"I'm sorry." It's a simple phrase, yet it holds the potential to carry profound meaning for both the person offering and the person receiving it.
While it is also often thrown around quite casually and unnecessarily (especially in Canada), apologizing can be one of the most difficult situations to directly address. I recently took it upon myself to say sorry to the person in my life who I undoubtedly had the most difficult time saying it to. It wasn't an easy experience, nor was it one I (or my stubborn ego) would have ever fathomed possible a couple of years ago, but now having gone through it, I couldn't be more grateful that I did.
I believe genuine apologies have immense power, so here are 8 reasons for apologizing more often that I've come up with. I hope they encourage you to say "I'm sorry" to someone it may be long overdue for.
1. It Puts An End To The Mind Stories
Our minds are powerful tools capable of imagining wonderful scenarios, helping us to solve challenges, and on occasion, giving us that tiny spark of potential genius. But our minds are also quite capable of concocting insane and exaggerated worst-case scenarios for pretty much any situation. When it comes to feeling the need to say "I'm sorry," chances are your mind has already envisioned it going terribly. By actually saying it, you put an end to the unnecessary and exhausting what-ifs and open yourself up to the joys of real experiences.
2. It Re-Builds Respect
Given how much courage apologizing requires, it often tends to lay the foundation for a newfound respect. The action or instance you are apologizing for cannot be changed, but by openly acknowledging and taking responsibility for it, you give it the opportunity to be more properly processed. Even if the recipient chooses to respond negatively and holds onto their opinion of you, you still have the opportunity to re-build some of your own self-respect by acknowledging your role.
3. It Puts An End To The Fear
From financial crisis, to death, to lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), there is already more than enough to fear in this world. There is no need for us to add a fear of apologizing into the mix. By saying sorry, we shift apologizing from outside to inside our comfort zone, making us better communicators and more responsible individuals.
4. It Sets A Good Example
Due in large part to the rise of social media, the world is littered with people and situations that are consistently setting a bad (or at least questionable) example for the younger generations. Being someone who is willing to take responsibility for their actions certainly sets a much needed positive example for those around you. I can personally attest to this, as just sharing my own personal experience with some of my co-workers has already inspired several of them to reflect on their own lives.
5. It Encourages You To Be Yourself
Whether intentionally or not, we all (to varying degrees) seem to love fabricating at least a part of our lives. The biggest example of this is, once again, the world of social media, where we are consistently exposed to people's highlight reels rather than true life experiences. Saying sorry comes from a place of vulnerable acknowledgement, an acknowledgement that automatically connects you to who you are and what you have done.
6. It Helps You Move On
The looming feelings of guilt, shame, and/or frustration can all be incredibly crippling. They are bound to be experienced from time-to-time, but carrying them around with you for years on end is draining and unnecessary. Let the past go; the present is more than colourful enough on its own. Whether saying sorry mends the relationship or ends it more concretely, it's bound to provide some level of mental closure.
7. It Can Be Inspiring
Once again, given how much courage genuinely apologizing requires, to face it (especially with the people you feel are the toughest) can be quite inspirational. It reminds you that even some of your most prominent fears can be overcome and that you are often your own biggest barrier to accomplishing things.
8. It Can Be Fun
In the case that the apology is well received, it can actually be quite fun. Mending an old wound can often lead to a comical catch-up, some good old fashioned reminiscing, and even a renewed friendship. Even though the chances of this may be slim in many cases, if it does happen, the rewards far outweigh the brief discomfort needed to get there.