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A Psychologist Explains Why We Care So Much When Celebs Like Chrissy Teigen Apologize

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Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen has been in the news lately after posting an apology for bullying in the past. Everyone watched the call-out, her downfall, and the aftermath — including Chrissy Teigan's apology.

But why do people enjoy watching celebrities apologize?

We live in a celebrity culture where we follow those we lust after for their beauty, luck, talent, fortune, and, most of all, a certain power.

Yes, power.

Celebrity power is seductive because it allows this rarified group of people to look a certain way, dress in a way that pleases them, and act based on impulse, not held back by rules and mores that affect everyone else.

We watch them closely and cheer them on. Why?

RELATED: An Expert Explains What Pushes People Like Chrissy Teigen To Viciously Troll Others Online

Celebs like Chrissy Teigen have power we wish we had in order to be able to say what we want to say.

We see celebrities as having the power to be free in a way that we all wish we could be.

In no way is celebrity power more celebrated in our press than their freedom to say whatever they want and to be widely quoted, no matter how crazy, or out-of-the-box, the things are that they're saying.

This is important to us because we all feel constrained to not say certain things at work, to our family, even with our intimate partner. We even have an expression for this: biting our tongue.

Being outspoken is a desire everyone has, but it comes with a price.

As a psychologist in New York, I’ve seen many patients who get in hot water. That is, they are confronted and feel embarrassed because of something they said.

For example, a former patient of mine had candid conversations with her nine-year-old daughter. She’d share her opinions about many family members and then make her daughter promise to keep everything she said a secret.

But, at one family event, her daughter, with a tiny smirk on her face, asked her aunt, my patient’s sister, "Do you drink too much?"

This created a family uproar. My patient attempted to calm things down by saying, "Apologize to Auntie. She’s doesn’t drink too much. She’s not even drunk."

Her daughter, feeling caught, screamed, "But you call her a drunk all the time."

Her sister lashed out, "You’re always bullying me. Stop it, please."

Later she lamented to me, "Why can’t I say what I think? My sister has a problem! Everyone can see it. But, we’re not supposed to talk about it."

RELATED: How To Apologize Effectively & With Sincerity

Here are 5 tips for apologizing for something you've done, as shown in celebrity apologies like Chrissy Teigen's.

1. Own up to what you did.

"I was a troll, full stop," Chrissy wrote. "And I am so sorry."

She was specific in her apology as to who she offended. She didn’t deny or minimize.

There’s power in owning your actions.

2. Offer your understanding of why what you said or did was offensive.

"When I first started using social media, I had so much fun with it. I made jokes, random observations... And I used it to snark at some celebrities. In reality, I was insecure, immature and in a world where I thought I needed to impress strangers to be accepted."

Doing this shows that you have grown through this painful experience.

Chrissy owned that she was young and thought it would be impressive to trash others. She wasn’t afraid to put herself in a less than positive light.

3. Be clear that the person you offended did not deserve to be hurt in this way by you or anyone.

"I wasn’t just attacking some random avatar, but hurting young women — some who were still girls — who had feelings. How could I not stop and think of that?"

This reinforces that the person you hurt is a good and deserving person, reassuring them of how they are seen by you.

4. Show empathy for those you’ve hurt.

"Life has made me more empathetic. I’m more understanding of what motivates trolling — the instant gratification that you get from lashing out and clapping back, throwing rocks at someone you think is invincible because they’re famous."

Chrissy offered that those she hurt deserved understanding and concern, not her painful words.

Doing this reinforces that you know who they are.

We all want to be seen and be known, even by those who we feel hurt us.

5. Ask the other to understand you

"I won’t ask for your forgiveness, only your patience and tolerance. I ask that you allow me, as I promise to allow you, to own past mistakes and be given the opportunity to seek self-improvement and change."

This is a big ask but an important one. Making yourself vulnerable when you apologize, makes you more approachable and makes it easier for others to forgive you.

If your goal is to be forgiven, to be seen in a new light, to go forward in a relationship that has meaning for you, then consider watching the celebrities and learn about how they apologize and in doing so, repair their image.

What can you learn from celebrity apologies when you "mess up?"

My patient felt terrible about her daughter’s comments and the ensuing aftermath. She felt that there was no place for her honesty in her family.

But, she also realized that confiding her worries in her daughter was not the best idea she'd ever had. In fact, it was a mistake.

Let’s face it, everyone messes up. No one wants to be judged by what they may feel is their worst moment.

This makes you feel vulnerable, exposed, horrible. You say to yourself, "That’s not who I am!" even as others may be pointing their finger at you.

"You’re a bad mother!"

"You're a terrible sister!"

"How could you upset the family like this?"

But how do you get out of this mess? My patient wasn’t sure what she could do. Her need to speak to her sister directly is what she learned from her mistake.

But what to say?

This is where the appeal of celebrity apologies comes in. They can show you what you can do, in public, to make amends to someone you’ve offended.

RELATED: How Apologies Miss The Mark If They Don't Honor Your Experience

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD is a trauma and addiction psychologist, author of 9 books on resiliency, women, and self-parenting. Learn more on her website.