November 20, 2018

Sorry: The Hardest Word

Studies have found that women tend to ‘apologise’ and say sorry more often and for different reasons than men. In the book “Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing and Other Career Mistakes Women Make,” a PhD explains that women apologise for moving through space, before expressing opinions and even as a way of filling the silence.

Comedian Amy Schumer explains that ‘sorry can often be a poor translation for a string of expletives’. As the pendulum swings (which it always will,) our generation have seen the rise of the ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’ movement.

#sorrynotsorry is a statement about refusing to apologise as an act of empowerment.  In the western hemisphere, we associate the word ‘sorry’ with an admission of culpability. Insurance companies have drilled into our brains that to apologise is to let down the shield – and in doing so, you will pay.

So if we don’t want to ‘pay’, then we can’t be sorry.

There is also quite a bit of half-sorry that has crept in to modern life, when there ought to be a full sorry. You know what I am talking about: “I’m sorry YOU feel that way”.

Taking ‘sorry’ out of the language takes an awful lot away from the quality of our relationships – both the relationships we have as individuals and collectively.

Sorry, in the traditional sense, needn’t be an apology or admission of liability. Sorry, is a statement about being present in a moment of ‘sorrow’.

Speaker one: “My dog passed away.”

Speaker two: “I’m sorry

No one would think that speaker two in this scenario was responsible for the death of the dog nor believe they should apply financial compensation to speaker one for the late dog. (No animals were hurt in the imagination of this scenario – Ed).

To be sorry as an expression of sympathy, of acknowledgement of the feelings of another is a unique quality. One of the most powerful moments in our shared history as a modern nation was the national apology to indigenous Australians. Sorry. Not one contemporary Australian was present when the grievances occurred. But we can feel sympathy. We can acknowledge. We can change behaviour and adopt new beliefs based on that experience of sympathy.

If you are late to the party with this sorry, you can learn more about the Arakwal People of Byron Bay in their digital Welcome to Country here:

So, I’m sorry that I can’t get on board the #sorrynotsorry movement. As I prepare to climb off this weekly soapbox, I am sorry if you are grieved, in pain, upset or hurting for any reason. I apologise if I caused it. Different.

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