Sorry is a word.
Sorry can go from a word to a feeling.
Sorry can go from a feeling to a behavior.
It’s that action, in the behavior step, that separates the phony from the authentic.
Sometimes we say we’re sorry when we don’t really feel it or before we feel it. Sorry is not a word that we wield just to end discomfort or conflict. It’s brave to vulnerably say we’re sorry when we’ve wronged someone or behaved badly. It’s the opposite of brave – it’s cowardly – to say we’re sorry when we don’t mean it, as a method of avoiding further discomfort.
People who are truly sorry make it to part two, which is a feeling. It’s called remorse. When someone truly feels remorse for something, they apologize by saying the actual words I’m Sorry because they feel regret about what they’ve done. And then the words of apology are followed by action.
The words themselves aren’t always really necessary, although in some cases the words provide an element of healing for all involved. If the words are offered, the word choices and the way the words are delivered speak volumes.
Sorry is never accompanied by an excuse. It doesn’t give reasons. It takes accountability without reasons and excuses.
Sorry never says but. It never says if only. It never points to others. It never hides behind pieces of the truth.
Sorry doesn’t gather up an audience. Sorry quietly and consistently shows the wronged their commitment to behave differently.
Sorry behaves differently.
Sorry identifies all behaviors that cause stress in the lives of those who were hurt and takes every action to stop adding stress. It does that regardless of the stress and challenges that may add to the life of the one who’s sorry.
When lives have been irrevocably altered because of our behavior, Sorry seeks actual help. Sorry doesn’t just hope for the best, it seeks professional help even though the thought of help is scary. That act of bravery is important even if we live a mostly solitary life, because each of us is a person who has value and who contributes to the universe. But that act of bravery is especially important if we’re a parent, because we need to show our children that we’re committed to healing – theirs and our own.
Truly sorry is an action, and it’s brave.