We all have habitual characteristics that others identify us with. Some people only wear a certain color. There are people who have a unique laugh that can only be theirs. For me, I have a habit of saying “sorry”… even when I am not sorry. If I am asking a question to someone, I start of with “I’m sorry but…”. If someone is doing a favor for me, I say “sorry” instead of “thank you”. Even when I am sorry, my apologies are always exaggerated: “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I really didn’t mean to do that. What can I do to fix it? Are you sure we’re good?”. Just call me “Sorry Not Sorry…Maybe”.
I’ve had the habit for years now, and I never thought to dig deep and figure out why I overuse the word “sorry”. Until now. I realized that my apologies come from GUILT…guilt that I feel and internalize. Guilt that I accept not as a mistake or a lesson learned, but as a wicked part of who I am.
Let me take you back: Years ago, my sister, cousins and I were obsessed with our PlayStation… Spyro the Dragon was in our top three favorite games. One day, I was playing Spyro at my grandma’s house in my cousins room, on the top bunk bed. I was so into the game that when Spyro rolled on the ground, I rolled too… right off the bed, cutting my chin on the way down. The incident left a dark scar under my chin, and to this day whenever I look in the mirror and see that scar I remember playing Spyro, rolling off the bed, and the laughter and jokes from my sister and cousins so clearly!
GUILT can be like that also…it can suddenly flood your mind with an overwhelmingly gut-wrenching, paralyzing, shameful feeling with just the slightest trigger. The mention of a name. A fragrance. A familiar-looking car passing by on the highway. A Facebook update from a person you hurt. At its worse, guilt can show up and show out. It can take away your sense of self-worth. For me, guilt is the type of presence that convinced me that I do not deserve to be happy, successful, satisfied…FORGIVEN. Guilt has been my Life-Snatcher, the root to my “Sorry Not Sorry…Maybe”.
I prayed about it, wrote multiple pages in my journal about it, vented to my mother about it, spent sessions on it. In the end, I found that my mistakes, my guilt, does not define who I am.
“Guilt isn’t always a rational thing…guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not”
As humans, we all make choices that were not right. We all did something that caused someone else to hurt or suffer. We all felt the ugly presence of guilt. And this is O.K. The trick with guilt is to see it, accept it, and use it as a chance to become better. Another trick I learned about guilt is to try to consciously understand that your guilt may be irrational… because while you live in your guilt, swimming in negativity, the people who were effected by you has forgiven you and moved on, void of the heavy burden of guilt and shame. The Scripture said it best:
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you”
This is what I strive to tell myself daily: Try not to look back at your guilt. Look ahead, leave the heavy burden of guilt behind, and take the light package of life lessons with you on your journey to being your best self!