Sorry: The Hardest Word to Say
For many of us saying “I’m sorry” feels like we are getting teeth pulled without anesthetic.
Although we like hearing a heart-felt apology and often we feel we deserve it, we stutter and choke on these two simple words. Why is it so hard for us to own up to a mistake and apologize? You might be surprised, but the roots of this issue start early in life.
A friend of mine has a 2 year old daughter who decided one Saturday morning to just kick her mother in the leg while she was making breakfast. Standing in the kitchen pushing scrambled eggs around the skillet with a spatula thinking about the rest of the meal, my friend was yanked out of her thoughts with an excruciating blow to the right shin. Needless to say, the little girl was asked to say she was sorry. The little girl said nothing so my friend put her on the “Naughty Step” so she could think about it.
While my friend iced her welt, the little girl got off the step, walked over to her mother and said, “Mommy, I need a hug.” Her mother said, “You need to apologize to mommy.” The little girl looked around the room, put her hands behind her back and stuttered, “S-S-S-Sor-Sor.I’m just not ready to say it, Mommy.” My friend sent her back to the Naughty Step. Moments later, another attempt at saying “I’m sorry” didn’t quite work out for the little girl and she was sent back to the Naughty Step one again. Back at the step, the little girl told her mother, “I just can’t say it, Mommy.”
The clock ticked away as the little girl sat on her step contemplating how to do what her mother asked of her. Finally, the little girl stood up from the step and walked gingerly over to my friend and said, “Mommy, I think I’m ready now.” My friend said okay and waited patiently for the overdue apology. The little girl started again, “S-S-So-Sor-Sor.Sorry Mommy.” There it was .¨ the long anticipated golden nugget of speech admitting that a wrong had been done and there was regret for the act. But, this story is about a 2 year old child. Why was it so hard for her to say, “I’m sorry”?
Well, we learn a lot of BS about us and life early on and it shows.
“I’m Sorry” Comes at a Cost
There are many reasons why someone does not feel like they can say they are sorry. First of all, it costs too much and by this I mean that it costs us too much. We already feel like we are in the red when it comes to our self-esteem. We get this message early on as we are taught that we are not good enough so it always feels like we are working with some deficit in the “I’m OK” department.
When we grow up, we believe what we were taught about not being that great so we spend our lives working really hard to overcome this, but it doesn’t work for us. The reason for that is what we have been taught about ourselves is simply not true. How can you overcome something that is false, something that is an illusion? You can’t, but a lot of us don’t know that yet. All we need is a willingness to see things as they truly are. Life will begin to look a lot different then.
The Fear of Not Being Loved
“I Have to Be Perfect or No One Will Love Me!” How many of us feel this way? I know I’ve felt this way in the past and it’s like working a second job trying to keep up this charade. Let me say this about perfection: No one is perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. We are all perfectly imperfect.
By understanding this we can start a new chapter in our lives leaving behind such old, useless ideas that cause us so much pain and suffering.
We deserve nothing less.
Let’s remember, too, that everyone makes mistakes. When we make a mistake, it isn’t a reflection on the quality of us as a person, even though we often think it is. Perhaps all that happened is that we misinterpreted or misconstrued information. Or perhaps, like most mistakes, we were acting out of irrational fears and that drove us to do something we can now clearly see was not cool. Know this: Mistake or not, you are worthy of unconditional love.
Here is another news flash: You may not have been told this until now, but, it’s okay to make a mistake. That is one of the main reasons we experience life .¨ so that we can learn from our mistakes. If we learn from them, our lives tend to get easier. We all are worthy of an easier life, whether you believe it or not!
Embarrassment & Denial
The thought that we have made a mistake can cause us embarrassment. When we become embarrassed, we laugh, we run away, we get angry or act out in any number of ways. The one thing we usually don’t do at this point is act rationally. When we feel embarrassed it is hard for us to own up to the fact that we hurt someone’s feelings. In response, we invented the art of denial. It works like this: Denying our mistake makes it seem as if it didn’t really happen. If there is no mistake, then no apology is needed. We feel like we are off the hook. It is illogical and twisted, but this is how some of us survive. In the end, denial does not help us. It keeps us from what we truly want in life .¨ love and happiness.
What can you do to overcome this and get free from old patterns? Grow up and own up. Let go of foolish pride. Remember that we all make mistakes.
Just say you’re sorry and move forward in your life. It’s a lot easier than we make it.
Fear of Rejection
The one thing we all want is to be loved. If we apologize, there is a potential that our apology won’t be accepted, that we will be shunned or we may permanently lose someone we love. But, without an apology, there is often no chance of making amends and moving forward. It is important to make the effort to reach out and make the apology. This will get things moving one way or another.
There is no guarantee that things will go your way, but one thing is for certain, not making an apology when one is needed will feel unsafe and untrustworthy to another. This further damages a relationship unnecessarily.
Most people are receptive at some level to an apology. If the other person doesn’t accept your apology, remember, it is not a reflection on you at that point, it is about them. None of us can fix other people’s stuff. It’s possible that through their upbringing someone didn’t learn compassion, understanding, or empathy. If this is the case, getting the slough off or the cold shoulder may be inevitable here. Forge ahead and clear yourself of any potential stress and bad feelings. An apology can be redeeming and cleansing.
Sign of Weakness
Coughing up an apology can make some people feel vulnerable as if apologizing is a sign of weakness. This is another misperception that causes us a lot of anguish. As is the case with many things we have been taught about life, directly or indirectly, the opposite is true .¨ apologizing is a sign of strength.
When we aren’t able to accept that we did something that warrants an apology, we are catapulted into a weak position. We are now the servant to the stress of this non-acceptance and its ultimate detrimental effects that undermine our relationships and our health. Why would we choose this over a life free from self-created stress? We wouldn’t so continuing to do so actually goes against the grain of our inner self .¨ our true self .¨ who operates stress-free and full of health. Apologize when one is needed and experience your inner strength.
Case Closed .¨ An Apology Allows Healing to Begin
Saying, “I’m sorry” isn’t meant to be a cake walk. These powerful words provide deep benefits that many of us may not be aware of.
These include bearing your soul and dealing with an old issue that has been plaguing you for years and letting go of old patterns of thinking that have kept you from doing what you really want to do.
When we make a mistake, it is important to own it and apologize for it. When we apologize, our stress is reduced almost immediately. When we say, “I’m sorry” our relationships heal at much the same speed. Saying you’re sorry shows the other person that you care enough about them to take responsibility for any hurtful words or actions. This is healing. This is how we align with what’s in our hearts instead of what’s in our heads.
It is time to align with our inner truth. It is time to stop following old thinking patterns that don’t work in our favor.
Accept yourself as good enough, strong and worthy of love. This is aligned with the truth about who you are .¨ the stuff that wasn’t supported when you were growing up. You can, as an adult, see all of this for what it is and choose to do something different than you have done in the past.
This alignment will help restore you to a more balanced state. We could all use more balance and more love.
Start today. Be brave and be strong. If there is someone you need to apologize to, do it soon. Get it off your mind and reconcile an energy-draining, relationship-ruining issue that needs your attention. You will feel better and you deserve to feel better.
Be free. Be happy. Be healthy. Be loved. It is time.