The Power of Apology

Apologies are great, but they don’t really change anything. You know what does? Action. -Stella Young

What are the two words you should never utter when you are involved in a car accident?

I’m sorry

“I’m sorry” is an automatic admission and acceptance of guilt. After all, why would you apologize without cause?

I think we should implement the same level of caution when using the words “I’m sorry” in our daily lives. These words are equally as incriminating in your relationships as they are in a court of law. When used too much, these powerful words lose their credibility. Rare usage is often the result of hard-headedness, an inability to hold oneself accountable for his or her mistakes. These are both extremes on the “I’m sorry” spectrum. One must find a happy medium and know when it’s appropriate to say I’m sorry, and when it’s better to just shut your mouth.

Unfortunately, I fall on the former end of the spectrum. My use of the words “I’m sorry” would have me convicted for crimes I never even committed. I’ve never known someone to say I’m sorry for every single thing, but for some reason, I do. I guess sometimes it’s easier just to back down and accept defeat rather than stand up for yourself.

My Struggle with I’m Sorry

Some of my most cherished and favourite people in my life have the strongest sense of self I have ever witnessed. They do not back down when faced with conflict. If they are reading this, they know exactly who they are. Some are my family and some are my friends. Confidence truly reflects through ones ability to stand up for oneself. If you don’t respect yourself enough to defend your own beliefs, actions or emotions, why would you expect anyone else to treat you with respect? I talk a big game but really, I’ve let “I’m sorry” run the course of my life for far too long.

I’m taking back the power of these words.

I’m taking back my sense of self.

From a young age I learned not to talk back. I never witnessed proper conflict resolution. Living paycheque -to- paycheque was cause for biweekly emotional explosions. On Thursday nights after school I would go straight to my room and hold the pillow over my head until the yelling stopped. It was always just my dad yelling. The few times my mom did say something, he would hurl horribly hurtful words right back at her. I would scream into my pillow hoping it would stop soon. This is where it must have began. This is when I learned never to talk back.

The few times I did talk back ended badly. Doors slammed so loudly the entire house would shake. Things were smashed and thrown. Our household was a war zone and all over what, money? Sometimes the emotional pain was so strong the only relief was to inflict harm on myself.

“I’m sorry” has become my get out of jail free card.

The Grey Area

I used to think being the first to apologize made me the bigger person no matter what. And in some cases it’s admirable and a sign of character to wave the white flag and call for a truce. When arguments become futile, I believe it’s best to abort mission, shake hands and move on.

As much as I try to avoid arguing, it is an inevitable aspect of all relationships. You can’t always be in complete agreement with others. Sometimes things get heated, opinions clash, and insecurities arise out of thin air. I urge you to do as I say and not as I do, do not apologize for how you feel in during these highly emotional times. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, or if something rubs you the wrong way, don’t bottle it up. I’ve done this too many times, suppressing my anger or frustration and suddenly it boils over making a complete mess of a fixable situation. You should never apologize for defending your own honour. The moment you doubt your intuition and say those incriminating words, the argument is over. You lose. You’re not just losing bragging rights either. Every hasty utterance of I’m sorry chips away at your self-worth until you’re left questioning the validity of your thoughts and feelings.

I urge you, take time to think about the power of the words I’m sorry before you blurt them out. Don’t cower in the presence of conflict and haphazardly start apologizing for ruffling someone’s feathers. Speak up, don’t let others make you feel guilty for standing up for yourself. Your sorry’s will gain much more validity when you really are sorry. Those who are respected most don’t hide from conflict, they defend their honour until the end.


Inspired by The Daily Post’s Discover Challenge prompt, Apology

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on “The Power of Apology

  1. I feel worded apologies get lost within childhood. In my experience children are TOLD to apologise and “forgiven” in a plastic and static way.

    In reality we as adults human beings aren’t this; we aren’t plastic or static- we are constantly changing and developing.

    Your blog has raised this; apologies should grow with us as we age and become more about about action for a deeper impact and truer apology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very wonderfully said. Especially here in Canada where everyone says “I’m sorry”, it really loses its impact. I always catch myself saying it for absolutely no reason. At the end of the day it’s true, actions speak louder than words.

      Like

  2. Well said. I was brought up that “I’m sorry” wasn’t the answer, you have to change your behavior so I have an negative reaction to people who use empty apologies all the time. It’s a hard habit to break especially as we teach kids (still) to apologize first and then think about what they did later. Say you mean and mean what you say, you know?

    I think this is a great post for people who need some food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad I can finally reflect on my own use of these words. You’re right, I’m sorry isn’t an answer, especially if there is nothing to be sorry for.

      Like

  3. As with everything i read it has to be read lover a few times before my head connects with my heart and this post was really hard on me, i struggled not to cry each time i went over it because truth hurts more than the lies its trying to cover up. I said sorry and still do out of habit, i never want to hurt anyone but end up getting hurt. I wonder how i veered so off course in life that i thought i could buy myself reprise from hurt and abuse if i only apologised first, so you see your words brought up so many past scenes in my life where i begged forgiveness so hurt would stop. Hurt not only for me but also for my kids who were hurting so bad i took on all the guilt and responsibility for being so weak and cowardly. I never had any other defense than “I am sorry”. I slowly realised after much pain and time that you dont need to apologise to someone who really knows you and loves you. Only sadists exact an apology to see you dehumanise yourself each time and they live off that power. Nicole when you share from the heart you create waves in the lives of people who read it, i myself am still struggling to share more so thank you for showing me your strength and bravery. and my dear i hope you are on the road to healing and recovery from all those times of apologising when it was not necessary. hugs)))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment has me in tears. I am so happy you could connect and understand what I am hoping to convey with my words here. Sometimes life hurts so much we will say or do anything to lessen the pain. Taking on the burden often seems like the easy way out. I’ve grown tired of apologising for feeling my feelings. We shouldn’t have to apologise when someone else causes our hurt. Writing aids in my recovery, I can tell it does the same for you. Sending lots of hugs your way. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yes writing helps and i have years of hurt and healing to go though and this blog helps and reading your story and traveling along with your journey also helps together with your feelings between the spaces, i know i am not alone.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a powerful post written from the depths of your heart. It would have been very difficult to write.

    I am one who says “”I’m sorry” a lot. Many times it is needed. As a father and a husband I will blow it with my family and say something negative to them instead of an encouraging comment.

    As a lay pastor I will say “I’m sorry” to a family who has lost a loved one. And to be honest the 1st thing I wanted to say to you my new friend was “I’m so sorry for your very difficult home life” It shows empathy, and that I care.

    But there are many times I will say “I’m sorry” simply because I don’t want conflict, whether it is at my work in a warehouse or as you mentioned in situations like a car accident. It really does imply guilt when I may not be guilty. The post was extremely well written and has given me much food for thought.

    Thank you for sharing so honestly and from the heart! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and your heartfelt comment. It’s wonderful as a father and husband you can say sorry when it’s needed for the sake of your family. That is something your children will respect and cherish about you. And thank you so much for your kind words. I am grateful and love my parents very much. They were still learning themselves, I could never hold anger towards them. I am glad I can reflect on some of the negative times in my life and try to incorporate it in a therapeutic manner in my writing. It’s even better to connect with bloggers like yourself over topics like this. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like how you broke down the physical and psychological impact of saying “I’m sorry.” Many times when I’m on the receiving end of someone’s “I’m sorry,” especially a young person’s, I want to scream. You said what I want to tell them eloquently.

    Liked by 1 person

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