The Power of ‘Sorry’

I always thought that saying sorry was an admission of failure and a weakness, something to be avoided at all costs and derided when others said it. This was definitely learnt and reinforced at home and school. So, as a child I became artful at avoiding saying sorry, mastering all sorts of defensive and deceitful strategies simply to not say sorry, admit defeat or have my pride dented in any way.

This pattern of behaviour was fully entrenched by the time I reached adulthood and I can think of numerous situations when a mistake I had made was exposed and I would go into full ducking and diving mode, working fast to devise a way to divert the problem onto someone or something else.

What is flashing up for me now as I write is that this is what led to, or founded, my mastery of shirking responsibility.

Quite recently I have re-explored this – asking myself some pertinent and important questions.

This has come about because I started to notice that I am now saying sorry with ease; that it feels great and very opening in the relationship with the person I am saying sorry to and that, instead of reducing me in shame, it is freeing me from patterns of self-criticism and self-loathing.

I have found there is no shame in saying sorry – no abject apologising that leaves me less than the person I am apologising to – simply honesty, which comes with the humbleness and willingness to learn from mistakes.

I no longer want to shirk responsibility. I no longer want to avoid saying sorry.

And whilst these may appear small changes in my life, they are part of a bigger picture that has come about as I have worked with The Way of The Livingness a way of life that empowers everyone to know that they are in their own driving seats, not only masters of their own lives but an integral, essential part of humanity and all of our wellbeing.

Inspired by Serge Benhayon, who introduced me to The Way of The Livingness 9 years ago. I had absolutely no idea how life-changing this was going to be. Simple and practical, the teachings have transformed every area of my life and for this I am hugely grateful.

By Matilda Bathurst, Registered Midwife & Nurse, Teacher and Mother of 3 boys, Hampshire, UK

Further Reading:
Reaction Vs Response
From Apologist to Confident
The need to Being Right

715 thoughts on “The Power of ‘Sorry’

  1. The flipside of this is someone who always says ‘sorry’, even when it is not true or inappropriate. Neither is being truthful.

  2. Amazing how a word gets disfigured in its meaning and we shy away and eventually lose connection with the beauty of what the word truly offers, and what we miss out from the lack of its activation is pretty big.

  3. Sometimes we get into the habit of saying sorry for everything, even things that there’s no need to be sorry for as if being apologetic for breathing or feeling like everything is our fault. Then we can also take the stance that it would kill us to say we are sorry. Either position has been built up and cemented by our ideals and beliefs.

  4. I know some people that never would say ‘sorry’, because for them they would prefer to avoid any responsibility on their part and continue to play the victim and blame others. When we admit we have been wrong there is an opportunity for us to learn and grow form this experience without judging ourselves in any way.

    1. There are also environments like a number of big companies or other organisations where saying ‘sorry’ is considered a weakness, regardless of circumstances.

  5. Sorry is a word that brings with it a whole swathe of intentions and meanings, such as it can be a confirmation of the equal light that is within us all.

  6. Saying ‘sorry’ can be so powerful and healing and this doesn’t mean that you are ‘wrong’ or a bad person. It can light up everything if it is said from realization, not from someone making themselves small.

  7. Totally agree that there need not be shame in saying sorry and neither does being humble mean that you automatically hold yourself lesser than another. It can be simply about being honest as you say and acknowledging what you’ve recognised and are willing to learn from…

  8. What I just realised from reading your blog Matilda is that when we say sorry everyone involved gets the opportunity of closure in the situation – for in the acknowledgment of our mistake we can disarm the emotional reaction induced by the scenario. Thus, if people are willing to let it go there is no need to carry the hurt or issue anymore. So I agree, saying sorry is so not a sign of weakness or failure but can actually be one of honesty and completion.

    1. Thank you Suse. I agree. People have often told me not to say sorry as it is an admission of failure but actually I do not feel this is necessarily true. Saying sorry can often bring an opening for further sharing and deepening of a relationship bringing more understanding and harmony.

