I am sorry…
My wife would tell you I say this quite frequently. The problem is that I often don’t mean it. That sounds horrible but truth be told often times my brain simply catches that I have done or said something that leads to potential or actual conflict with someone else. I don’t like having conflict. Maybe this has something to do with my chosen profession – psychotherapist if I failed to mention this.
Regardless, I catch myself saying these 3 words way too often. I often tell young patients the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf (sad side note: most of them do not know the story – possibly a different blog in the future. For those of you who may have been deprived of this story the moral is to be truthful or you will be eaten by a wolf on a mountainside while being a shepherd…or something close to that.
BOTTOM LINE – if we say something over and over yet continue a behavior, are we truly sorry? Quite the dilemma.
In all reality, we can be sorry in that moment but make the same mistake repeatedly. Again, we can be sorry for each episode and mean it whole-heartedly. Yet, the person on the receiving end, often my wife in my case, is left believing I do not mean what I say.
Catching our behaviors to make a change
This is where the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words” is most applicable. We have to catch our behaviors and intentionally make a change. This comes by learning why we do what we do. We may have been taught to act in a way that differs from our spouse, friends, boss, etc. We may be afraid. We may be depressed.
We may be angry. Emotions are powerful motivators but often times are misleading. We often try to control situations only to manifest that which we try to avoid. If we truly are sorry for something, we need to take time to understand why we repeat and action that may hurt those whom we love. Our true selves – not the fearful, conditioned ones – want to be in harmony, peace, and joy with those whom we love. We still can mean it when we say we are sorry after repeating an offense. But the focus needs to be on loving ourselves to understand why we are acting in a certain fashion that causes harm to others.
The flips side of this is for the person who is being harmed to continue to hold a place of compassion and patience for those who are in transformation. Ask my wife; she has been patient as a saint in many ways. Then again, so have I. We both have been sorry AND we both try to change in order to support love. By the way, the need to reflect and change never stops – it’s all part of the joyride. So sit back, put your arms up, and let go…but don’t forget to say sorry, grab the wheel, and then change direction.
I think this applies to I love you’s too. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.