I think I've really hurt several people's feelings. Yesterday I said something insensitive to Friend A about Friend B and Friend C, and I don't think any of them will like me now. I feel really guilty. What should I do please? – Elizabeth* No one's perfect. We all mess up now and then and wish we could hit some magical "undo" key. It can help a little bit to remember that most people have been in the situation you're in. What makes the difference is what you do next. Use the power of a sincere apology. Apologies can go a long way toward healing hurt or angry feelings. It takes courage to step up and admit what you did was wrong. Try saying: "What I said the other day was really insensitive of me. I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't fair. I was being judgmental and gossipy — and I don't feel proud of that. I just want to say I'm sorry. I messed up." The important thing about an apology is sincerity. When we apologize, we need to do so because we feel genuinely sorry about how hurt another person may be. An apology shouldn't be a way to protect our own image or be liked. If an apology is more about ourselves and how we can benefit, it might not seem true. Another element of a sincere apology is the intention to change. Let the person know you're not going to let it happen again. You could tell your friends, "I'm going to be more aware of what I think and say about people in the future. I'll make an effort to be kinder and more positive about people, and not to talk behind their backs — especially when it's my friends." Apologizing in person is best. But if you can't bring yourself to have a conversation in person, write a note. Whichever way you decide to communicate, be sure that you'd feel comfortable if anything you say is shared with other friends, too. Hopefully, your friends can accept your apology. But don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen instantly. Some people are quick to forgive. Others may have to think about what you said and need time to get over hurt feelings or anger, or to rebuild trust. Do your best with the part that's up to you. The rest is up to them. Forgive yourself, too. We can learn from mistakes. Focus on mending the situation, not replaying it in your head. Being too self-critical can't help you. Neither can wishing the situation away, thinking about what you said over and over, or dwelling on what you could have said instead. Move forward. Focus your energies on trying to make things right and working on your good intentions! *Names have been changed to protect user privacy. Back to Articles Related Articles Apologizing We all mess up at times. An apology tells someone that we're sorry for the hurt we caused — even if we didn't do it on purpose. But does an apology fix everything? And how should you handle it if someone apologizes to you? Find out here. Read More I Bullied Someone. How Can I Apologize? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More I Helped Spread a Rumor. What Should I Do? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More What It Means to Be a Friend Thousands of you filled out our friendship survey. Find out what some of you said about being a good friend. Read More 5 Ways to (Respectfully) Disagree These 5 tips can help you disagree with someone in a constructive way - without losing it or shying away from how you feel. Read More Asking for Help: Getting Past Obstacles Sometimes our ideas and beliefs stand in the way of asking for help. Here are ideas for teens on how to get past 5 common barriers to getting help. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.