  9. The sorry word is so loaded and often when people use it, it comes fully loaded with emotions – for example, “I am so so so sorry, please forgive me” can come with a begging energy. My feeling is that people can use that (I know I have) to be ‘let off the hook’ from the other person, beg for forgiveness, receive the apology so you don’t need to feel so bad/shame at what you had done.

    Whereas, taking full responsibility for your actions (without shame or harshness) and sharing honestly with the other person about how you feel and what you did, and saying sorry with no real expectation of an outcome, feels much lighter and clearer. And less imposing on the other person as you are not absolving yourself by their forgiveness, you are brining that to yourself.

  10. “Simple and practical, the teachings have transformed every area of my life and for this I am hugely grateful.” I agree The Way of The Livingness takes care of all of life when we truly live it.

  11. When we feel ‘sorry’ for ourselves we make ourselves less than who we are but when we are aware that we have made an unintentional error ‘sorry’ is just a recognition of the fact.

  12. I had the opposite with sorry, I would be saying sorry for this or that , especially when feeling I was a bother, often it was not my problem, the sorry came from a place of being less, being unworthy. That has changed as I take more responsibility for my own life and stop being responsible for others. When sorry is used in its true sense it can be a very humbling experience opening us up to more evolution.

  13. I have no problem saying sorry when it is due, but I have had to learn to stop saying sorry or taking on responsibility for things that are not my responsibility for that is irresponsible.

  14. In the not too distant past (before finding Universal Medicine) I was on the opposite end of the ‘saying sorry’ spectrum, Matilda. I used to drop ‘sorries’ left and right and I would be apologising for all kinds of things that were not my responsibility and not even in my control at all! This was a result of a low level of self-worth and in a way I was not being responsible in the way I would always put myself down or assume I was at fault. By contracting like this by choice, I was letting others down by not letting them see the amazing me that I am!

    1. So well revealed Michael. I have been spending a bit of time with someone who apologises left right and centre and I have seen clearly how this is a game of the spirit that thinks it is going to win grace and safety by employing such a means, but actually the human spirit is using this ploy consciously and deliberately to keep itself small and thus not who we truly are, as your comment so well exposes. And yet ‘sorry’ said truly to someone one has abused in any way can be a powerful thing.

  15. I have often bemoaned the fact that a simple sorry would have gone a long way in situations e.g. in a shop when I am complaining about goods or a service and everyone seems very reluctant to admit they have done anything wrong. What I am now feeling is that this has often reflected for me my own irresponsibility in similar situations and how uncomfortable it is for those on the receiving end of such self-serving behaviour.

  16. Saying a heartfelt ‘sorry’ can be very powerful but avoiding saying it when it would be a helpful acknowledgement has an impact on our bodies which we then try and mask so the ultimate fallout is far greater than if we had just owned up in the first instance and been willing to take responsibility for our actions or inactions.

  17. It is really interesting that you said you learnt this behaviour because it is true that most of our behaviours are learned. I can see this in myself too that for a long time I would for instance have no issues with saying sorry and then suddenly because having observed it carefully in others and with an ideal or belief coming in at the same time, for instance that saying sorry makes you weak, I would take over the behaviour, leaving me years later wondering why I started to do that in the first place! Then to discard it again, and go back to what I originally felt was true. And that is what life is about isn’t it? Returning to our inner essence and living from that but what if we could be so steady in ourselves (without perfection) that we don’t have to try first to know what is true?

  18. Avoiding the sorry is saying yes with all your body to a situation where you go into sophisticated patterns to avoid walking with yourself and you are unable to meet another one straight to his/her eyes.

  19. Accepting our weaknesses are a reflection of the strength that is lived in our hearts, as it is only in those vulnerable moments we can let go of the protection in our bodies and simply reflect the delicateness within ourselves.

  20. There are many organisations where it is a career-limiting (i.e. career-ending) exercise to publicly admit to a mistake. In such a case it would be interesting to know how one can take responsibility without becoming a martyr.

  21. Saying Sorry when it’s meant is great for the body, releasing any guilt, self-reproach or self-loathing from festering unduly and getting deeply buried. But there’s also the throw-away Sorry, that’s there through convention – especially if you’re British 😉 – and can be felt by the recipient for the emptiness it represents.

