Sorry seems to be the hardest word

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” At least, that’s what Elton John sings.

Image courtesy to“Sorry” seems to convey that there is something wrong with us, that we did something bad, and that -as a result of our action- we are unworthy of love, acceptance, and belonging. It is the beggar’s word in a one-up relationship, where I know what is good and what is bad, and decide whether you are good enough to be in the inside circle.

Sometimes this burden of self-incrimination turns into the opposite, and our “sorry!” becomes oblique, as we run out the door, leaving our spouse frustrated with our unwashed dishes and our stuff at the counter, with no intention to clean up after ourselves the next time we’re in a hurry.

It does not have to be this way.

Sorry can also reflect a profound self-reflective journey of looking inward and acknowledging the times we did not show up the way we wanted.

The ten days between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur invite us to this journey of self-connection and reflection on our transgressions against G*d, our fellow living beings, and ourselves.

I understand transgressions not in the legal way, but as a longing to awaken to our true nature of love, compassion, and mindfulness, and to our innate desire to contribute to the well-being of others, including ourselves.

Atonement is the process of restoring our at-one-ment, our interbeing.

Nonviolent Communication calls it the cycle of Mourning, Celebrating, and Learning. We ask ourselves which universal, human, precious needs were unmet with the behavior we now regret. And we ask ourselves which precious, human, universal needs we did meet -or were trying to meet- with the behavior we now regret. And in that process of looking deeply, understanding, and accepting our choices, we open up to learning different ways to nurture all those needs: the ones we met and the ones we didn’t meet. It is the process of connecting to our values and that what is most important to us: life and love.

When we approach the word “sorry” as an indication of our learning, as a sign that we realize our unskillfulness in pursuing our needs, without giving up our dignity and worthiness of love, acceptance, and belonging, it is the easiest word possible. It expresses that we are human beings who search, sometimes stumble, through life, looking for ways to honor our needs, those of others, and those of G*d. It indicates that we are not stuck in the past, wallowing in our regret, but that we open up to life and making more wholesome choices in the future.


You want help to mourn, celebrate, and learn from actions you now regret? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

2 Replies to “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”

  1. The word sorry reminds me of the word love. Used way to frequently and it loses its meaning. When I hear people say before they hang up the phone, “love you,” it sounds more like a script line. My wife rarely says “I love you,” but when she does, it makes me tingle inside. The word sorry has that kind of meaning as well for me. I hear people say so often, “Oh sorry bout that.” Saying it with no feeling, just a reaction, more than from the heart. To be truly sorry is to feel true remorse for hurting another persons feelings. Sorry is a word used too often, like love, it’s the word that can carry a lot, or truly mean nothing at all. When I’m sorry, it makes me do a serious introspection of myself. Why would I not be sensitive to another, what was my reason. I like the blog Miss Elly, you truly keep me thinking better thoughts. Peace

    1. Dear Richard,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with words like “I love you”, and “sorry”. You’re saying that these words are too often said without any connection, and even self-connection? You want people to check in with themselves, reflect on their behavior, and share what is truly alive, not just utter some words that carry no meaning or purpose?
      If so, I understand that. “Sorry’ can be powerful, when it is preceded and followed by amends that convey a sense of integrity, just like “I love you” needs to be grounded in a willingness and effort to support, connect, understand, and care for the person we say we love.
      Thanks for sharing!

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