Why It is So Hard to Say Sorry

Do you find it easy to apologise if you have done something wrong or after a fight? If you have accidentally stepped on someone’s else foot, the words “I’m sorry” will come out automatically.

But when we are engaged in an argument with our loved one, and our pride and feelings are hurt- often with hurtful remarks and ‘score keeping’ past incidents flying back and forth, it is very difficult to apologise. We feel that if we were to apologise, it will mean that we have lost the ‘battle’ and admitting defeat. Our pride will absolutely not allow that.

Even though when we know in our hearts that we are wrong, we still refused to admit defeat. We harbour the feeling of resentment and spend the next few days, weeks, months or even years engaged in cold war- not speaking to one another and pretending the other person does not exist.

After sometime, the anger dies off and sometimes, we can’t even remember what the fight was about. But we find it too difficult to say the words: “I’m sorry”. When neither one is willing to make the first move, sometimes a simple fight causes hostility for a lifetime.

But harboring any form of anger or unforgiveness greatly burdens our hearts. Especially when it concerns someone we loved dearly, if we refuses to speak to the person again, we are setting ourselves up for a lifetime of unhappiness. Then in future, no matter how successful we are, we will always feel the void even though our pride can deny, our hearts can’t. We would recall the happy moments that we have with that person and secretly wish the person is at our side to celebrate our success.

We can deceive the entire world that we are ok but we can never deceive our heart.

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So, the question is, why can’t we stop our pride from ruining our lives and be humble for a few minutes just to apologise? Or better still, don’t add fire or give in to our temper. It often takes 2 persons to get angry and shout at the same time to have this kind of damages- if one person is to keep quiet, the other party will normally cool down after a while- I mean, the angry person cannot be shouting at the air without response, right?

Later, when the angry person had cooled down, we can then speak to the person nicely, “you know, the other day when you get angry over that incident, actually, what really happened is…..”. When a person cools down, he/she will be more receptive to your explanation. Don’t bother wasting your breath on someone who is losing their temper.

Being able to keep quiet and not participating in the verbal shouts and insults takes a lot of virtue. If you are willing to try, you can do it one day and you will realise that by not giving in to your pride, you save yourself a lot of future heartaches.

I personally know of a few ladies who do not response to anger – but they have told me that when they were much younger, they used to have very bad tempers. As they age, they finally realised that there is no winner in every argument and they would rather just let the other party win. They also learned to develop forgiveness and humblity in their hearts. The years had mellowed and softened them up.

What Happens If You Have Lost Your Temper and Regret It

If you have done so, then try to make amends. You have to learn to say “I’m sorry” to the person- if you are unable to say it face to face, you can send flowers or chocolates with a note to apologise. After that, follow up with a text message and see if you have any response.

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Make sure when you communicate, you express your sincerity in apologising and ensure there is no sarcastic undertone. You can ask mutual friends/relatives who want to see both of you together if the other person is ok. If yes, follow up with a phonecall. If no, follow up with a phone call anyway or a face to face meeting.

Sometimes, I prefer to settle disputes face to face without going through a third party because there can be miscommunication, even though the third party had the best of intention.

But you also need to be prepared: the person may not accept your apology. You have to be emotionally prepared for that eventuality and your ego must learn to deal with the rejection. The problem is, many people refuse to deal with the rejection and hence never even make any attempts. Or they wait for the other person to do it first- the waiting game sometimes can last till the dead bed, so just risk your ego and get the thing settled once and for all, okay?

You may feel rejected and your ego felt it had been stamped to pieces. But, you will feel relieved too- that you have done it. The bruise in your ego will go off after a while. At least if anything happens, you know you have done your best and you had apologise. There’s nothing more you can ask of yourself.

Still, if the relationship matters a lot to you, you can attempt to apologise or show that you’re sincerely sorry a few times. Your loved one may have a past bad experience that had hardened his/her heart and when you display your temper or say very hurtful words, you may have triggered some very painful memories that haunts the person. So, you’ve got to be a bit understanding and give time for the person to come to terms with it.

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I am not sure about you, but I’ve learnt to say “I’m sorry” a lot time ago. My ego used to be higher than a mountain but listening to it was really ruining my life. So, I’ve learned to say ‘I’m sorry’, even when I am not at the wrong.

Now, in the middle of an argument, a thought would have occurred to me that my relationship with this person really matters and I should not be making use of my ability-to-inflict-hurtful-words-due-to-my-extensive-knowledge-of-the-English-vocabulary to utter powerful phrases that I will live to regret.

Even though I felt angry, I would quiet down and say, “ok, I’m really sorry about that. I shouldn’t have remarked that about you” and I will continue by quoting a good attribute that I know the person have. And I meant it with sincerity.

And immediately, I can see the person cool down and feel happy about the praise on his/her character. Then the conversation will take a pleasant turn. And after that, I would be left wondering why I should even get angry in the first place.

If you choose to give in to your pride, you will lead a lifetime of regrets. The choice is really up to you.

For more inspiration reading, click to read T Selva’s article on “Say I’m Sorry” (The Star, 14 September 08)

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