  22. The quality and purpose in which we say sorry, or indeed anything we say, affects what is said more than the word itself.

  23. I used to think saying Sorry was an admission of guilt and shame and if these two emotions are behind the word sorry it feels horrible. Replace guilt and shame with the word responsibility and Sorry is expressed differently, because It comes from an honesty and a willingness to take responsibility for the choices that have been made. If Sorry is said from guilt and shame it comes loaded with a need for forgiveness but very little willingness to look at the choices that led to the need to say sorry.

    1. Yes, ‘sorry’ can easily be a way of getting out of a situation where there was something to learn or where it was clear that a change needed to be made.

  24. There is so much around the motions of sorry and apologie. Of late I have become aware that I am moving around like I am permanently apologizing for who I am. This is very subtle, but also very undermining of the steadiness and grace of my essence and something that I have begun to address. It is also very detrimental to everyone else as they are not graced with the full wonder of who I am.

  25. I find a great respect and humility is felt when we express that we are sorry from the heart. Relationships also grow from this quality of expression because it is also the quality in which we say sorry and when we feel truly sorry and not see sorry as being shameful it changes the configuration of our interactions too,

  26. Oops! There is a correction needed is much more sustainable? As in the past I have been forced to say I am sorry for things that I never did. So could it be being in a situation that needs correction we come together and equally express so we can all evolve?

  27. I had a similar aversion to saying sorry. I saw it as a failure on my part and criticised myself viciously for any mistakes I made, Plus subjected myself to the guilt that came along with whatever it was I had made a mistake with. No longer do I feel this. I welcome being exposed and taking responsibility for my part. In apologising I am given the opportunity to read the underlying hurt I was trying not to feel, or simply to allow myself to evolve out of behaviours that are destructive or harming.

  28. We can all learn much from our mistakes, ‘which comes with the humbleness and willingness to learn from mistakes.’

  29. From my observation the word ‘sorry’ is hounded out of us. This starts at a young age when I was growing up, for at school or at home if one made a mistake, in the judgement of the teacher or parents there was always a form of punishment resulted from what the adults judged. So as one grows up one learns not to admit to making an error, even if there was no malice, or admitting to something adults judge to be bad behaviour because punishment would result. Sometimes the punishment could be condescending judgement. So by the time we reach adult-hood we are conditioned not to say sorry.

    1. So well said John. Saying ‘sorry’ is virtually beaten out of us because of the knee-jerk reaction from people that is punishing judgment. Now we can deeply and lovingly respond with a ‘sorry’ because we know that all we have to do is express and not worry about anyone else’s reaction. There is something profoundly graceful in both giving an receiving an apology!

  30. Reading this again and saying sorry to myself feels very humbling. I have pushed and pulled my body into all sorts of situations and yet rarely took onboard how it felt/feels to live. But that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten nor can it not show me how to live.

    1. This apology is absolutely key Leigh. In understanding and accepting the way we have treated ourselves and saying sorry to ourselves, we open up the doors wide to Love.

  31. If only people knew how disarming and love-building it can be when someone says sorry and really means it. Not for one moment could there be anything between the two people. You are so right Matilda, there is great power in a true sorry!

  32. I was on the receiving end of someone saying sorry to me on the weekend. I felt quite hurt what they said, which came out of no-where and was unexpected and I felt unprepared. I had tears in my eyes and was able to show my vulnerability, this person immediately said sorry, held out their arms wide to give me a big warm hug. One little word, can and does rest the disturbance to a fresh new start as Amparo mentions above.

  33. Saying ‘sorry’ is very liberating for both persons; who says it and who receives it. It balances and clarifies something that has been disturbed in any way, and resets the situation to a new fresh start point.

  34. Simple and practical indeed. Admitting our mistakes is no big deal at all. And boy oh boy does it get easier with practice as does the self bashing lessen as we realise firstly how often we make mistakes, and that it’s ok, we’re here to learn through them…it’s all just one big playground.

  35. I also tend to avoid saying sorry, I do not find it easy, it is almost like I am admitting failure in some way. But the times I have said sorry, it has been very freeing, and was very natural.

