Sorry, Not Sorry


The phrase “sorry, not sorry” became popular a few years ago as a pseudo-apology without any real responsibility taken for whatever action you were attributed the saying with. Zooming out to a greater context we can see that what started off as a cheeky comeback, can show us that the concept really encompasses how our society handles the act of apologizing.

Have you ever had someone say things to you like…

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings…”

“I’m sorry that you took what I said the wrong way…”

“It was not my intention to XYZ…”

While, on the surface, they all may seem like legitimate apologies, they never really take ownership for the fact that they hurt you by either their words or actions.

Can there be a formula for an apology? YES actually! If you find yourself struggling to find the words when you are in the wrong, try following these steps below.

The ABC Apology:

Admit what you did wrong.
This is always the hardest step. Try to rationally and clearly state the action you did (without adding your reasoning or excuses!) that the other person said hurt them.

Believe the best in the other person.
We can tend to make up stories about what the other person may or may not be thinking, what their intentions could possibly be, or even identifying what their motivations are. But, overall, assuming the best in the other person can help mitigate even more potential conflict.

Communicate your plans for the future in a clear way.
“I know that when I did XYZ, it hurt you. I plan to do/not do XYZ in the future.” It can be that cut and dry to close out the conversation. Keep it short and sweet!

Now try to remember that attempting new things can always be clunky at first. So, if you have trouble taking ownership of something that hurt another person, you are not alone! If you need an outside perspective or someone to help you process, consider speaking to a wise friend or a professional therapist - my door is always open.