Sorry Square

That Was NOT An Apology

We know that forgiveness is a central tenet of all relationships. Our willingness to apologize, or to accept someone else’s apology, acknowledges and accepts the occasional or frequent missteps in our daily interactions with others.

In recent months I have been thinking about the importance of forgiveness, of how it shapes our day-to-day experiences. I have been paying closer attention to situations in which people apologize, and especially to the words they use to express regret. Increasingly, I have observed the non-apology, that is, an apology that begins with the words “I’m sorry, but…”

In my book, “I’m sorry, but…” is not an apology. It is an explanation, as if explaining WHY the hurtful words or actions were expressed makes them less hurtful or disturbing. The goal of the explanation seems to be a clarification that the words or actions were warranted. At its worst, the “I’m sorry, but…” apology shifts the blame elsewhere and refuses to accept responsibility for hurtful words or actions.

The genuineness of an apology truly matters. If it is not a heartfelt expression of regret, it reflects an obvious disregard for someone’s hurt or disappointment. Saying “I am sorry,” and truly meaning it, can begin to heal a situation rather than making it worse.

I am committing to mindful apologies and to understanding why no one deserves anything less.

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6 Responses to That Was NOT An Apology

  1. Jamila October 25, 2017 at 9:27 am #

    Hi Sharon,
    Great post! It brings to mind something I heard recently: “People who do not take responsibility for their actions cannot be trusted.” I find this to be true.
    A big hug,

    • sharon October 25, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

      Jamila, thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this post and for sharing the great quote.

      Hug gratefully received and returned along with all my best wishes,


  2. A October 23, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

    Sharon, I really love this. I hope you and family are well.

    Much love


    • sharon October 23, 2017 at 8:22 pm #

      A, sending many thanks and much love!


  3. Denise October 23, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    Hi, Sharon thank you for sharing these very important points. I believe many people do not know how to sincerely apologize because they have not incorporated this as part of their inner self through their lives. When someone says they are sorry they are taking responsibility for their actions. We live in a time where it is very clouded. This extends from our relationships with family and friends to the laws which are supposed to protect us when we are wrongly treated.

    I look at it as if I do this when it is warranted, I begin to heal my inner self. If I wait or do not make the amends, it could turn to guilt and maybe something worse later on. It may take time for the person recieiving it to accept it or they may not accept. What I have done is own up to my responsibility by saying I am sorry.

    • sharon October 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

      Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights, Denise. I particularly appreciate your points about healing our inner self and about owning up to our responsibility. Thanks!

      Sending all my best wishes and a hug,


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