  36. Never having an issue on expressing sorry, it is crucial to be aware that this expression does not keep us in the familiarity of finding fault with ourselves and feeling guilty, as that is a big cap on our fullness. Take responsibility and there can never be any more emotions of being wrong.

  37. I love how you say there need be no shame in saying sorry – how it can be a simple and humble expression of honesty – recognising a mistake we’ve made so that we can acknowledge the effect we have on others and truly learn from it. No self-loathing or condeming and no dismissing of things either.

  38. “simply honesty, which comes with the humbleness and willingness to learn from mistakes.” I have come to love this. If I make a mistake I willingly apologise if needed and open up to whatever I can learn from the situation. No more shame and guilt that entraps us in their heavy chains.

  39. “Simply honesty, which comes with the humbleness and willingness to learn from mistakes…. This is indeed a beautiful statement, and if we bring this awareness to our children then whole outdated paradigms of education must, by default, come tumbling down , and Whoops, will become one of our favourite words . ☺

  40. Very true Matilda, the word sorry can offer a healing in any situation when it is truly expressed from our body – in that moment we have chosen love and responsibility and allowed the space for us to learn and grow.

  41. Nothing can reduce us when we know our value and our worth. But everything we do and or avoid doing will not increase our value or our worth if we do not already come from a place of self-worth to begin with. The word sorry when spoken with humbleness and a true intent to learn, emanates an equalness with everyone.

  42. “I no longer want to shirk responsibility. I no longer want to avoid saying sorry”. Such simple words with such a powerful message Matilda, thank you.

  43. Sorry for me has been almost an excuse, and scape goat. There is absolutely no point in saying sorry if you are not prepared to take responsibility and address why it happened in the first place.

  44. I found that embracing saying sorry has been greatly freeing, as in being honest about not being ourselves in that moment, we let go of the falsity, the game that holds us less that who we are as such we are accepting the responsibility of our choices through which we are then empowered to make a different choice whenever the opportunity arises again – which in my experience it always does. Saying sorry is very honoring not only of who we greatly are but also the reflection that we all deserve to receive from each other.

  45. To admit a mistake and say sorry was not something I easily did either but I did say sorry many times when I thought I was in the way or bumped into someone, or even when they bumped into me etc. Totally misplaced in most of the times because of a lack of self worth, apologising I am here. Both kind of saying sorry do require an honesty and a love for oneself to claim we are human and are forever students of life.

  46. “…there is no shame in saying sorry…” – with the honesty there is actually dignity in doing so.

  47. An honest and appreciative ‘sorry’ means to let go of any resistance to admit ones ‘errors’, judgments, regret and thus letting go of the past and being ready to move onwards with more understanding.

  48. Shirking responsibility and the space to learn from our mistakes only hinders growth. Why hold back the amazingness of who we are, when we can connect and share with honesty about who we are and how we are feeling in a particular situation. Expressing truth is empowering and can bring more understanding and awareness to our lives. It’s very cool to think that one word can bring such truth and honesty to our way of life, when it is expressed from the heart.

  49. There is a crucial ‘something’ about ‘sorry’ and that for me is its surrender of the individualistic myth which brings a simple humbleness. Truly beautiful as a starting point for the next expression.

  50. Sorry and sorry and then there is sorry. What is in a simple word and why are there different sorrys? As the article said sorry was a difficult thing and at the time it seemed like an admission of failure or weakness. I think that is because I thought sorry was about another person and didn’t realise it was personal. When it’s a true sorry your body releases and you let go of what ever it was that was there. Sorry use to be something you had to do for someone, they needed to hear sorry so they felt better and in that was a pressure to perform and a hope that they forgave you. Sorry isn’t just a word though and I remember just saying the word to get something or have something done. Now when there is a sorry I realise it’s actually an action, if we are truly sorry then in our next step the awareness of what has happened will support us to not make the same step again. It’s not that you curb your behaviour, it’s more of feeling what it was that was done and saying no when you register that feeling again, knowing the path it leads to. Sorry, a simple word but is defined by it’s action.

