Do you struggle with the S Word? Or does it come easy and you find yourself saying sorry almost every other sentence? Yup, it’s my post about the word ‘sorry’ and it’s been a long time coming. So, I’m sorry it’s late…or am I? It’s also going to be more than one post because when I started writing I realised that apologies are quite a big deal. So, I’m sorry for the length…or am I? But seriously, have you noticed how much we say sorry these days? We say sorry for being late, sorry for taking so long to text back, sorry for wanting to pass someone on the street and sorry for flaking. But what actually do we mean when we say sorry and why do we do it so much?
To avoid any confusion I’ll start with some dictionary definitions. Firstly, sorry: “feeling regret or pentinence”. And regret basically means feeling sad or bad about something and pentinence is “the action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong.” In other words it’s another word for apology – “a regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure.” Boiling it all down it goes a little like this: we’ve let someone down, say we flaked on an event they’d organised, and now we feel bad about it. What normally ensues is an apology but before we move on I just want to focus on this feeling.
Not many people like to feel bad unless, of course, you’re a masochist. But that’s another blog. It’s a visceral feeling of unease that sits somewhere in our body and I think it’s composed of at least one major ingredient: guilt. We’re feeling guilty because we know we’ve let someone down. Our action (or, in the case of flaking, lack of action) has resulted in a sub-optimal state of affairs and may well have upset our friend. We’re feeling the regret and it’s not a very pleasant sensation. However, it’s what happens next, it’s what we choose to do about that feeling that is crucial and defines whether or not, when we say sorry, we actually mean it. Blog number two will take a closer look at the act of apologising and all the different types of sorry-sayers there are out there, y’know, the ones that say sorry waaay too much, the ones that don’t say it enough, the ones that get all defensive and angry, and many more. In the meantime here’s Blue and Elton John struggling with the S word.