When you hear someone say “I’m sorry” do you automatically think that they are apologizing for having done something wrong? Does the meaning of what they said to depend on the context of the situation? When I’ve done something wrong I do say I’m sorry, but I also say that when I haven’t done anything wrong at all.

Take for instance the following scenario. I am out with a friend who tells me that she has had a terrible day. It started when her alarm didn’t go off and she woke up late. She had to rush to get ready for work and had to speed in order to make it to the office on time. She had a critical meeting with a client mid-morning that she totally flubbed and as a result, her company lost a major deal. Her boss ended up yelling at her for this loss and blaming her. He ended up giving her grunt work assignments for the rest of the month. When she got home she burned dinner and ended up having to call for pizza for her family.
Upon hearing this I responded, “I’m so sorry.” My friend looked at me and said, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s not your fault.” That’s right. It’s not my fault and I wasn’t apologizing. I was expressing my empathy for my friend’s situation.
What confuses me about this is the prevalence of it. It seems like with the passing of time more and more people confuse a simple empathetic expression as taking on of personal responsibility. I’ve even heard it from my mother- her telling me to stop apologizing for everything.
I would say that this is a cultural thing, but it happens to more than just me and with friends who live all over. I’ve had discussions with friends who say this same thing happens to them with people confusing their empathy for an apology.
Are we as a society losing our ability to feel empathy for others? In some ways, I think so, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I really don’t know what is at play here. I had someone tell me once that instead of saying I’m sorry I should say I feel bad for you. I think that takes on a patronizing tone. I’d much rather someone tell me they are sorry for what I’m going through that to tell me they feel bad for me. So, should I just say “I feel sorry for what you are going through” instead of “I’m sorry”? Maybe. But that seems overly formal in some situations.
Perhaps I’m overthinking this completely, but I don’t think so. I just think that we all, myself included, should react to what someone actually says and not just a knee jerk reaction to what we hear. Have an actual conversation instead of reacting to statements. It’s more difficult that way, but immensely more rewarding.

4 thoughts on “WHEN SORRY IS NOT AN APOLOGY | Featured Post

  1. That’s amazing post! “I am sorry” in my opinion has a very low vibration and it is not the words that we have to say each time if we staying on the way of someone or some person pushed us at the shop. In any way “I am sorry” has to be meaningful and way that showing your responsibility for something you did not just automatic words. 💜

  2. I think one thing that is happening in our culture is that we are moving away from cliches and sayings to be more precise in what we mean when we make a statement. And we are also not comfortable with silence-sometimes words cannot convey what we want to say. To convey compassion takes a lot of patience.

  3. I don’t think saying I’m sorry is always low vibration in and of itself, although it can be. I think it’s the intent behind the words. I do agree that if someone is saying it simply as an automatic response it has no meaning. But, if in the depths of feeling and empathy that is what is felt, then it is an appropriate and heartfelt response. The problem isn’t so much the words that are used to express empathy. It’s the fact that so many people don’t appreciate receiving empathy. Not everyone, but a lot of people don’t appreciate it.

  4. Good points… I think the expression “I’m sorry” is both over-used and under-used. I agree with what you’re saying in that we over-use it to empathise but I don’t think it’s used enough when it is actually required.

    I also agree with your point about “I feel bad for you” sounding patronising. It does :/ maybe “I’m sorry for what you’re going through” or “I’m sorry you’re having a rough go of it” ? Maybe the extra words are required to explain.

    Loved the post 🙂 ❤️

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