Mental Health

How To Apologise If You Snapped At A Loved One

Snapping or lashing out is never the best reaction, and it can feel worse when you don’t know what to do afterward. If you’ve lashed out or snapped at a loved one, then here’s how to apologise to someone you deeply hurt.

By URLife Team
17 Nov 2023

It's a scenario many of us can relate to: the subtle buildup of irritability reaching an unforeseen boiling point. You might have been carrying around that simmering frustration for hours when, suddenly, a seemingly minor incident tips the scales. It could be your significant other returning without the crucial recipe ingredient you requested, your child neglecting to pick up a toy despite repeated reminders or just the mere presence of a loved one becoming a sudden trigger.


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Navigating relationships with parents, especially as an adult, can indeed stir up unexpected emotions that might resemble teenage angst. The complexities within mother-daughter or parent-adult-child dynamics often trigger varied feelings. It's understandable how, even after high school, you might catch yourself reacting in ways that mirror earlier conflicts—hanging up abruptly, showing frustration, or adopting a tone you wouldn't use with anyone else.


In a flash, words are spoken or even shouted, only for you to realise later—either through self-reflection or their reaction—that your outburst was unwarranted, and they didn't deserve that reaction.


Related story: How To Be More Mindful in Friendship


So, why do we tend to snap sometimes at people we love?

Experiencing anger or resentment toward a parent or a loved one can stem from valid reasons like abuse, emotional neglect, or unmet needs during your upbringing. Misdirected anger, whether it's a recent occurrence or a long-standing pattern, can significantly poison your most meaningful relationships. The aftermath of rage, typically laced with shame and regret, forms a detrimental cycle, repeatedly impacting you. It's crucial to recognize that anger itself isn't inherently wrong or something to eliminate. In fact, it can serve as a powerful force, empowering you to take necessary actions—such as setting boundaries, refusing harmful behaviour, or ending toxic relationships.


However, when anger remains unchecked and becomes uncontrollable, reacting in ways that harm those closest to you, it becomes problematic. Society often discourages the expression of anger, particularly in women who are often taught to suppress it. Yet, properly examined and managed, anger can be a catalyst for positive change rather than a destructive force within relationships.


The passage of time can make reaching out seem both daunting and necessary. Maybe it's worth considering reaching out to your loved ones with an earnest attempt to reconcile, showing your genuine regret for the past and a sincere desire to mend things. It might not be easy, but sometimes taking that step can lead to unexpected healing and reconnection.


Related story: Anger Management: How To Control Anger


How To Apologise To Someone You’ve Snapped At

There's a natural desire to mend relationships, but it's not always easy, especially when admitting fault feels challenging. It's interesting, though, how genuine efforts to make amends can significantly impact reconciliation. According to a 2014 study issued in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that when there is involvement an apology, restitution, or other acts of contrition, can impact the victim's perception of the transgressor's value as a partner in the relationship. Such actions signal a willingness to make amends and demonstrate a commitment to repairing the relationship, thus influencing how the victim views the transgressor's sincerity and dedication to the connection.

1. Taking a breather is key

After an argument, give it time. Let emotions settle and wounds heal before attempting to address the situation. Rushing back in too soon might reignite the conflict, leading to a cycle of arguments. Waiting allows both parties to regain composure and reflect on what occurred. Time can be a valuable ally in resolving conflicts.


2. Find a healthy release

It's natural to feel frustrated after an argument, so find ways to release that tension. Venting can help, but it's essential to do it constructively. Avoid badmouthing your friend to everyone; confide in a trusted person instead. Expressing frustrations aloud can aid in processing emotions, offering clarity and focus as you work toward rebuilding the relationship.


3. Set aside the ego

Egos can hinder communication. Strive to shed defensiveness and be vulnerable, preparing yourself to listen and understand your friend's or loved one’s perspective without criticism.


4. Initiate contact

Don't hesitate to reach out first. Taking the first step to reconnect can be less daunting than it seems. Dwelling on blame stalls progress. Focus on acceptance and moving forward rather than pointing fingers.


Related story: 10 Tips To Manage Anger


5. Visualise forgiveness

This is very important. Envision forgiveness before engaging in conversation. Set a peaceful tone and convey intentions rooted in reconciliation.


6. Apologise with appropriate gesture

Consider phrasing your apology along the lines of, "I regret snapping at you," or "I apologise for failing to pick you up as promised." Expressing, "I feel awful about overlooking our plans," or "I'm disappointed in how I treated you," communicates that your mistake has also impacted you, not solely because the other person is upset.


7. Offer to make amends

Even if you feel partially at fault, offering an apology can ease tension and demonstrate a willingness to make amends. Rather than opting for traditional gestures like flowers or chocolates, consider making amends in a way that directly addresses the mistake. Offering assistance with a presentation or suggesting to replace a ruined item, like a skirt, shows that you recognise your error and are committed to rectifying it yourself. This approach signifies your understanding of the situation and your willingness to take responsibility for resolving it.


8. Give them space to consider

After offering a sincere apology and making amends, it's crucial to allow the injured party space and time to process and accept the apology. Continuously bombarding them with pleading voicemails or excessive attempts at reconciliation can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Respecting their need for space demonstrates your understanding and allows them the room to consider and eventually accept the apology at their own pace.


Related story: A Guide on Anger Management


What Not To Say

  1. "It's not a big deal": Dismissing your partner's feelings minimises their emotions and can worsen the situation. Acknowledge their hurt, regardless of your perspective on the issue.
  2. "I can make this better for you": Offering solutions might come off as patronising. Sometimes, your partner needs to understand more than a fix to their problem.
  3. "You don't make sense": Dismissing their perspective invalidates their feelings. Even if you disagree, respecting their viewpoint is essential in resolving conflicts.
  4. Silence or avoidance: Ignoring the issue won't resolve it. Instead, communicate if you need time to cool down before continuing the conversation.


Taking responsibility involves acknowledging your mistake without using phrases that shift the blame or downplay the impact. Phrases like "I'm sorry if you were hurt" or "I'm sorry you were upset" can undermine the sincerity of your apology. Instead, strive to acknowledge your actions and show a genuine understanding of how they affected your partner.


Don't expect immediate apologies or validation. Act out of unconditional love, understanding that reciprocation might not happen right away. Despite your efforts, be prepared for various outcomes. If genuine reconciliation doesn't materialise, maintain an open door but prioritise your well-being and boundaries.


Overall, these gestures play a crucial role in reshaping the victim's perceptions, fostering a path toward forgiveness, and reducing the intensity of negative emotions like anger or resentment within the relationship. Ultimately, your guide emphasises empathy, understanding, and proactive steps toward reconciliation, while also acknowledging the importance of personal boundaries and self-care in the process.


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