The Problem with I’m Sorry

So, I have a problem… You see, I say I’m sorry.

I know you must be thinking, “How is that a problem? Saying I’m sorry is a good thing, right?” Well, I have noticed over the last couple of… ahem…years… that the word “Sorry” is the most used word in my vocabulary. It is used at least once a day (on a GOOD day) and in most every social interaction that I have.

I was discussing this with my dear friend, Denise Mock (life coach, customer service genius, general superhero—check out her website here!), this very morning, and she pointed out something that I have never thought of before.

She told me that somewhere along the line, in my heart and my mind, “I’m sorry” came to equate peace for me. Peace…at ANY cost.

And you know what? She is absolutely right! It becomes so clear when I look at my recent interactions and use of the phrase. BAM! There it is. Clear as day. When I think that something is threatening to upheave me or my relationships, I fall back to this trusted stance of submission: “I’m sorry.”

Now, don’t get me wrong!  Apologies are necessary. Being able to apologize when you have wronged someone (intentionally or unintentionally) is important. However, most of the time, my “I’m sorry’s” come from a place of fear as opposed to genuine remorse for an action or behavior.

I throw the words out in an attempt to protect the status quo, to avoid an argument, to appease my own false guilt, and especially to appease the feelings of others. I use “I’m sorry” to try and rein in the chaos…even (and especially) when the chaos is not of my own doing.

Because ALL this rabbit heart wants is to feel loved and be at peace!!

But this is a problem for two very basic reasons.

First, the more often a word is used, the less power and impact that word possesses. When I do screw up and hurt someone, I want my “I’m sorry” to mean something. I don’t want it to be one of those things that I just say.

Secondly, when you say “I’m sorry,” you are taking ownership of your actions (Thank you, Denise, for pointing out this truth!). You are basically saying, “I did something wrong. I am going to take ownership of that.” If I say the words to avoid arguing or keep people from being upset with me or when I don’t even know what I’ve done, I am taking ownership of things that don’t belong to me!

This is another problem! I secretly (ok, NOT so secretly to those who know me) try to carry the weight of the world. If someone is hurting or mad or weird, I take it personally. Therefore, I make things mine…that simply aren’t.

New revelation always brings resolutions, right?

Well, here is mine… I am going to be intentional about my “I’m sorry.” I am going to say it when the occasion actually calls for an apology. I am no longer going to use it like a shield, setting it between me and the things that make me insecure or afraid.

Guilt. Chaos. Fear. Insecurity. Conflict. They will come. But, I have to believe that The Maker of this rabbit heart sees them long before they get close enough to sting.

And He is the only shield that I really need.

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