The Worst Thing You Can Say During An Apology (And What To Say Instead)

"I never meant to hurt you."

Chances are, you’ve had to apologize plenty of times in your life. And there’s a good chance you’ve also uttered the phrase, “I never meant to hurt you.”

Stop doing that, says author Caroline Myss.

In a talk for OWN’s SuperSoul Sessions speaker series, Myss ― a spiritual seeker, researcher and intuitive ― took on the topic of forgiveness and healing, and explained in no uncertain terms why “I never meant to hurt you” is never a sufficient apology, no matter who it comes from.

“Picture that person coming up to you and saying, ‘Wow, bummer. I’m sorry I did this, but, you know, I never meant to hurt you. And, hey, can we just call it a day?’” Myss says.

As tempting as it can be to move on and bury the hatchet, that type of apology won’t sit well with the person on the receiving end. “That whole little thing ― ‘I never meant to hurt you’ ― that’s the thing you can’t forgive,” she says. “It goes right to your soul, that toxic, sick feeling.”

Instead, Myss says it’s important to approach the conversation differently. Ultimately, it’s about offering more than an apology. It’s about sharing a soul-to-soul confession.

“Let’s redo the scene,” Myss says. “[The person] comes up to you and says... ‘I need to tell you something. I consciously knew what I was doing. I consciously knew it, and I have to call it something else: I sinned against you. It was a sin. I heard my conscience tell me not to do this and I didn’t listen. It didn’t matter to me. And I know that my actions redirected the course of your life. It was conscious. It was a sin, because it was conscious. And how much it hurt you did not stop me. This is not a boo-boo. This is not an apology. I am confessing my soul to you, and I’m asking now for your forgiveness.’”

Even saying those words on stages makes Myss visibly emotional, and she points out that this is how deeply within the soul apologies are supposed to resonate.

That’s what heals,” she says.

Another healing insight from Myss:

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