Home Featured Everything I’m So, So Sorry About (and Why I Think Apologies Are Hard)

Everything I’m So, So Sorry About (and Why I Think Apologies Are Hard)

Everything I’m So, So Sorry About (and Why I Think Apologies Are Hard)

“There’s the way that light shows in darkness, and it is extremely beautiful. And I think it essentializes the experience of being human, to see light in darkness.” ~Emil Ferris

I was leading a yoga class in a small village near the Aegean Sea in Greece. One of the trainees was completing a mindfulness workshop she created. She led us through a guided meditation based on a beautiful Hawaiian practice for reconciliation and forgiveness called Ho’oponopono. She repeated the same mantra over and over as we sat in yoga.

You are my love.
Please forgive me.
I’m sorry.
Thank you.

There was Something about how she slowly said, “I’m so, so sorry” that at one point I felt my heart break open, and tears flowed from its depths.

I carry a lot of hurts, both personal and social, in my heartspace. So Sorry about.

I’m sorry that children and animals are abused for no reason except the amusement or the sickness of adults.

I’m sorry that women and children are molested and raped by men whose brains can’t process compassion, and that their need for power is so destructive that they can justify their actions.

I’m sorry that people aren’t given equal access to food, education, and healthcare because of the color of their skin or biases.

I’m sorry for the learned bias that keep us from treating everyone equally.

I’m sorry that children don’t tell adults they have been bullied and base their self-worth on their shame about how their peers treated them.

I’m sorry for daughters whose mothers try to keep them small.

I’m sorry for the boys who’ve been told that they can’t cry.

I’m sorry that saying sorry is sometimes too vulnerable.

I’m sorry for any time I have ever said or done something that was hurtful because I was trying to make myself look good.

I’m so, so sorry

The vulnerability of being sorry

Saying I’m sorry is a vulnerable place. We must admit that we weren’t perfect. We have to admit that there were mistakes.

Sometimes I’ve raced around my brain desperately looking for some way to justify my actions so that I didn’t have to apologize because it felt too vulnerable. But sometimes, even in a relationship where I wanted to be vulnerable and close to someone, I have defaulted to not apologizing—sometimes out of habit.

During the pandemic, I came down with COVID-19 and had to call the people I’d been around and tell them. It was difficult. My friend was very upset. It was during the holidays, and after spending a lot of time alone, she had plans for New Year’s Eve.

I didn’t blame her for being mad. All of us were driven insane by our isolation. I’m sorry. It was difficult to apologize and listen to her anger. Her friendship was worth more than the discomfort she felt from her expressing her disappointment. I was thankful that I had the courage and strength to be present.

If we want a relationship to grow, we—the one who erred—need to own the mistake and the apology, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Without the apology, it’s one more brick in the barrier to growing closer in a relationship.

We all know people that never say I’m sorry—it just feels too exposed. Even more troubling is the fact that they are unable to forgive themselves.

Cindy Frantz, professor of psychology and environment studies at Oberlin College, and Conservatory said that when people do wrong and don’t admit to it, it feels incomplete.

From personal experience, I know that a waiting for an apology can make a relationship feel suspended in midair.

She also warned, “Don’t apologize as a way to shut down the conversation and wipe the slate clean. That’s a shortcut that won’t work.”

When It Isn’t Safe to Say I’m Sorry

Some people will use our apology against us—so we keep ourselves safe by not apologizing. When dealing with someone suffering from mental illness or abusive issues, self-preservation may be the best option. However, it can have a significant impact on our self-esteem.

In the eighties I was on a 12-step diet for my eating disorder. I wasn’t able to fully complete the fifth step by making amends to my parents for all the extra food I ate to fuel my bulimia. It just didn’t feel safe. Now that I’m in my sixties I could do it, but my parents are deceased.

I found some comfort in apologizing “in spirit.” I’m still in the process of fully letting go of the conversation that I wish I could have had.


I was working on this article at a coffeehouse when I heard a conversation. A man asked a woman whether he could reach across her and grab a chessboard from the shelf next to him. She said yes and then said, “I’m sorry.” His friend said to her, “Why are you apologizing? He’s the one inconveniencing you.”

As this woman, my apologies are very easy to accept.

Saying things like “I’m sorry to bother you” instead of “Do you have a minute to talk?” can be a sign of our sense of self-worth or the habits we developed when we weren’t confident.

Research shows that women are more likely to offer apologies than their male counterparts, even though they don’t seem to commit as many offenses.

Over-apologizing for women can be a matter of learned speech. When we apologize to ourselves for taking up space, it is a matter of learned language. Contact usYou can apologize, or say sorry for being late, rather than thanking people who waited for you. Or, apologize for not saying yes to someone who crosses our boundaries. This could be a sign that you are struggling with self-worth.

We can talk about our self-worth by repeatedly apologizing to ourselves.

What a Sincere Apology feels like

When I realize that my mistakes are part of human nature, I can offer an honest apology. I truly don’t want to hurt others. I don’t want them to be suffering from my words or actions.

When I am sorry for my shortcomings, I can offer sincere forgiveness. I try to learn from my past mistakes and use them to improve my future actions and responses. I do not use my mistakes to remind myself of my past errors or emotionally beat myself up.

Sara Kubric, a psychotherapist, says that an apology is more than just a statement. It should be sincere and vulnerable. The following is her apology recipe:

  1. Accepting responsibility for your mistakes
  2. Recognize that you have hurt someone
  3. Validating their feelings
  4. Remorse
  5. Making it clear that we want to make amends

Apology as a Test for Confidence

When I apologize for my mistakes, I feel confident. Everyone makes mistakes. My spiritual growth is dependent on my willingness to be vulnerable.

I continue to learn new ways of communicating that don’t involve over-apologizing for taking up space or being a normal human being. I know that there are pain, challenges, and injustices in the world that I can’t control, and I can be sorry, sad, and discouraged when they happen. This is the way I can live consciously and compassionately in this, my community.

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Nancy Candea

Nancy Candea is an internationally renowned yoga therapist who specializes in chronic pain, addiction, trauma and addiction. Her book, PRESENT – The Art of Living Boldly In the Second Half Of Life Her talks are designed to help women find peace with the past, gain self-acceptance, confidence, and reconcile with it. This will allow them to live a fulfilled, happy, fulfilling, and purposeful life. Living Boldly Project, she is its founder and director. Nancy Candea.com provides more information about Nancy.

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