For what exactly am I sorry?

True apologies are as rare as genuine forgiveness in the world today and yet the paradox for that is the over use of the word “Sorry.” At the risk of sounding discompassionate for a moment, I believe the term “sorry” is seriously over used and is a mask for hidden messages. The word “sorry” has very little do to with regret or repentance and a lot to do with relational manipulation. The word “sorry” has become dishonest.

I’m sorry it’s raining. ( I didn’t cause the rain, but I’ll apologize anyway because it upsets you when it rains and I don’t want you to be in a bad mood.)

I’m sorry it snowed. (ditto)

I’m sorry you had a bad day. (I’m sorry your bad day is now overflowing into mine.)

I’m sorry you don’t like dinner. (after spending all day cooking)

I’m sorry, didn’t see you. (When being crashed into by someone trying to walk past you.)

I’m sorry I don’t agree with you. – (Even though the other person’s opinion is racist or anti-christian.)

I’m sorry I didn’t vote for your guy. – (I’m not sorry I didn’t vote for Bill Clinton)

I’m sorry you don’t like my dress. (I’m sorry because your opinion matters and now I’m feeling insecure.)

I’m sorry I’m breathing your air.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Quit apologizing already.

“Oh! Sorry!”

I know that it’s the polite thing to say – if you mean it. Sorry means regret as in “I’m really sorry I forgot to take your shirt to the cleaners today.” And we are supposed to teach our children how to apologize and how to forgive. And frankly, yes, the world needs more of that. Unfortunately though, “sorry” – has become so over used that it is a dishonest word in today’s world. It’s full of hidden meanings. None of which, in today’s climate communicate true repentance or desire to change. It’s simply used as a manipulative word to bring peace to the relationship.

Case in point – if someone bumps into you while walking past, don’t you say “sorry” as if to convey you regret being in their way. Were you in their way? Probably not and the secret meaning to “sorry” becomes “wow, I’m sorry you aren’t watching where you are going.” If someone holds a differing political opinion than I do, do I really feel regret? Yes and no. I may be regretting that my friend is too stupid to vote, but I don’t regret not sharing their views. Okay that one was a little on the extreme edge here, but do you see what I mean?

As women we are taught to apologize just to keep the peace. What we’re really doing is apologizing to avoid making other people feel uncomfortable which is both arrogant and selfish. I don’t have the power to make anyone take offense that’s their choice, and I don’t want someone upset with me because then I choose to feel insecure in the relationship.

Let’s face it, a lot of us want to be liked, so we apologize for our strengths. We apologize for our opinions, we apologize for our boundaries, we apologize for being alive and taking up space on planet earth, just to keep the peace.

Am I speaking to anyone? Or is it just me?

One of my mentors taught me years ago to weigh the cost of “sorry.” She told me to really think about it before I said it. Sorry is a word of regret and repentance. I need to neither regret nor repent of having strengths, tastes, or opinions that differ from others. I need not regret nor repent of being born either.

Sorry is a word to be used when my actions have a negative impact on another human being. It’s a word of power and strength. It’s a word of compassion when used properly. But we don’t use it properly. We water it down, and build weak bridges with it to keep ourselves from feeling uncomfortable. And we tend to over use it with people we hold in higher esteem than ourselves.

“I’m sorry” is not a patch to smooth over someone else’s feelings or a mask to hide my own. It’s a word of healing and like any good medicine, it becomes toxic to the body and soul of our relationships if over used.

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