“I’m sorry”… does anyone struggle with this?
I know that people have mentioned “the apology languages” before on here, and this is kind of related to that. I personally have not done a lot of reading around them, but I have taken the quiz and I know which one I am…. but, I am wondering,
Does anyone struggle with hearing “I’m sorry’s”? What about saying “I’m sorry.”? This could be as an apology or even as a condolence.
Whether you experience it or not, why do you think it would be bothersome to someone to say or hear those words?
I am all about grace and being understanding, so for people here who say this a lot, I understand that it has to do with your personality and your own unique makeup, maybe even including the “apology language”.
If you have any interest in knowing what your apology language is or learning more about it, here are a couple of links:
I’m “accept responsibility” too. I don’t know if ‘I’m sorry” rubs me wrong because of the apology language, or because that’s all I heard in our earlier years of marriage, with no changes. Even last night when I was sharing my frustration at my husband’s late work hours, I heard “I’m sorry” and I can’t help but say, “That means nothing.”
Along with your thoughts @NWNL on “sorry” as a condolence, I have a hard time saying it, not necessarily because it’s solely an apology, but because I can’t help but know there’s good God has planned through it, and if something is happening to one of His children, I know He has a greater glory in it. That’s nothing I can apologize for, even if I can sympathize or empathize with them. I know this comes out of a Romans 12 spiritual gifting, and it can drive people crazy. 😉 I think this thinking process is also why it bothers me to hear it as a condolence…. life happens, God has a plan, I am surrendered to it, I don’t need an apology for God’s good plan.
@Oldbear, I like your word “hollow”. I totally get it. I would guess, no matter what someone’s apology language is, other languages will feel hollow to them.
I am Making Restitution. I would love to hear “I’m sorry, what can I do to fix this situation?” The rest is all hollow to me. DH apologizes by saying, “what I did/said was unnecessary.” So from him, I would love to hear “I’m sorry.” However, we have a child that regularly say “I’m sorry.” I’m getting tired of that, because I would love to see some real effort put forth! I don’t mind saying “I’m sorry” when I apologize.
I’ve never heard of apology languages but I just took the quiz and got expressing regret as my main followed closely by genuine repentance. It makes sense because I don’t like hearing just “I’m sorry” to me that seems like they just want to get the apology over with and for everything to be ok. I really want to hear what they are sorry for and why. “I’m sorry I did xyz thing, I can see that it really hurt you” with eye contact and complete sincerity means much more to me.
I also think the apology I want to hear varies a lot depending on the person giving it. The difference scenarios posed in the quiz really changed how I felt based on who it was that supposedly wronged me. For instance anything that involved my mother (who has a history of manipulative behavior and ignoring boundaries) I would rather hear practical ideas for how she was going to refrain from doing xyz in the future as part of her apology, verses my sister who I have a good relationship with I would be fine with a “I really blew it this time, I’m sorry.”
Yes, I always instructed my kids to own what they specifically did and say, “I’m sorry that I did ____________ (be specific). I was wrong, will you please forgive me?” and then try to make it right.
In studying this further as well as what forgiveness is on my sabbatical 4 years ago and reprocessing my ex and all her escapees over the year since the divorce, I realized that “restitution” and “accepting responsibility” and “expressing regret” are my top languages. I still bristle at the whole “I’m sorry thing” because my ex has NEVER owned all her choices, even lying to our sons. The only thing she’s ever said to me was “I’m sorry I hurt you” and then she’s turned around and lied as well as blamed me for her affair and then her choice to get divorced rather than put our then marriage back together. She’s still as prideful and arrogant and angry as she was 14 yrs ago, only she’s added a second marriage and divorce to her resume.
On the other issue of just saying, “I’m sorry….(that happened… to hear that… etc). I stopped saying that because it’s not an apology for wrong doing or hurting someone. DW & I talked about this last week. I usually say instead, “I’m saddened to hear that.” I didn’t do anything wrong so there’s not need for an apology.
I had the exact reaction and results as tentsofpurple. Different relationships changed my answers. One thing I hate is when the apologizer turns it back on me and asks what he/she can do to make it up to me. It feels like adding more burden onto me. How does one respond without sounding negative? “Stop being a #$&?” or “Rewind the clock?” It also feels embarrassing to me and is just prolonging a difficult situation.
In my experience, the actual words mean little. The tone with which they are said, along with other non-verbals, followed by the next actions all tell much, much more than the actual verbiage chosen. “I’m sorry” can Indicate full contrition or vapid spite, and anywhere in between, depending on the how it’s said and what goes with it.
@LBD – If you want to look at God, and depending on your theological persuasion, I would submit He wants them all and doesn’t stop at ask forgiveness and repent. You ignored restitution (propitiation) via Christ which God demands (in traditional theology).
In reality, God sees the heart so He can see AND know if someone is sincere but make no mistake, He does say justice and restitution and offers that through Christ.
As a human, I do not see the heart so for me, actions speak louder than words. While I want you to apologize, if you won’t own your junk in the apology, if your actions and attitude doesn’t change, it communicates to me that you aren’t sorry and therefore, aren’t safe for me to trust you.
On the condolence issue – it’s difficult. When we truly hurt for someone else’s situation, we don’t generally know what to say. And too often we say too much. In some misguided attempt to convey sympathy, we can cause more pain. So “I’m sorry for your loss, hurt, etc” is often the safest thing one can think of that has the least risk of hurt.
But I also think this light usage of the words “I’m sorry” is also what makes it seem light and insignificant when a loved one that has caused hurt to us uses them to express true regret. If they are just words, how does one tell the difference? I think this is truly a failure of the English language.
Love is an action. If someone tells you “I love you” yet never did anything loving toward you, how long would it take for you to doubt their sincerity?
A close friend of mine lost a two year old child to a tragic occurrence. We’ve discussed it many times over the years. He has told me of all the things people said that were meaningless and hurtful. He knew their intentions, and didn’t hold anything against them, but it didn’t stop the pain. He then told me of what one friend did. A friend who had also lost a child. He didn’t say anything at the funeral. Just hugged him. Then later, after all the activities had died down, that same friend dropped by his house and, once again, said nothing. Just hugged him, then sat down with him outside and cried alongside him.
My top was accept responsibility, followed closely by express regret, and more distantly by request forgiveness. I wonder if some of my answers were colored by some teaching I’ve heard before about when we apologize more for the purpose of making ourselves feel better than for any benefit of the wronged party. I tended to avoid the responses that had anything to do with restitution, both because of that and because I tend to avoid conflict and wouldn’t want to prolong it by demanding any kind of boon from the other party. I also noticed that a lot of the answers I picked were the ones that expressed to me that the other person understood how I felt about what happened. And in some cases, the wordier apologies just felt unnecessary. A simple, heartfelt “I’m truly sorry” (which came out as ‘express regret’, I guess) can express to me that someone is tuned in to my feelings better than a lot of words. Nine times out of ten, all I really want to know is that my feelings have been heard and valued, even if after the fact.
On another note, there is such a thing as constantly feeling responsibility undeservedly. My DH has a tendency to apologize to me for every slightest thing that goes wrong in my orbit, as if he is responsible for everything. Our DD and I have a constant refrain in our house, “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!!” I’m always telling him, “Stop saying I’m sorry!” He’s genuinely distraught that I’ve been “wronged” and feels like it’s somehow his fault, but it’s NOT!
As to condolences, my “I’m sorry” basically means “I’m sorry you are hurting,” and I usually add that part in some way.