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” 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