What’s the hardest word?

SORRY is a familiar word for me. It flits off my tongue before I realise I’ve said it for the most part – I’m sorry we can’t go to the park because I’m working, I’m sorry I didn’t catch that because I was breaking up a fight over a bike, I’m sorry I have a headache, I’m sorry I left the chicken chipolatas on the kitchen bench all day and now we have no tea.

When Son started saying sorry at the drop of a hat, we felt bad… when a three-year old apologises because you asked him to pick up his shoes once, you feel like a tyrant. We began explaining he didn’t always need to apologise and, it occured to me, neither do I.

I shouldn’t feel I’m troubling others with my questions or explain myself at every opportunity and throw myself on their mercy. I imagine a person who spews forth apologises frequently is not considered a person of strong character.

So I’ve tried to “stuff my sorries in a sack, mister” and only use them when actually required, rather than as a jumping off point for questions and everyday conversations with people that I’m sure have better things to be doing.

But I became curious on the subject of sorry – the psychology of remorse, regret and the power of a heartfelt apology.

A good apology is hardly a sign of weakness, it takes tremendous courage to admit your failings, to concede you hurt or failed another person.

There isn’t a whole lot of material on the psychology of sorry, so it’s a good thing that we have religion. The Holy Grail of Sorry – what with original sin, repentance, etc. In fact, the Talmud (Judaism) says God created repentance before he created the universe.

But what makes apologies so hard in this day and age, is that it is aligned with weakness. Perfect people, successful people simply don’t apologise.

Despite the fact I say sorry a lot, I don’t think I’m very good at apologising. On more serious issues, I tend to follow up my sorry with my defence: “I’m sorry but I…” *insert legitimate but probably overworked excuse into lofty “you don’t know what it’s like to be me” kind of victim-role-reversal.

And I definitely don’t apologise when I believe I’m right (which is all the time, apparently, because I’m a woman) or when I feel I acted to the best of my abilities. After all, what else can a person ever do?

I also wonder, if I apologise so readily on a daily basis, why I feel so offended when someone says I “owe” them an apology. Shouldn’t an apology – a genuine one – come from your own heart, your own desire to make things right?

If you need to be prompted, surely it makes the apology void? And if your hand is forced and you don’t believe you did wrong, what is the point of an apology at all?

If it’s a case of “saving face” in front of others, I wonder whether apologies to smooth social order comes from the same moral fibre that makes up genuine remorse? I would herald a guess that a “bigger person” is one who admits their shortcomings, but would decline an invitation to pay mere lip service.

But maybe I’m wrong and a “bigger person” will say they are sorry for the good of a group, for the benefit of a wronged individual, for any number of reasons. After all, pride can stand in the way of a good, sincere sorry and Lord knows, it’s hard to be humble …. when you’re perfect in every way!

Have you every feigned sorry? What was your hardest apology to  make?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: