The power contained in the two little words “I’m Sorry” is enormous! It can heal years-old hurt, renew friendships, and restore relationships. It can change people’s lives by allowing them to start forgiving and to get past the hurt and it makes you feel better as well. Why, if it’s so valuable to say them, are these two little words so difficult for us to say?
Pride for one thing. None of us likes to admit that we did or said anything wrong–ever. Our first inclination, then, is to deny, deny, deny. Some initial responses when you’ve done something that you regret can include:
- That’s not what I meant
- You misunderstood
- That never happened
- (S)he is lying
- That’s not really what I said
- It came out wrong
- You don’t understand
Why do we feel the need to explain how what we did or said makes us innocent, even when we’re not? There is not one single person on this earth that is perfect; NOT ONE. Why do we try so hard to prove that we are? What do we have to gain? Time? Almost all the time, things come out anyway and you end up addressing it, so why prolong it? The longer you wait, the worse it gets. It eats at the person that did something and it eats away at the person that was wronged. You both know something was said or done even if you’re not quite sure of the details or disagree about the circumstances. Sometimes neither person knows how to fix it. Is it because of embarrassment? Probably, but that stays with you, too, until it’s resolved. Sometimes it gets to be so big that you lose the relationship rather than admit you were wrong. Is it worth it? Good relationships are a blessing and not replaceable.
Did you know that apologizing is good for you? It benefits both parties mentally and physically. It allows you to ease the guilt that you carry and eliminates the stress that you’re carrying around. Of course, the person accepting the apology will also feel the benefits. They will feel acknowledged for the way that they feel and (hopefully) relief in the fact that they can now forgive you and move forward. Sometimes an apology is JUST an apology. It doesn’t have to mean that you were wrong. It can simply mean that you’re sorry that the situation is what it is. Both parties can acknowledge that, then, and move forward. Sometimes more discussion is necessary, but at least an apology opens the window for that to happen.
I found an article on this topic that really appealed to me (written by Beverly Engel, published in Psychology Today):
If you have a few minutes, please take a look at it. It describes in more detail the healing benefits of both giving and receiving an apology and how best to manage the apology itself.
Think about all the problems our world is experiencing right now; the headlines in the news and online. How many of these do you suppose could either be solved or at least minimized by somebody apologizing? At the very least, it de-escalates a situation, allowing a conversation or even forgiveness to happen. So the next time you think you probably owe somebody an apology; you should probably go ahead and offer it. Take responsibility for whatever it is; it’s a sign of respect and can very well make a big difference in your relationship with the person.
I’m not saying it’s always easy; it isn’t. There are times when you just forget something (a birthday, anniversary, etc.), there are times you know you should call somebody or visit somebody and don’t and time goes by and you’re embarrassed. Perhaps you let a disagreement escalate and you don’t speak to somebody. In any circumstance, the first step of saying “I’m sorry” can open the door to a resolution. Sometimes simply saying “I’m Sorry” is enough and both people can just move on from it feeling better. I believe that people don’t really want to stay mad at somebody else, but can’t figure out how to change the situation. Regardless of who says it, “I’m Sorry” is a very powerful tool and something that we should all practice without hesitation when it’s appropriate.