giving us a hard time about what somebody else has done.


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Please subscribe and/or leave a review on iTunes (how-to guide here) – it really helps in growing the show! If you’re new to podcasts, find out more about what they are and how to subscribe with this guide.

Listener questions can be emailed to podcast AT baggagereclaim DOT com and if there’s a topic you’d love me to talk about, let me know!

Nat xxx

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