I often advise other people to eliminate the word "sorry" from their vocabulary. Sometimes I then hear that this is quite disrespectful. But exactly the opposite is the case!
Imagine you accidentally bump into someone in a crowd. Then you probably say "Sorry!" quite automatically. But think about it: Did you really blame yourself in this situation?
Feelings of guilt are fantasies related to the past: something has happened, you have done something or omitted to do something, and you start to think, if I had behaved differently, it would have turned out better, more right.
But do we really have a proof that it would have come "better"? No. We have this proof just as little as we have guilt that something has come now differently than it could have come theoretically! What would have been if you had not collided with the other? Do you "know" that it would have gone then better? Stop with the guilt fantasy!
I learned something important from Dr. John Demartini: When he accidentally bumps into someone, he says, "Oh, interesting! Now I'm curious why the universe must have brought us together!" - Not a single thought of blame, or even apology.
Who excuses whom?
Of course, there are also situations in which one can bear real guilt. But if we are really guilty, can we just apologize like that? Is it done when, for example, a murderer says, "Yes, I murdered here and I apologize, " and that's it? Of course not. A person who is guilty cannot simply apologize himself; the most he can do is ask for forgiveness. And those to whom he owes something can then decide whether to forgive him the debt. Whether they take away his guilt, i.e. whether they de-guilt him. Or rather, in civilized societies there are (legal) rules on how the question of guilt is resolved. In the Lord's Prayer it is clearly stated: please forgive us and we forgive our debtors. No one can do it for himself!
With inflationary apologizing, it's all too easy to create the appearance that you can do whatever you want and run around bumping into or harming everyone. "It's so easy! If I bump into someone, I just say sorry and it's over and the other person has to be nice to me again now!" But of course it's not that simple. Respect demands that I ask for an apology when I've done something bad. If I could simply apologize myself, that would mean that I decide what makes others tick. And that would be extremely disrespectful.
Words are thoughts
As a rule, what we do does not make us feel guilty, and therefore the word - or more precisely the phrase - "Sorry!" does not fit at all. And where we really should take responsibility for something bad, we have a duty to ask and plead with the other person, "Is it OK if I make it up to you this way? Will you excuse me?"
So: No inflationary apologizing! Either there is no blame, or I really have something to do well, and then a phrase is not enough. We all know how high the influence of language is on our thoughts and feelings. That's why we should be very careful with the word "sorry" anyway, because with it we say to ourselves, "I'm to blame!" And we create feelings of guilt within ourselves. By the way, feelings of guilt make some of the worst body chemistry (can be measured!).
Whoever looks at it will be more mindful: both towards his fellow human beings and towards himself. Because he will go through life with a different responsibility and a different respect. And whoever wants to be treated respectfully should first give respect to others.