I was recently talking about the power of the words "I am sorry" when someone mentioned articles by Lena Dunham and others stating that I am sorry had lost its meaning and perhaps should be banned from use.
Whether it is celebrities and politicians doing the standard, yet vapid apologizing when caught doing something wrong, or women who tend automatically to preface everything with "sorry" when asking to be seen, heard, or considered, it appears we are close to losing the true meaning of I am sorry. If this happens, we will lose one of our most powerful tools to heal and build trust.
When you say I am sorry, what you are communicating is that you understand and have remorse for the impact of your words or actions on another person.
- What you are saying to that person is I would rather admit to my imperfections than risk damaging or losing the relationship.
- What you are saying to that person is I am willing to expose my sorrow and shame because you are deserving of my respect and in turn, I am deserving of your trust.
- What you are saying to that person is I value you more than being right. I value you more than my pride. I value you more than my power. I value you.
I realize that many people use these three words as merely a "get out of jail free card." They do not want to take responsibility for their words or actions and instead use these words in the attempt to keep from suffering any consequences in their personal or professional lives.
I realize that as women reawakening to their power there is going to be a tendency to overcorrect in certain areas. This overcorrecting is true whenever a person is changing beliefs and the behaviors born out of those beliefs. I trust that women will understand that saying I am sorry for mistakes is a powerful gesture based on respect and the desire to build trust while saying I am sorry for one's presence, needs, or desires is based on the lack of self-worth, self-value, and self-love.
I also realize that being considered strong, and especially a strong man, is suddenly being equated with never having to admit you are wrong and never allowing yourself to say I am sorry. I assume the expectation is that somehow if you do not apologize or admit mistakes people will not notice them or the impact they may have on people's lives, or even better, people will place blame elsewhere.
In any case, there is one truth that we must hang onto with all of our might, and that is this: To have a truly authentic connection to another person you must have trust, and you cannot have trust with anyone who is unable or unwilling to admit a mistake and genuinely apologize. Remember this the next time you make a mistake or have a negative impact on another. Our power lies not in hiding our flaws or mistakes. Our power lies in our capacity to say three little but transformational words -- I AM SORRY.