  51. Saying sorry from the honesty of our heart brings great respect and the space to truly learn from life and all who encompass it. Thank you Matilda

  52. Another very important note as taken by the reader as written by the writer:
    “And whilst these may appear small changes in my life, they are part of a bigger picture that has come about as I have worked with The Way of The Livingness – a way of life that empowers everyone to know that they are in their own driving seats, not only masters of their own lives but an integral, essential part of humanity and all of our wellbeing.”
    One comment , that got all answers to our woes inside, so lets truly listen and ponder on it this time.

  53. This is huge, this is absolutely huge, makes me truly ponder and feel my relationship with my responsibility and so the avoidance I had and still have at times. It is so good to just be honest about that and feel what it is we, we are avoiding, as most of the time it might seem or look uncomfortable what it might bring – but this is often illusion, as we grow our hearts by every step on the way.. How could this be a nagging thing?

  54. I can very much relate Matilda and so just love looking at sorry as simply honesty… and the humbleness and willingness to learn from mistakes. There is no point shirking responsibility when it’s our evolution that’s at stake.

  55. Sometimes if we can’t say sorry and want to blame others for what has happened it is because we have forgotten that anything untoward that has occurred from our careless actions is an energy coming through us, not from us as we truly are. So if we have become identified with that energy, instead of saying ‘sorry’ and realising that we chose not to stay with our true self, we cannot bear it and have to cast out the blame elsewhere as a kind of pain relief. Observation is the name of the game and the openness that comes with that is a very endearing and healing thing.

  56. Sorry at the right time and place is a very healing thing and I agree it demonstrates a willingness to develop one’s responsibility. To instead to try to shift blame to others is deeply harmful and irresponsible, but this is mostly where our societies are at.

  57. It’s so much simpler and easy to say sorry if needed – and take responsibility – than be arrogant or defensive and blame other people – I wonder if this defensiveness or reluctance to say sorry comes from often getting into trouble or shouted in those kind of situations when we were kids? Would we be more open to it if we were met with understanding and love?

  58. When we live with a ‘humbleness and willingness to learn from mistakes’ the whole world opens up to both discover and reveal the budding potential of our full bloom.

  59. Those who make way for truth – enter the domes of heaven. From this source one can live in a way that is as yet almost unknown/rare (but deep down inside we know it).. So, the easiest way to come out of a mess, is to come back to the truth, just that, so simple. Thank you… already one step closer to Soul.

  60. Recently I have seen within myself patterns of behaviour that I recognise I will benefit from overcoming, in this it feels important to me that I apologise if I have gone into this pattern. Yet the saying sorry is in this case is not as important as the commitment to change, so I do not have to keep repeating the apology. The more heartfelt way to apologise in this case would actually be to not be in the situation again where such an apology is necessary. That seems like the most powerful way of saying sorry.

  61. The simple word ‘sorry’ can be exposed as not so simple when we realise the multitude of different energies with which it may be expressed.

  62. A heartfelt ‘sorry’ can be felt in a change of energy and is even more beautiful when it is expressed in words as well.

    1. Hear hear Kathleen. I have been unexpectedly blessed with people on a couple of occasions recently saying that they are sorry and it has opened up an even deeper and more loving and appreciative dimension to our relationship. There is nothing more disarming than a genuine heart felt ‘sorry’ – to both give and receive.

  63. A genuinely felt and truthfully expressed apology clears the air and allows us to drop a burden that we don’t need to be carrying around with us any longer. Not taking stock of what happened honestly drags us down and can be like a millstone around our neck, making us duck and weave in an attempt to avoid responsibility.

  64. I have seldom had trouble with the word sorry, as I learnt early that if it was used earnestly enough it was almost a get out of jail free card even if not meant. Responsibility on the other hand has up until recently been a dirty word, nothing was ever my fault and I was always the victim,so learning that where we are in life is a direct result of every decision we have ever made and that there is no such thing as an accident or a coincidence and embracing his as truth has been the ultimate liberation from myself and the start of a beautiful loving relationship with my old foe responsibility.

  65. Sorry is a magic word when said from the heart, it allows both parties to be free of the hurt or reactions that created the situation. There is freedom, healing and evolution in sorry.

