The Apomogy project has attracted around 500 apologies. Image via Rachel Burke/Apomogy. By Imogen Brennan.
“Sorry” – some people struggle to say it, while others say it too often.
Brisbane artist Rachel Burke is encouraging Australians to anonymously send their apologies attached to fluffy homemade pom poms.
Since launching “Apomogy” in September, Ms Burke has received about 500 apologies.
“I’m sorry we can only love each other from across the ocean,” one reads, while another says: “I’m sorry I can’t eat zinger burgers for every single meal.” (Post continues after gallery.)
One of Ms Burke’s favourites reads: “I’m sorry I made you scared of me” – from a child to her pet guinea pig.
Ms Burke said she was inspired to explore the psychology of apologising after making some challenging apologies herself last year.
She chose the medium of soft, woolly, colourful pom poms because she thinks it is a more gentle way of saying sorry.
“I’ve probably got like 30 apologies saying ‘I’m sorry I cheated on you’ which is quite sad,” Ms Burke said.
“And obviously attached to a pom pom, it’s kind of an interesting juxtaposition.”
One of the most persistent themes in the apologies received so far is love.
“I’m sorry your husband can’t see how amazing you are” and “I’m sorry I told you I loved you” are common apologies.
“I guess one of the heaviest ones I received was ‘I’m sorry Grandpa, for what they did to you’,” Ms Burke said.
“I found that a little bit upsetting.”
Ms Burke became emotionally invested in the project as people opened up to her.
“I do feel like a secret keeper. I guess it’s kind of a privilege to be handling people’s very private apologies,” she said.
Does apologising make you feel better?
Some people struggle to say sorry, and research indicates there may be an underlying reason for it.
A European study conducted in 2013 found that refusing to apologise actually gives you greater self-esteem.
“Apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity,” the report’s authors wrote.
The director of the Psychology Clinic at the University of Sydney, Dr Judy Hyde, said people who have “apomogised” are probably thoughtful and concerned about others.
“I think the real challenge is getting those more narcissistic people to take responsibility for things that they personally inflict on others that are damaging or distressing to others,” Dr Hyde said.
The Apomogy project comes at the same time as the release of a new Gmail plug-in called “Just Not Sorry”.
It was designed by software developer Tami Reiss to stop people, in particular women, from excessively using the “s” word in emails.
The plug-in works like a spell check, underlining self-demeaning phrases like “sorry”, “just”, “I think” and “I’m no expert”.
When the cursor hovers above the red lines, pop up boxes appear to give advice, such as: “Using sorry frequently undermines your gravitas and makes you appear unfit for leadership.”