Tuesday, January 3, 2012

All Apologies

Not long ago, I read an article claiming that one of the most important phrases in a person’s repertoire is “I am sorry”.  As I read the article, I found that I could not argue against the importance of apologies.  Yet, as I read the author’s assertions about the importance of apologies, I could not help but think how hard saying “I am sorry” can be for some of us.  Why is that?  Why can such a simple phrase be so hard to say? 

Perhaps it is not so much the actual phrase or the definition of it that is difficult.  Perhaps, instead, we struggle more with the implication of an apology, or other hidden meanings that we have attaches to it.   Perhaps it is difficult to apologize, because when we say we are sorry, we are also admitting to a degree of wrong-doing.  That we are at fault in some way, whether we agree that we that we are or not.  Some of us may even feel that when we are apologizing, we are acting out of weakness, submission, or passivity.  That we are have less power than we would had we not apologized.  Sometimes, it may even be difficult to say “I am sorry” because we ourselves are in need of an apology.  Because we have been hurt just as badly as those that we are expected to apologize to.  Or, perhaps, apologizing is difficult because, in doing so, we must face the pain that we have caused our loved ones, and quite often, our own.   

Offering a genuine “I am sorry” is rarely easy.  And while apologizing does not undo all harm that may have been done, or heal wounds, doing so is important.  It is important because it shows how much we value our relationships and the people that we care about.  To say “I am sorry” is to acknowledge the feelings of our loved ones, and that we are sensitive to their experiences.  That we respect those that are close to us.  Saying the words “I am sorry” shows that we are willing to take responsibility for ourselves and be accountable for the consequences of our actions.  Ultimately, an apology offers humility.  It recognizes to ourselves and to others that we are imperfect.  That we are human.  And that we are worthy of forgiveness.

So while I can understand and empathize with the difficulty in apologizing, I must say that I do not see it as a sign of weakness, wrong-doing, or submission.  Rather, I think that the willingness to say “I am sorry” takes self-awareness and strength of character.  It takes empathy and compassion for others.  And it takes courage to take an honest look at one’s self, express remorse to those we love and acknowledge their feelings, and move forward with them in a meaningful way. 

No comments:

Post a Comment