  66. Words are powerful and if shared with the true quality and intent they are felt. However if words are used loosely with no truth and quality, they are just words. “Sorry” is one of those words that I have heard either used really loosely and feels empty and on spoken in truth and I felt it touch my heart.

  67. I think very few, if any, really understood how much their lives would change with the support of Serge Benhayon and the UM practitioners.

    1. This is a beautiful reminder that it starts with ourselves, that we are allowed to and absolutely deserve to treat ourselves with deep love and care. Thank you Matts.

  68. How freeing it is to realise that making mistakes is part and parcel of learning and growth and to accept ourselves for where we are at, imperfections, warts and all is a natural part of taking responsibility for our lives.

  69. ‘Simple and practical, the teachings have transformed every area of my life and for this I am hugely grateful.’ Same same here Matilda I did not know it was a word but yes hugely grateful for what Serge Benhayon has brought forth with the teaching and I appreciate myself and everyone who has been inspired and chose to make loving changes to a life that maybe was okay but not lived in a more responsible way.

  70. Saying sorry without any shame, regret or feeling of being less allows us to learn the lesson that is being offered and truly take responsibility.

  71. “sorry” has become heavily drenched in emotions, whereas really it should be a description of our willingness to learn and move on

    1. I agree Michael Brown. The emotional tone in the word sorry is what brings the feeling of failure, disappointment or shame and often leads to irresponsibility rather than a moment of truth and learning.

  72. A word I used to resist was ‘oops’ because it would then mean that I would have to expose that I made a choice that was unloving, unsupportive or harmful. Much like ‘sorry’ I can relate to that avoidance of having made a mistake, of having chosen wrongly or to avoid feeling via the reflection of another that how I have been living has not truly worked and/or only left myself, situations and others in a lesser state than need be. I can really relate to in that claiming the quality of my choices in life it cuts dead that self-criticism. Theres nothing wrong with saying sorry or oops or claiming that we’ve stuffed up when we take responsibility. If anything I am learning that that is the healthiest stance to take because then I am open to addressing and not repeating the mistake. Thank you Matilda.

  73. Sorry is a word that holds so much it’s a short simple word, but when we use it and don’t mean it, it hangs around us in some form of resentment, yet when we say it with true meaning it has a sense of clearing with no further attachment and an opportunity to honour another.

  74. I met someone last week who was saying ‘sorry’ all over the place when really there was no need, I felt quite uncomfortable with this, and said there is no need to say you are sorry.

  75. Saying sorry is taking responsibility, admitting that what we have done may not have been the best way. By this expression of truth it enables us to let the situation to complete and others we may of hurt, to heal.

  76. I love the simplicity in which this was written Matilda. Very relatable as I too became a master of bobbing and weaving out of the way of responsibility at all costs

  77. Ha ha! my experience is the opposite. I used to say sorry for lots of things that were not my fault or necessarily anybodys fault but rather because I thought that they (mostly a customer) needed an apology because something had not met their expectations, whether or not they had made me aware beforehand of their expectations. This was definitely a case of making myself less and I have been working on eradicating this, not yet completely mastered, but a huge improvement.

    1. Yes Doug, I have been on both sides of the fence. Saying sorry when it wasn’t really needed, and then avoiding it because I felt it was in some way admitting defeat. I used to think life was a battle and there was the hidden agenda of scoring points over others. It was a very exhausting way to live. Having a quality of humbleness gives me the chance to know I’m not perfect (of course I am going to make mistakes) and that saying sorry will not make me less.

  78. When we are humbled and are willing to honestly learn from our mistakes and imperfections we graduate with full honors into wisdom.

  79. Enormous what one word can hold depending how we use it. This shows that there is much more to communication and life but the simple word, that it is always a question of the quality we choose and the intention that lies underneath every word we speak.

  80. There is a strength in saying sorry, recognising we are human and will make mistakes as we are learning to return to be our love in full.

  81. The word’ sorry’ spoken with a true heart is so powerful and healing. And there are many ways of saying sorry besides actually saying the word as was highlighting to me last weekend in what could have appeared as a small gesture made towards me. Very beautiful.

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