[align=justify]It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry
by Amy Horowitz, M.S.
I’m sorry: two simple words. But for some, these two little words are extremely difficult to form, and some individuals never seem to be able to say them. Most people undoubtedly feel remorse, yet something prevents them from verbalizing it. Indeed, they often go out of their way to avoid saying sorry, performing acts of kindness like cooking dinner or buying gifts in an effort to fill the void left by their reluctance to just say two simple words. So why is this so hard?
Maybe the challenge lies in the fact that once these words are said, there is some level of admittance of guilt or wrongdoing. If one does not feel that they have done anything wrong, then they most likely feel they should not apologize. But things are not always this simple, and those who recognize that they have wronged someone often still cannot apologize. I have heard some people say about the person they have wronged, “they know how I feel.” Well, how do you know that the other person knows that you feel regret? If you believe that they know you are sorry, why not say it? What’s the difference? Perhaps you feel that the person will lose respect for you if you apologize. Well, some simple disputation would likely reveal that many of the people most respected are those who own up to their errors and are respectful and insightful enough to admit them. Maybe it is simply pride: pride that you should not have to admit your shortcomings to others and others should not expect you to do so. Well, as much as we may demand others to agree with our opinions, our demands do not control their views and desires. If they want an apology, your reticence will likely further damage that relationship.
Maybe one illogically believes that if they admit they make mistakes, then this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they will become more mistake-prone. Against this, we simply highlight that all human beings are fallible. If people can accept some level of responsibility, then they may in fact feel obliged to (gasp) change! Maybe apologies are important so that we ourselves acknowledge our flaws and the more we accept our flaws, the more we are able to work on them and prevent them from happening again.
After thinking about the behaviors of my friends, family, and clients, I began to think that maybe there is a difference between those who willingly and sincerely apologize and those who do not. Those who apologize, clearly acknowledge their human flaws and work to change them. Without spending time thinking about one’s errors, one spends less time problem-solving about the future. And these people who work toward change may be more likely to have successful relationships than those who choose to simply hope that those around them will eventually forget their bad behavior and move on and may comfortably continue life unscathed.
Saying “I’m Sorry” may be hard, but the payoff allows for critical and productive self-reflection and healthier future communication. So spit it out already, “I’m sorry” is a step towards positive change and self-improvement.[/align]
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