Why we say “sorry” and what does it mean

We heart centered folks find ourselves saying “I’m sorry” a LOT.  While WE mean only good things by this, other personalities may not take it as a good thing.  So, let’s explore this a bit.  Then let me offer some alternative language that may be more useful and helpful.  

I think heart centered pearls use this phrase as a “joining” phrase.  We use it to express our feelings.  If we have done something “wrong” or potentially upsetting to our connection with another, we want to “repair”.  An apology may feel like a way to repair to us.  When we say this, it is truly from our heart.  We DO mean it, almost always.  

Now, saying “I’m sorry” can come from a place of guilt or a place of shame, and sometimes a little of both.  I am currently listening to Brene Brown’s work on shame and it is amazing.  I highly recommend her to anyone who deals with shame (and by the way, that is ALL of us!) If our apology comes from shame, that is not great.  If it comes from guilt and a desire to do better, that is OK.  Guilt says we made a mistake.  Shame says we ARE a mistake.  

So, we know our apology is well intentioned, but how might other personality types hear our apology?  

A logic based emerald may just be irritated at our “failing”, our lateness, our inability to complete a task.  While they may hear our apology, they may be too focused on the facts at hand, or the task at hand to really “care” that we are sorry.  They may or may not accept our apology, especially if this is a repeat “offense” for us.  

A competition and control based ruby will likely see and experience our apology as a sign of weakness.  They tend to experience heart centered pearl individuals as way too “nice”.  If they are our friend, they may just go with it.  If they are not our friend or have negative intentions then they may note this situation and use it against us in the future.  Or they may realize that issue X is a soft spot for us and use it to their advantage at some point in the future.  

A fun loving sapphire is likely late along with you!  Even if they are in the moment upset with you about something, this feeling will pass fairly quickly.  They are very people and relationship oriented and will likely accept your apology and want to move along to the next fun thing.  They do not tend to hold grudges and rarely will use this against you in the future.  

So, what if we want to acknowledge a “mistake” but not use that problematic “I’m sorry” phrase?  Here are some ideas. 

If our intent is to “join” with a person, to connect or relate, then use phrases like that, such as “I know” or “that is hard.” For instance, let’s say we are late.  Rather than the usual “I am sorry I am late” we can say “I know I am late.” This is us acknowledging the mistake.  If they say how us being late has caused them some specific problem, we can use a phrase like “that is hard.  That did complicate your morning.”  Use an empathetic response. 

Another really marvelous idea I recently read about is to turn it around entirely by saying “Thank you” to the other person.  So, rather than saying “Sorry I am late” you would say “thank you for being patient with me” or “thank you for waiting for me.”  I tried this the other day, it felt SO much better.  This approach also reinforces a positive behavior while still acknowledging the “mistake”.  I find this approach is less shaming and does more to focus on the connection and relationship (which IS what we heart folks are all about anyway!)  

It is awesome and brave to speak from our hearts.  Let’s keep finding non shaming ways to do it!  


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