Why is it so hard to say “I’m Sorry”
From childhood we are taught to say,”I’m sorry” to our siblings and friends. We practice acknowledging our mistakes and making amends.
And yet many people still struggle with the ability to admit a mistake.
Learning to Say, “I’m Sorry” was one of the most freeing accomplishments of my life!
I will make an admission to you. See I didn’t say I was sorry… because I wasn’t sorry, but because I was profoundly sorry. So Sorry that it weighed down my soul and made me embarrassed, sad, or even self abusive. (You know that abuse too? The one where you tell yourself you aren’t any good or can’t do anything right?)
How could I be successful if I couldn’t succeed at being me?
If I took a risk and made a statement, and I was wrong… then what? Would the Earth stop spinning on it’s axis?
Two examples. From my own life because I don’t have the ‘right’ to tell other people’s examples.
1. I had a job. Not a great job but a good, comfortable job. I was fourth in line from the CEO of an international company. That is way funny because what I REALLY was, was “The Assistant, To the Assistant, To the Vice President of Corporate Affairs.” LOL So I was not a big-wig… just if you drew out a hierarchical tree… I did end up four slots down. 😉
One weekend I went to a convention, I sold a huge art series. I loved what I was doing and it was profitable. Monday morning found me back at my desk, filing. I sent my Art Agent something like this, “Hi. I’m at work. After the success of the weekend, I am less than enthusiastic about my job.” I hit send. It went to the entire worldwide company! ooops!
I was mortified! I left the job and didn’t return.
2. I sat across a conference table discussing marriage and family relationships, in a class setting. An elderly man voiced an opinion that I found to be sexist. I re-acted, without thinking and acting.
He fell quiet and the lesson concluded. I moved onto the next class and felt HORRIBLE. After the second class I tracked him down, “Fred. I’m sorry I snapped at you. I reacted and what you said can be equally true for both men and women.” We embraced and parted as friends.
I didn’t have to avoid him in the hallway! I didn’t have to worry about what Fred thought of me. I was free. I still held my belief but acknowledged that his could be valid too! And most important? I apologized for HOW I communicated.
Paradigm Shift! I’m Sorry Freed Me!
Years and years later… I still feel embarrassment for the first example. Yet, I could see Fred today and feel completely at ease with him!
Lesson One: Don’t write ANYTHING down that ‘can’t’ be sent to everyone in the world
Resources you may find useful:
- When You’re ‘Too Functional’ to Have Your Mental Illness Taken Seriously
- Little White Lies… How you can help males be more honest and accountable
- “Fight Less, Connect More”
Lesson Two: Live with less anxiety, long term, by being uncomfortable short term
I have been freed. Not completely. I still feel the anxiety. I still worry. However, Instead of skulking away… I turn and say, “I’m sorry I snapped at you” I don’t have to apologize for what I said just how I said it. (If I firmly believe I was correct.) I have succeeded in freeing myself.
Remember the old adage that seems to NEVER be followed… “The Customer Is Always Right” ? Let’s not go off the deep end… but let’s think about that. “I’m sorry that broke….”, “I’m sorry you felt disrespected… ” or “I’m sorry you had to wait…”
Lesson Three: You don’t need to agree with everything. You don’t need to be wrong. You can apologize to open or close dialog
You can, also, be freed by testing out the “I’m sorry” phrase.
Give it a little test run. Bump into your spouse and say, “oops, I’m sorry” while you make dinner.
To succeed in your life. Start with, “I’m Sorry”