On Expressing Gratitude And Regret


I believe

“Gratitude needs to be expressed. A person may knowingly or unknowingly enrich your life by his/her thoughts /actions. However insignificant or intangible they may seem to him/her if they bring even the slightest positiveness, strength, love or happiness to the receiver then they need to be appreciated. Also I believe that such reciprocation of warmth cements the human bond (Wont give it a name like love, friendship etc) . Gratitude should also be taken graciously and seen as the love and appreciation from the receiver to the giver.

I remember sharing this on Facebook and here are two main responses to my status.

 Shail  says,

I believe in expressing gratitude and also accepting the same from others gracefully. Some stupid movies and books have popularised the philosophy of, “No sorry and thank you between friends”. Never heard such bs. Excuse me! I beg to differ. I shall aplogize and say thank you when occasion demands and expect them to be accepted gracefully. Otherwise you are no friend of mine! Well, I expect the same from you. But of course you are free to do as you like. ;)”

Another very dear blogger friend Sangeeta  added something equally profound.

I feel when we deny gratitude we start nurturing a guilt and that makes our personality seriously skewed…. as if always doing something to cover up something , to prove something or to repay( the reasons of gratitude) with useless gifts ….while gratitude in our attitude would have made it a lot simpler and peaceful for ourselves.”

I may not “unfriend” someone for not accepting gratitude and apology the way we believe it should be accepted but Yes, it would hurt me a lot. I detest when people say “no sorry no thank you between friends”. Even a dog doesn’t resist the urge to express gratitude , it wags its tail when petted.

Some people diagree and say it is inappropriate and inconsiderate to expect everyone to follow the same verbal code. I don’t think so.

Gratitude is a constructive force that expands our hearts and creates a bond between the receiver and the giver. It is the same with apology. We do all kind of things including going into an awkward silence but “sorry” seems to be the hardest word to say.

Why are we so afraid to expose ourselves to others?

Why is it so difficult to show appreciation and remorse in simplest form of words?

I feel a simple “Thank you” or” Sorry” when genuinely expressed can bridge distances, mend broken relationships , dissolve anger, heal broken hearts and much more. I feel being unable to express gratitude and remorse is a serious character flaw.

 Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, the bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and from deeds left undone”.

I think it is a very poignant statement. Often it is too late when we realize where we went wrong with our silence at a particular time. We leave much unsaid. It is strange that members of a species renowned for their communicative gifts should leave unexpressed some of these deepest emotions.

A friend feels that sometimes a person may feel unworthy of the gratitude expressed to him/her so he/she should be the judge of the amount of worthiness.  One may feel that one hasn’t done enough to deserve such praise.

I disagree.

I feel that the receiver is the judge of that. Even the smallest of gesture is enough for a person to say ‘Thank you” because it helped her/his growth in some way.  I don’t mean that these two words should be used blindly for they will lose their worth but when occasion demands one must express them with all sincerity.

We all crave for these basic feelings.  Unfortunately those who are closest to heart are taken for granted and always denied gratitude and empathy and more more unfortunate than that is the fact that genuine offering of gratitude , appreciation or remorse is usually not taken with the same spirit.

I feel that it isn’t a very nice thing to do to oneself or the person giving a sincere compliment whatever may be the reason.  Most people think they could have done better or been better than the reality of the situation. This is what I call negative reinforcement.

Why are we so hard on ourselves?

If I get my head bitten off every time I try to say something nice to someone, how likely am I to make that attempt again?   It surely is a big downer and in any relationship these are the small pebbles on which we stumble and fall.

Do we lack this art of graceful receiving because the social ethics makes us believe that giving is important and not taking? I believe that receiving is something different from taking for it involves humility and grace.

I feel that gratitude as well as feeling of sincere apology flows out of you naturally and if it is just a cultivated thing, it usually doesn’t last very long and becomes insignificant.  Gratitude need not necessarily find expression in the form of eloquence; it could be just a, gesture, a smile, look, a touch, a teardrop, but when we are at a physical distance then words are all we have to express what we feel. I have personally experienced how much it has helped me open up from within and blossom and also how it cuts like a double edged sword when the warmth of the feeling is not reciprocated or taken matter of factly.

We take people for granted, we feel ‘entitled” and this feeling of entitlement blocks us from giving or receiving and when we aren’t receptive to gratitude whether   it receiving or giving then we may be lacking many other positive emotions.

In recent times we have stripped these two words “Thank You “and “Sorry’ of sincerity and in doing this we have forgotten the major role they play in our lives. We use them flippantly, throw around without care, and often reduce them to an easy way of getting off the hook and evading meaningful action. How many of you remember doing it at one point or another?

Many people seriously lack in gracefully accepting gratitude and apology just as much as they lack in offering them.  I believe that graciously accepting them shows that we value the other person, that there is a positive emotional state and that we keep our relationship above our ego.

So the question is why is it that we can’t take a compliment, gratitude with grace?

One of the reasons is that the recipient of gratitude reverts to a negative rebuttal to whatever nice thing is said and feels that they didn’t deserve the recognition (“Oh, I didn’t really do that much…” ‘No problem’ Ah, Don’t mention it ‘“it was nothing’ etc.  While saying these things come naturally to many, they don’t realize that they are pushing away not only the gift of gratitude but a basic form of positive energy.

It is the same with apology. The act of offering and accepting an apology is as profound and healing as that of expressing gratitude but because the offhand “sorry about that” keeps flying around, our ego prevents us from realizing its full potential.

I think the word loses its impact when we refrain from acknowledging our wrong doing (“Sorry for what I have done”) or when we throw in a self-serving conditionality (“I am sorry if you were hurt”).

Well, if the purpose of an apology is only to say, “While I don’t think I was wrong, I will apologies because you say so”, it is best not to offer one. When you say “I am sorry BUT… “ then , the message of gratitude or apology is instantly annulled and it  perfectly translates  as “forget what I just said, now here’s what I really mean.”

The worst we can do is to insult someone’s sensitivity or intelligence by such a statement. If you are grateful, be grateful. If you are sorry, be sorry.

An apology must involve acknowledging the offense adequately, expressing genuine remorse and a commitment to make changes.

“A stiff apology is a second insult,” said novelist and poet G K Chesterton.

An apology is never a compensation for the hurt caused but a way of healing.  Quick fix “Sorry” never really fixes the broken heart. Apology should sensitize us for not committing that mistake again. It should help in restoring harmony and order in the relationship and in life.

It is sad that most of us lack this beautiful gesture of gracefully receiving and expressing gratitude and apology. The inability to soften and open one’s heart in response to a genuine sentiment is really a shame and one of driving force behind many sour relationships. An opportunity lost for strengthening and deepening the bond of love between one heart to another, for reconciliation and restoration of relationship.

Although I strongly believe in constantly reminding oneself to be graciously grateful and apologize instantly when occasion demands, I also feel that expressing gratitude and apology without necessarily being grateful or remorseful is an exercise in futility.

So next time you say “Sorry” or “Thank you” be aware from within. Ask yourself what is blocking you to these emotions? Is it the stubborn pride or the guilt? It is an act of courage to apologize.

Friendships or any other relationship becomes stronger and deeper when a little grace and humility is shown.

Great Relationships are precious gifts. Be grateful.