“Sorry I’m not sorry,” while a funny saying on its own, is not a good way to apologize. It’s a variation on a theme that you see with celebrities and politicians on a regular basis: “Mistakes were made.” or “I’m sorry if what I said hurt some people.” Those are weasel words, insincere and grudging. A real apology takes skill, sincerity, and a willingness to redress the situation. It’s difficult to apologize, but so important to do it properly. Apologies are like the old joke about voting: do it early and often. It’s a skill, and one that’s used so rarely anymore that when done properly, it’s likely to have a real impact. By the way, the photo above of the apology card may be amusing, but sending a “fill in the blank” apology only works if you’re doing it facetiously – not to truly apologize.
It’s embarrassing to admit we’ve done something that deserves an apology. It gets in the way of our own (high) opinion of ourselves, and shame is a feeling enjoyed by none. We all have our pride, but if you’re going to move past the embarrassment and discomfort and regain a sense of personal integrity, it’s imperative to apologize properly.
To do that, you have to take full personal responsibility for your transgression, express your remorse for your failing, and do something to correct the situation you created. Excuses are not acceptable, but simple explanations can serve as a preamble IF they finish by accepting responsibility, as in “I just drove this car out of the showroom, and I was really angry when you smashed your bicycle into it, but I should never have punched you in the face for doing that.” You’re giving context to your behavior, but still taking responsibility for it.
The syntax of how one apologizes is important. Again, you must take personal responsibility, as in “I’m sorry I knocked you down in my rush to get to the door before you.” That is a real apology. “I’m sorry you were hurt” is not a real apology, because it sounds as if the person being knocked down was hurt in some way that had nothing to do with you.
After apologizing, you have to accept whatever response you get to your apology. If you receive a terse acceptance of your apology, don’t press for absolution. Often it’s best to wait a bit and let people cool off. It’s a rare person who can gracefully forgive a transgression immediately, even after a sincere apology. But it’s important to apologize again, after a time, to clear the air and prevent resentment from growing.
If you really aren’t sorry, then fake it. Give the most graceful apology you can muster. It may feel like chewing sand, but it will make the other person feel better, and eventually the angels of your nature will come around and you’ll be glad you did it.