#sorrynotsorry - the Power of Words

To apologise is a powerful act. It has the potential to repair and rebuild previously damaged bridges, restore faith and heal past hurts, all with a simple yet highly impactful word: Sorry. In the context of forgiveness, sorry is a word not to be underestimated.

But what happens when we take the word out of its intended context? When sorry becomes a preface to any sentence, statement or act? Sorry, I just wanted to ask something. Sorry, but don’t you think that might be a risky thing to do? Sorry, I’ll be right back. Sorry, I’m just human.

While there are of course moments when saying sorry is completely justified, there is a fine line to cross where the repeated use of the word starts acting as abuse of the user of it. Its power won’t have decreased, but instead of reaching out to heal, the word is turning on the speaker, weakening, shrinking and diminishing. Each unjustified sorry silently tugs away at a person’s integrity and power, and it can have detrimental effects of someone’s confidence and sense of self.

The Brits are known for their constant apologising. When I first arrived in the UK, I was taken aback by how much I was expected to apologise all of the time. Sorry, would you mind handing me that newspaper? I’m sorry, could you say that again please? Sorry, please bear with me for a moment while I go and do that thing for you. It took me years to get used to sprinkling sorry just about everywhere in my vocabulary, until one day I realised it had taken over my whole dictionary.

While I wouldn’t advise anyone to eliminate ‘sorry’ from their daily speech, I’d encourage each person who thinks they may be overusing the word to start noticing it and checking in on their intention when saying it. If your intention is in alignment with your values, then by all means – go for it. But if the intention is to please others, diminish yourself or simply avoid a necessary confrontation, then I would challenge you to start omitting it from your speech and find a replacement. Watch what happens and be prepared to be surprised. It may just be that you don’t have to be that sorry after all. And when stop being sorry, there is room for so much else – and isn’t that exciting?

Rebecca Delgado