Just Say ‘I’m Sorry,’ Darn It!


What makes it so difficult to set aside our pride and admit when we are flat out wrong? Is “sorry” actually the hardest word?

The other day I witnessed a near accident in front of my son’s elementary school. The hairs on my neck are still standing up. How the driver handled herself – in front of the kids – baffled me.

As my son and I were walking from the school to our car, a loud yell came from behind us. Then we heard the sound of a hand slapping metal. We whipped around and saw a car stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, break lights on, with the bumper inches from a dad and his two preschool girls.

The girls’ pink and purple water bottles were strewn on the street, evidence of how close of a call it was. Apparently, the woman driving the car had been in the carpool lane in front of the school. Just as the dad and girls were crossing the street at the crosswalk, she backed up and didn’t see them. Luckily the dad’s scream and his car-slapping got her attention in time.

Here’s what I expected to happen:

The driver to get out of the car and apologize up and down, embarrassed that her haste almost caused harm to the dad and the girls. I thought she would have said that there were no words to express how sorry she was.

Nope. That’s not what happened.

The driver got out and started yelling at him. In front of the school. Very loudly. Telling him that he should have been looking and paying attention when he crossed the street. The dad was visibly shaken up and read her the riot act (with kid-friendly language).

I couldn’t get over it. So, I did what I do when I need an answer. I looked within…then I googled “why is it so hard to say I’m sorry?”

Turns out that lots of people have lots to say about the topic. As you can imagine, the conversation turns towards ego and insecurity, the fear of consequences or the perception of being globally “wrong.” It all seems a little negative for my headspace today.

Here are two articles to feed the positive:

The Power of Apologizing: Why Saying “Sorry” Is So Important, tinybuddha.com
An apology cannot undo what has been done, but it can help ease the pain and tension of the aftermath. It gives hope for rebuilding and puts value on the relationship rather than the individual’s pride.

Learning to Apologize, daytodayjoys.com
While we can’t do anything to make other people in our lives learn how to apologize, we can make a commitment to be sincere in our own apologies. I certainly don’t want to leave those that I care about feeling more wounded when I’ve wronged them because I couldn’t humble myself to give a heartfelt apology.

We’re all human. We all make mistakes. Sometimes ridiculously obvious mistakes. Even mistakes that cause harm. But I have to think that becoming more willing to say “I’m sorry” in a sincere and humble way can start a chain reaction, allowing all of us to better tolerate human imperfections. It certainly would ease the pressure.

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