Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word

What makes sorry so difficult for some people to say? Does sorry stick in your craw each time you try to say it or is it perhaps that you do the apologising even when you feel blameless? What does sorry mean to you? Is it a genuine evocation of regret, an admission of defeat or a signal of truce? How often do you say you're sorry  and what do you say sorry for? If it's an admission of a mistake or for saying something hurtful then it seems to me to be OK but if you feel you are apologising almost for your existence, which some people do, then it is most definitely not OK.

My stance is that we are all flawed to some extent because we are human and being human sometimes we err. I personally have never had a problem with saying I'm sorry it's not a big deal but if I do apologise it's usually because I've decided it's appropriate. I dislike it intensely if someone is overly critical about me or tells me I should apologise but then I don't like the should word either? Of course some would say that saying your sorry and apologising isn't the same thing. We say I'm sorry when some one has passed away - we regret their passing but we're not apologising? However, I think it would be fair to say that what most people call apologising is saying they are sorry for some kind of omission or transgression? 

How do you say your sorry? I'm sure there's a whole slew of advice out there for appropriate ways to apologise but what works for me is simply saying 'I'm sorry or I'm so sorry for etc' I don't do the gift thing it seems to make it into a production. If I say it I mean it and would expect the same if someone apologised to me. One of the most famous apologies I can think of is when Richard Nixon said he was sorry for his part in The Watergate Conspiracy

I never had any time for him as a politician but his regret in the clip is palpable? One of my twitter friends @exmoorjane said the other day that to genuinely say your sorry is a beautiful thing. I don't know whether I'd go as far as that but I do feel being able to say your sorry is useful and healing and the ability to forgive is even more so. In my estimation a lot of what ails us is hanging onto to old hurts, either ones we feel have been inflicted on us or, those we've inflicted. If we practiced apologising when it's needed perhaps sorry would no longer be the hardest word?

As a humorous postcript I asked my husband why he rarely says he's sorry - his reponse 'I do say I'm sorry when I am - it's just that I'm rarely wrong'? Ha!


  1. Morning Barbara!
    I agree with a lot of what you have to say, and Jim is like a lot of men. My ex used to see sorry as a sign of weakness, and I have come round to their way of thinking to a certain extent because I say sorry too often and for very trivial reasons.
    I'm always apologising to my partner for silly things, and then I realise what it must sound like- that I'm a person who's always doing things wrong rather than occasionally doing things wrong.
    I have actually come to see people who apologise a lot as weak- we shouldn't have to keep justifying our behaviour to anyone- if people don't like it then tough.
    However, I do think we should say sorry when we have genuinely caused hurt or upset to someone else because it eases resentment and guilt and allows us to build bridges where otherwise a gulf would exist.
    If only more governments and politicians apologised like Nixon, but again it comes down to what could be construed as weakness.
    We live in tough times...
    Mary O (wrote it 'cos no one else had put anything!)

  2. Hi Mary I took the lack of comments as proof of the difficulty surrounding the word sorry but perhaps I'm too used to looking at unconscious processes. I agree sorry is a word to be used judiciously and when you mean it. If we say it too much it's like apologising for existing or perhaps we don't really mean it - either way imo it's not useful. Thank you so much for responding :)