You know what one of the hardest things to say is?
I’m sorry – and not add the ‘but you…’ at the end.
I’m happy enough to apologise if I can shift some of the blame onto someone else. And you know what, most of the time it is partly someone else’s fault.
But are we really sorry if we’re still trying to justify ourselves?
“I’m sorry I broke your vase – but you shouldn’t have left it in such a stupid place.”
“I’m sorry I said that – but you really wind me up when you use that tone of voice on me!!!”
“I’m sorry you didn’t understand me – but you’re the one not bothering to listen properly.”
Sounds like real repentance, doesn’t it?
So that’s my current challenge: just plain “I’m sorry”.
Maybe later, after we’ve both calmed down, I can come back and say: “Please can we talk through what upset us earlier? When you use that voice on me, what I’m hearing is “I don’t trust you to make a simple decision”. Now, I love you and I don’t think that’s what you were trying to say so please can we work on this?”
No. It’s not always going to happen. But I wonder how many arguments would stop escalating if we could just simply say “I’m sorry for doing/saying that”.
My challenge: listen to yourself. See how often your “I’m sorry’s” have the side salad of “but you…”.