Are we sorry because (1) we committed the wrong in the first place? Or, are we sorry that (2) we committed the wrong, got caught, and ultimately hurt someone in the process?
I choose door #2.
My opinion is when we get caught doing wrong and then we apologize for said wrong, that apology is worthless. To me, it is insincere and empty. The question raises for me: would you have continued in your behavior if you hadn’t gotten caught? Answer: it is highly likely!
If you felt guilty for doing something wrong, you should have gathered your self control and stopped the behavior earlier…knowing it was wrong and would have potentially hurt someone. If you wait and continue to sneak around in that behavior in an attempt to convince yourself that you won’t get caught, that one more time won’t hurt, that one more slanderous conversation isn’t so bad, that you’ve made it this far without getting caught yet, you are compounding the issue by adding lies and deception to the already wrongful action(s).
Justification and rationalization do not wash you clean. They merely assuage your guilt and make you feel that you deserve to continue in the behavior, that you are owed an opportunity to continue. You are simply covering the shame of your wrong by playing the victim in a fantasy situation.
I call horsehockey on that one!
Next time we do something wrong, like gossiping, and we get caught, apologize for the wrong, but don’t be surprised if your tears and pleas are met with a wall devoid of emotion. After all, the apology came after the fact. It may take time for the trust to be regained, if it ever will be. And learn from this episode that the world does not revolve around you and your reasons for committing the wrong. Be honest and own your actions and the guilt you might rightly carry. After all, no one twisted your arm into that cookie jar in the first place.