Why Is It So Hard To Apologize?

Honestly. Think about how many times in your life you have had to say "I'm sorry." From the first time as a young toddler to being an adult, throughout life we are faced with having to own up to mistakes we have made and say "I'm sorry." As a 23-year-old, I can't think of how many times in my life I've said: "I'm sorry." I happen to make mistakes all the time, and therefore I think it's safe to assume I've mustered up the words "I'm sorry" more than 100 times. Probably more like 1,000. With that being said, I can think of maybe 90/100 of those times that I have said: "I'm sorry, but,..." then tried to justify why I did whatever it is I am having to apologize for. I got into a conversation regarding this the other day with a couple of friends and found that I am not alone in this. As humans, we find it so much easier to apologize if we get the chance to defend ourselves. But why?

Remember the episode of Friends- "The One With Ross's Sandwich"? If you're not a Friends fanatic, in this episode, Ross has a special Thanksgiving sandwich that he has waited since the previous Thanksgiving to eat. He finds out that someone in his office ate his sandwich and flies off the handle. While getting angry that someone stole your food makes complete sense, it definitely isn't something to remain upset over, and that's exactly what Ross does for the majority of the episode. Towards the end, Ross's boss is talking to him about his crazy behavior surrounding the eaten sandwich and comes to confess that it was him who ate the sandwich. Shortly after apologizing, he states: "it was just a simple mistake, it could happen to anyone." Even though this is a show, this entire example rings true when it comes to apologizing. Instead of just ending it with an "I'm sorry", we attempt to justify and lessen the apology with an explanation.

Sometimes, an explanation is needed. Those cases though, are few and far between. When you speak out of turn or hurt someone's feelings- especially someone you love- saying you're sorry and just flat out owning up to what you did is going to be much more meaningful if you don't fill it with fluff. Which is why we need to work on just being able to admit our mistakes, apologize for them outright, and move forward.

Learning to apologize without backing up why you did what you did can be tough. Sometimes, especially for those like me who tend to be more passive-aggressive and don't like confrontation, the need to explain yourself is a mechanism used to make us feel less bad about the situation. Sparing feelings or attempting to lessen the blow are usually good-hearted intentions, but learning to apologize straight up will get you so much further in life. It'll be difficult, but sometimes someone just needs those 2 words and nothing else.

Apologizing does not need to be so difficult. You know why you did what you did, and if the other person or persons involved need to know why too, then you can get that extra explanation. Before that, just practice being able to say "I'm sorry" and mean it. Soon it'll become a habit and people will admire your strength to fess up and be respectful towards who you are apologizing.

In the words of Justin Bieber, "Is it too late now to say 'Sorry'"?