The other day, Ann wrote on our wall, asking what Starts at 60 readers thought about saying sorry. She said this:
I’d love to hear your views on ‘apologies’ saying sorry. What does it really mean? The ‘sooorriieess’ from our children, the back handed sorry’s from family & friends who then go on to explain/justify why they treated you badly or spoke untrue cruel or hurtful words. Is sorry important to you? Do you verbally say ‘I accept your apology’ & thank them? Does it affect the relationship afterwards?
It made me think about the way we say sorry to one another. Some of us refuse to say sorry, no matter whether we are sorry or if we are not. We don’t believe in apologising when we aren’t really sorry, even if it means sealing a rift in our friendship groups and families. And then there’s those of us who say sorry far too readily and bend over backwards to patch things up. So what are we teaching others about apologising? Are we setting by example? After all, shouldn’t we be imparting wisdom on our children and grandchildren?
When we teach young children about saying sorry, we tell them that when they do something wrong, it’s good to admit it and apologise. But do we really take our own advice through our lives? Saying sorry can be hard but it’s just a part of life. It’s far easier to say sorry than to hold a grudge, even if you technically didn’t make the error of judgement.
But sometimes, sorry can be overused and under-appreciated. You can say sorry til the cows come home but sometimes, it will go unnoticed.
My own mother is always very apologetic and will even write sorry messages to people she has hurt. My father, on the other hand, “doesn’t suffer fools” (in his own words) and would prefer to say what he thinks and hurt someone than apologise for how someone “feels”. It’s a hard one and it can hurt your ego to apologise when you have admit you’re wrong.
It also takes a big person to say “Hey, I stuffed up and I don’t want this to go on anymore” but so many of us would prefer to not acknowledge the problem for fear of embarrassment. Are you like that? It can be hard to look someone in the eyes when you need to admit you did something – I know myself that I have stuffed up and I thought about say sorry in my mind over and over again. I guess the problem was in the end that despite apologising, you never know if the person will accept the apology. Some will have already made up their mind while others will give you a second chance.
I personally have an example of when I’ve said sorry and I didn’t need to, but it was best for the situation I had a friend who I let stay with me whilst she was having marital issues. She stayed under my roof and paid me nothing. I guess that also made her believe she didn’t need to pay for anything at all and she didn’t need to clean. It got to the point where I couldn’t deal with the stress and I told her, as nicely as I could. She was deeply offended that I would suggest she was lazy (I didn’t say she was lazy) and she made me feel very upset. But yet, it was me who came to her and apologised. She felt very good about herself, you could tell, and she continued to use me. It was only after she moved out that I realised that I shouldn’t have been sorry – I had done everything right. I was still glad, though, that I was able to nip a situation in the bud. Have you been in a similar situation?
Are us over 60s too stubborn to say sorry?
So tell us today, what sort of apologiser are you? Do you say sorry often? Or do you keep your sorries close to your chest? When is it right or wrong to say sorry?