Posted by: Take Flight | September 18, 2009

Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

The other day at the YMCA I opened the door to go out of the ladies locker area at the same time another woman was coming in. The door pushed me back slightly. “I’m sorry,” she said.

 “It’s okay. There is nothing for you to be sorry about.” I replied.

She looked at me with a scrunched face and walked away. Not many people must respond to ‘I’m sorry’ I thought. How have these words become as common as ‘How are you?’ and ‘What do you do?’ in our culture, I wondered.

I sat down on the bench in the hallway for a moment. I then imagined myself as a scholar devoted to a research project on ‘I’m sorry.’ I envisioned groups of women in deep discussions and also one-on-one interviews getting to the depths of why we so casually toss out these words. I felt an uplifting sensation run through me. Maybe there is hope we can eradicate this language from women’s lips. Then a child’s shrill scream brought me back.

How many times a day do we hear this from other women? How often do you express it?

In my experience ‘I’m sorry’ can be the response for nothing more than lightly bumping into someone in a line or for not holding a door long enough. What happened to ‘Excuse or Pardon me.’ Is this not permissible anymore?

You might be thinking, ‘Why does this even matter?’

When we as women spout out ‘I’m sorry’ as freely as a water faucet; we’re diluting our feminine power. We may not realize the impact yet it is like drops of water on a rock which over time erode its strength. It also detracts from the more serious times in our lives when we really do need to make apologies and amends with those we have significant relationships with.

Next time you’re out, particularly in a larger crowd – pay attention. Listen for ‘I’m sorry’ and you may be surprised at how many times you hear it. Play a game with it. Count the number of times. Do this at your workplace or with your own community. Notice how often it is said. Catch yourself uttering ‘I’m sorry’ for your random life events.

Then I encourage you to join the ‘Never Having to Say You’re Sorry’ brigade. First do all you can to change your own language. Then call other women’s attention to what they are expressing. Let’s forge together to support one another in strengthening our communication. For our words are our power.

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