OK, so I’m playing off of Stephen Colbert’s word, “Truthiness,” Which he defined as,

Truthiness is ‘What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.’ It’s not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There’s not only an emotional quality, but there’s a selfish quality.”

As we’ve mentioned in our last two communication missives, the cure for Truthiness is honesty about our interpretations. So:

Truthiness: “My husband is always to blame, never listens, and doesn’t want to be with me.”
Honesty: “I’m feeling cold and distant from you (said to husband…) and the story I’m telling myself is that I am unheard, unloved, and ignored.”

Truthiness is all about going from the gut with no evidence. Honesty is speaking for yourself about what you know about—yourself.. AND, especially with the “The story I’m telling myself…” part, you’re cheerfully admitting that you’re making it up as you go along.

So, what about Sorryness?

This is my word for an insincere apology, designed to defuse the situation, while not being even close to real.

But first, about Canada…


Sorry! No! Sorry! Sorry!

People in Canada, including me, talk funny. One thing I noticed when I moved here in 1975 is that the word “Sorry” gets used like punctuation. In the US, if two people get to a door at the same time, one will step back and say, “After you.” Or, “Pardon me.” In Canada, BOTH parties, like as not, will mumble, “Sorry.”

One of my clients flails a lot during bodywork, and each time, says “Sorry!” I say, “Try “Oops!” Or say nothing. It’s not like she did it on purpose and is therefore sorrowful.

Which is what the word means. Sorry means, “I am sorrow-full about.” Why would one be sorrowful when arriving at a door the same time as another, or bumping into someone?

So, sorryness is using insincere words to stop dialogue in its tracks.

A friend wrote last week, to suggest this topic. Here’s one sentence:

Its more ‘sorry’ as an out for repetitive actions and perhaps to protect one from, or not be curious about ‘retaliatory’ actions.

As you likely know if you read this blog regularly, I’m a big fan of the “action” part of the Communication Model. In other words, what you do is who you are. Who you say you are, or what you promise to do, is information. And it’s only purpose is to be compared to action. If your words match your actions, you are “in integrity.” If your actions do not match, you are “lacking integrity.”

Sorry seems to be the dumbest word

Let’s think about an apology (a much better, less charged word…) You do something you regret, and you apologize. Either directly or indirectly you are saying , “I won’t do that again.”

If you do it again, you lied.

One client said, “I told my husband I’d never criticize him again, and that I was sorry for having done it in the past. But then he did this really dumb thing, and I really told him off.” Out of integrity.

The opposite of sorryness is curiosity

If someone says, “Sorry, I didn’t mean that,” or whatever, say. “Thanks, and I’m curious about your intent for doing that.”

Sorryness is intended to get you to stop being curious. Sorryness is flung out there as a sop to the “offended party.” It’s intended to change the subject, or make the subject go away. And it’s also designed to allow for repeats of the offending behaviour.

And… there’s no offense, if you don’t pick it up

At least there isn’t if you don’t bite and slip out of the Communication Model. The Model insists that we talk only for ourselves, own what we are doing internally, and exhibit (as above) curiosity.

So, I’m curious about what you might be thinking, behind the sorryness.”

So, I’m noticing that you said you were not going to criticize, and I’m hearing you do that right now. I’m wondering if you are aware that your actions doon’t appear to be matching your intentions, from my perspective.”

If I do not take offense, or create the internal story of “Poor me, hard-done-by,” then the situation both defuses, and has the potential to become a dialogue. If I refuse to engage in sorryness (or truthiness, truth be told…) then I can speak directly about my dramas. If I accept responsibility for my actions, and invite you to take responsibility for yours, then curiosity is the key to intimacy.

Give the word, “Sorry” a rest. Try, “I apologize,” or “Oops!” Make a correction, take a step back, and return to honesty and openness.

The truth, indeed, will set you free.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Go to the top of this article, click on the title, and leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

4 thoughts on “Sorryness”

  1. Loved this one! In my language, there is no real word for’s way too formal. So, either we blame each other or we do more respons-able things like saying like “Forgive me” or ” I did not mean to cause you harm” or “Here is what we should do to fix it”. Really rough translations. Instead of saying sorry, which is to me, quick and dirty, I like owning my part in something and going from there.

    • Yeah, I get the “informal” part. Way, way too easy, too!
      Trusting all’s well with you — Newfoundland departure is getting closer!
      Let’s do dinner.

  2. Hi Wayne

    How apt this column for me today. As you say that lazy language is really just a foil to deflect any consideration of the motive behind some behaviour.

    Unfortunately however, most folk react badly to having that mask exposed.

    Keep it up, I love ya.

    Regards, Peter

    • Hey Peter!
      Nice hearing from you!
      We’re working on removing the word from our vocab., and it’s such a Canadianism. So, now we say, “Sorry! Oops! No I’m not!” And then apologise (if it’s an act of clumsiness — ie stepping on someone) or say what we really mean, “I spoke with malicious intent. Here’s what I really mean.” Cludgy, but helpful — like substituting “I think” for “I feel.”
      Life’s good here for us, altho we are still mulling “retirement.” We’ve committed to deciding during March break!
      Warmly, with affection!


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