The phrase “I’m sorry” has so many potential meanings and applications that it is nearly incomprehensible.
My wife and I have worked on removing it from our conversation with each other in favor of more explicit phrases. There are two main substitutes we use instead:
One of the main reasons that drove us to make this change came from the compassionate style of “sorry” usage. Often, exchanges went something like this:
I’m sorry that happened.
It’s ok. It wasn’t your fault.
I wasn’t actually taking the blame for it.
Usually that second speaker was me. 😆
After this had happened enough times, I asked if we could try to make a change so I could more easily understand with clarity.
I have found that a side effect of using this increased precision of language is a greater feeling of intentionality. It can be all too easy when seeing someone suffering to blithely toss an “I’m sorry” their way. Consciously stopping to say the words has helped me feel more actual compassion. I also feel a heightened sense of accountability when I wronged someone and then realize it and deliberately apologize.
If this has resonated with you, I invite you to join me in a practice of greater compassion and accountability through increased precision of language. I hope you find as beneficial as I have.