When I was young, I was a compulsive apologizer. I sprinkled “I’m sorry” into many conversations and sometimes even apologized for saying I’m sorry so much. What a tangle! Happily I became less apologetic over time, hardly noticing my use of “I’m sorry.”
Then in my 5-day Jin Shin Jyutsu® class in Kauai, Hawaii in February 2010, our instructor Wayne Hackett wouldn’t allow anyone to say “I’m sorry.” He was relentless about it, interrupting anyone who said it and making them rephrase whatever they were saying. He kept telling people they weren’t sorry and they ought not to talk about themselves that way. At the time I thought it was just his personal pet peeve.
After class I realized saying “I’m sorry”, or more fully “I am sorry,” wasn’t self-supportive. Defining myself as sorry just didn’t feel loving. So I started playing with not saying it.
When you’ve done something you regret, it’s easy to substitute “I apologize” for “I’m sorry.” It’s harder to show sympathy. “I’m sorry for your loss” is a standard sentiment. Rephrasing it as “You have my deepest sympathies” or “I offer my sincere condolences” can feel awkward at first. Yet I’ve found the practice of not inadvertently labeling myself as sorry has value. It forces me respond to others more consciously and at the same time doesn’t diminish me with habitual self-dismissive language.
I love not being sorry any more. You might enjoy that freedom as well.