Why Saying “I’m Sorry” is Good for You

By Diana Vaden

Photo by Emily Fletke  @fletkefoto

Photo by Emily Fletke @fletkefoto

The last thing I wanted to do was say “I’m sorry.”

I bombed an audition.

I’ve had some bad auditions, but this one outstripped all others -- the vocal equivalent of a face-plant. Even worse, I auditioned in front of two talented friends I wanted to impress. Embarrassed isn’t a strong enough word for what I felt. Then I got their rejection email the next day: We will not be asking you to join our music group, it announced. Ouch.  

Instead of processing this disappointment in a healthy way, I decided to talk crap behind my friends’ backs and play the blame game. Whenever I talked about the audition to other friends, I went off!

“Oh the audition was crazy! They asked us to prepare way too much music. And the setup was terrible. They didn’t tell me the whole band was going to be there! Plus, they were not encouraging during the whole thing. I think they set us up to fail.”

Then, my wounded and offended self avoided those two friends at all costs.

GOSSIP IS NOT A GOOD HEALER

However, no matter how much I complained or bad-mouthed the audition and my friends, the disappointment I felt did not go away.

The following week I read about forgiveness in a book called Soul Care.  Immediately, my two friends came to mind and the truth hit me. I couldn’t face the fact I simply didn’t sing well that day. And out of self-preservation and pride, I turned my disappointment into hurtful words against my friends. That, I realized, was wrong.

I had a choice. Either I could quietly feel guilty about my wrongdoing or I could ‘fess up to them and clear the air. I badly wanted to brush my bad behavior under the rug and resolve never to say anything mean about them again. Somehow, that didn’t feel right. My complaining had not been justified. I had strained our friendship by blaming them for my bad audition. My words and actions had been petty and immature.

I had to do the right thing. I had to ask for forgiveness.

THE HARDEST BUT BEST CONVERSATION

I called my friends and suggested we meet for coffee. They thought I just wanted feedback on the audition.

Surrounded by the smell and sound of freshly ground coffee beans, I took a deep breath, braced myself and spoke the toughest words ever: “I have talked badly about you. I have disrespected you with my words and blamed you for my bad audition. I acknowledge my mistake and take responsibility for my behavior that has damaged our friendship.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Will you forgive me?”

They were shocked at my unexpected confession. They hadn’t realized I had talked badly about them, but they had noticed the strain on our friendship since the audition. To my surprise, they were quick to forgive and actually grateful I was mature enough to own up and clear the air. Thank goodness! I’m so glad for their response; I had prepared for the worst.

OWNING UP CLEARS THE AIR

By the end of the conversation, we were laughing together like we used to. The weight of wrongly spoken words had been lifted from me. We even had a productive discussion about the audition. I left with valuable singing tips, a stronger friendship with talented people I admire, and a clearer conscience.

Words really matter, especially a genuine “I am so sorry.” It’s good for the other person and for you and me.

Does someone come to mind when you read this? Do you need to ‘fess up and clear the air with that person?