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When You Have A Hard Time Saying I Am Sorry, Don’t Say It – BE Sorry

I have a hard time saying the three simple words. I don’t know why but even when I am feeling apologetic and trying to say ‘I am sorry,’ I can’t really come out and say ‘I am sorry.’

sorry seems to be the hardest word

Image source: Pinterest

Not very recently, I launched into an extensive research on my specific ailment. Turns out I am not alone. While it feels good to know that I am not the only terrible non-apologizer on the planet who has a problem in owning up to the very actions that I do heartily feel sorry to have engaged in, I am sorry the world is putting up with so many of us. While there is psychological research backing us in our not-so-proud but nonetheless apology-challenged admissions of being apology-challenged, we will get to the data in a moment. For now, let’s focus on what this sorry-not sorry syndrome feels like.

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Now, before you judge me (and you can say sorry, because I know you already have), let me tell you I am not always apology challenged. It’s not a perennial state of existence and I can drop a string of sorries if I push someone on the stairs (accidentally, of course) or use my fingers as a spoon-substitute, thereby staining someone’s newly bought sheets with chicken broth and noodles. In fact, my tones of regret can vary as per the demands of the situation- with a subtle apology for a loud fart in public (read: an incoherent mumble or sometimes, simply a shoulder-shrug with a finger pointing to my unusually large lunch box) to a vigorous, pushy apology for sticking my gum inside a stranger’s ear (more so because he wouldn’t hear much because of the sticky residue)! But on the most part, when I fail to furnish an apology, it’s because I feel that the situation involved me but NOT my fault.

say you're sorry

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

You see- the sorry-not sorry syndrome is a convenient ailment for every easily-angered blame reverser who withholds ‘I am sorry’ because she can prove it isn’t her fault anyway. The way these non-apology apologies work is pretty simple. If there aren’t enough eggs left in the refrigerator because I used’em all to make an inedible breakfast the other day, I’d simply place the blame on the inconsistency of the flame or the inexcusable delay of the stopwatch! Similarly, if I am running late for work and my beloved spouse insists that I help him place the tie that I put away last night (read: used to tie him so we could…you know), I may simply tell him we’ll use handcuffs tonight! Don’t get me wrong- I do feel sorry, especially when my husband is involved- but I have worked so hard to acquire the art of unfurling these excuse-ful, avoidant apologetic non-apologies that an ‘I am sorry’ vomit seems like a waste of a thoroughly enjoyed spread of delicacies. Just ask my husband and he shall vouch for the ‘tasty’ indulgence- and no, not the breakfast, the other thing. 😉

I know you are rolling your eyes and thinking how pathetic our behavior is- and secretly hoping that’d induce shame in us and we’d throw up an apology- but weren’t you reading carefully? Fauxpologists, like myself, know how to divorce the me from mea culpas so we can escape the uncomfortable feeling of being at fault and therefore, having to give an apology. If you are thinking that’s just another convenient excuse, psychology’s got my back. Harriet Lerner, author of The Dance Of Anger, says,

If we’ve been shamed as children, we may have an especially difficult time tolerating the adult experience of being wrong. Simply acknowledging a mistake can boot us back to the unbearable experience of childhood shame.”

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While I understand the emotional implications of having your apology issues rooted in your childhood (I have been there), I do find it comforting that once again, I can pass on the blame for not being sorry to something else. Plus, as a non-sorry sayer, I do feel loyal to one of my all-time favorite quotes about one of my all-time favorite things- LOVE. “Love means never ever having to say you’re sorry.” So Lord bless Segal! I am simply not saying sorry because I care. (I am hoping some very important people in my life are reading this).

In my defense, apologizing isn’t fun either. No matter where my apology issues stem from, it’s just easier to stick to explanations (for people who matter) and even easier, to take to excuses (for those who don’t) instead of saying I am sorry. In some cases, I simply rely on a sarcastic comment, dismissive shrug or catty expressions to get away! I think part of my resistance also stems from the fact that those words don’t mean anything unless they are backed with an intent that says ‘I see what I did there and I promise I won’t do it again and I will be better.’ Most people don’t have that.

i'm sorry

Image source: Pinterest

When I do something that really puts me in a bad space and I am more uncomfortable with the guilt than I have ever been with apologies, that’s when I knew I have royally screwed up. That’s when I know it’s time to BE sorry. I may start by saying ‘I am sorry,’ but I make a mental note of ensuring I don’t repeat the mistake again. The rehabilitation isn’t easy- much more because it’s easier for me to make amends in action than speak the actual words- but a start is a start, and nobody ever promised giving up an addiction was easy! Of course, I am sticking to my que sera sera strategy for most activities and have no hesitation in admitting to my humblebraggy affinity for non-apologies because those who practice apologies tell me it gets easier when you start forcing your mouth to say the words. And ‘gets easier when you start forcing your mouth…’ sounds hard to me. Really hard (and I don’t mean sexually). But I guess what I am trying to say is you start small and then, move on to bigger and better things (okay, now I am thinking IT- and I blame my deviant mind, and I am not sorry).

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So maybe, in time, I can graduate from being a fauxpologist to a sincere apologist- although that would make me lose my zing! Guess I will ask my husband for his opinion on it- while I handcuff him today! And am so not sorry for that! 😉

 Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Article Name
When You Have A Hard Time Saying I Am Sorry, Don’t Say It - BE Sorry
I don’t know why but even when I am feeling apologetic and trying to say ‘I am sorry,’ I can’t really come out and say ‘I am sorry.’
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."