Ep 393 – Apologies

Posted August 6th, 2017

What does it mean to say you are sorry? What does it take to accept someone else’s apology? Listen in as Tom poses these questions to the most important people in his life. This is the first in an upcoming series on Apologies, Grudges, and forgiveness.

A video version of this presentation, with the slides Tom showed to the live audience, is available here on our Patreon page:



  • Rick

    I liked the episode. I’m easy to please though. I’m a little curious as to which episodes you guys have put out that Tom thinks are “bigger duds” than this. Not that I think this is a dud, I just can’t think of any duds right now. Maybe I blocked them from my memory.

  • Melissa

    What do you do when an emotionally abusive person demands an apology from you for what they did, as a power play? I said I was sorry they felt that way, because I honestly didn’t think I’d done anything wrong. I didn’t think I could legitimately take responsibility. I’ve apologized many times to this person, who is good at convincing me that I’m in the wrong. Now, with therapy, I’m starting to realize that this behavior is called gas lighting and that the things I do and desire that have been labeled as wrong or hurtful, are actually normal and healthy. That’s not to say I always handle things well. I have a tendency to call people on their guff, partly out of spite and exhaustion, but partly to get people to think about their actions. However, this person will never shift their paradigm enough to realize that their ways cause systematic harm to others, let alone give a sincere apology or change their behavior. I need to change mine, to stop giving them chances to think, because that is only giving them more chances to hurt me.

  • Toni Bergbauer

    Yeah, I thought it was a good episode, I think there’s a lot in it to unpack. I’m a person who apologizes often for things, and, often, I get chastised for offering an apology (You don’t have to be sorry, don’t say you’re sorry so much, etc.)

    I sometimes haven’t understood why offering apologies holds so much weight for people. I do think there’s this component to apologizing that is quasi-superstitious/magical for many people. Kind of like Mormon blessings or something.

    I think it helps when giving/accepting apologies to ask “What’s at stake?” I know I’m surprised by a lot of everyday situations where people try to apologize-or by situations where they don’t apologize when they should. Really, there’s not that much at stake either way. I think it’s definitely a spectrum (The Mountain Meadows Massacre, Holocaust, etc vs somebody didn’t file their TPN report right, or whatever).

    I’ve come to think a few things about it (some were already touched on in the podcast). I think apologizing implies accountability/restitution. Sincere apologies need some proactive gesture or attempt to fix things or they probably can’t be seen as sincere. I think apologizing generally is a tricky component of power dynamics. People withhold forgiveness as a source of power a lot of the time, or people offer hollow apologies to evade responsibility.

    I do think there are people, too, who simply aren’t comfortable with the feeling of admitting when they’re wrong. It’s too intense a feeling, and they’ll run from it. In a lot of instances, though, this is usually because somebody has shamed them so badly in the past that they’ve learned that apologizing generally gives intense negative feelings.

  • Jose Galdamez

    This episode was in no way a dud. It got me thinking about the psychological aspect of apologies and how I can do better in that respect. Slapping all those public apologies at the end was truly a highlight. Damn right Vanilla Ice better apologize for ever thinking baggy pants were a good idea. My thanks to Tom for digging out this project. It felt fresh to me.