The Two Best Words

The two best words are I'm sorry.The two best words, albeit the hardest ones to say, are “I’m sorry.” It’s difficult to let the two words stand on their own. The temptation is to offer an explanation or to attempt to justify one’s actions.

Both the explanation and the justification are unnecessary. They only undercut the apology being given. It’s almost impossible to explain or to justify without casting blame on another person or the circumstances. The apology then becomes yet another piece of the tawdry action already set in motion.

No, for “I’m sorry” to remain the two best words, they have to be offered without excuses. They have to be followed by an admission of guilt and wrongdoing. They should then be followed by “Please forgive me.” Those three words, in conjunction with the other two, clear the conscience and, in some cases, restore relationships.

Those words also allow a person to move forward and to act differently. The point of an apology is not to convince the wronged person of the sincerity of the apology. It isn’t to force that person to apologize for whatever wrong he or she may have done. An apology is an outward act that signifies an internal change. It reminds the person making the apology that he or she is responsible for oneself, one’s words, and one’s actions and that that person has dedicated himself or herself to living differently in the future.

Comments

  1. John_Trader1 says:

    Hey, great post Erin. I like the fact that you point out the words “I’m sorry” are nothing but a hollow shell unless there are tangible actions that follow to demonstrate the words caused a change or adjustment in character. Too many times we say the words (and I’m thinking relationships are a classic example) just so the other person can feel at ease that you recognized a mistake or egregious error on your part. The key is to turn that into something that causes you to never have to say the words again for whatever reason they were said in the first place!
     
    This was a good post to start my day, thanks!

    •  @John_Trader1 Thank you for the comment and all the shares!
       
      Apologies are hard; learning to not make the same mistake again possibly is harder. I think it takes a lot of practice and grace – both to ourselves when we make the same mistake again and to the people who are in the midst of making an apology or amends.

      • John_Trader1 says:

         @Erin F. Ah yes, grace. As the old Seinfeld episode said, “You either have grace, or you do not have grace.” Video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENgJZlmgI6U
         
        By the way, is it OK to tell yourself that you are sorry? Or is that just weird? 
         

        •  @John_Trader1 I think it’s okay, and I don’t think it’s weird. Do you accept the apologies you make to yourself?

        • John_Trader1 says:

          I don’t know if I have ever even apologized to myself. I should really give that some thought. Have you?

        •  @John_Trader1 No, but I’m not very good with extending grace to myself. An “I’m sorry” directed toward myself tends to lead to self-flagellation rather than to a change in behavior. I don’t really hold with the concept of forgiving yourself, either. Forgiveness usually is bestowed from one person to another, not from one person to oneself, right? So…maybe apologizing to yourself is unnecessary? Now I’m not sure where I stand. Apologizing to oneself sounds nice in theory, but I’m not sure of the reality.

        • John_Trader1 says:

           @Erin F. You had me at self-flagellation. 

        •  @John_Trader1 It’s such a good word! Even if it isn’t a very good thing…

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