Saying Sorry I’m not Perfect Deflects from the Point

I never said I was perfect
Lets have a nice cup of coffee and forget all about “it”.

What do people mean when they declare in an exasperated voice “Well sorry! I’m not perfect”

There are different versions of this statement said in different ways, with different voice inflictions so for the purpose of “fog busting”, here are a few of them:

“I’m not perfect” This is stated as though “perfection” is what I am asking for and implying that the problem is not their actions but in fact my expectations.

“Well sorry I’m not perfect”; Stated as a plea to make me sorry that I made this person feel bad. Once again this is turned around on ME indicating that I have done or said the wrong thing and that the problem is actually NOT theirs, but mine.

“I never said I was perfect” Stated a little heavy on the sarcasm indicating that once again I have asked too much and indicating that my expectations are unreasonable as though I am the one who is causing the problem and as though there wouldn’t BE a problem if it were not for me.

“Sorry I am not as perfect as YOU”. This statement also casts the focus back onto ME as the problem person in the relationship for the purpose of getting me to back off on my “overly high expectations”

Each of these statements deflects from the problem that came up in the first place. Usually in my own life, this statement was used against me when I was upset about something and the other person didn’t want to take responsibility for what I was upset about. Instead of engaging in a discussion about the actual problem, they made it look like I was being unreasonable and deflected the focus off of them by bringing a new subject into the conversation.  In this case, it is the new subject (communicated by the phrase “I’m not perfect”) is about my “expectations” which are too high.

As a child I learned through a series of grooming processes, spoken and unspoken messages that if I wanted to be safe I needed to find a way to change me. I survived by trying to figure out how not to upset the adults in my life. That became my habit; to search my mind for ways that I could either change or be more compliant, always trying to anticipate what someone else wanted or expected from me.  This was survivor mode.  Putting all my thoughts and actions through that survivor mode grid for so long made it very easy for everyone to get me to put the focus back on me instead of on any fault they might have had.  Statements like “I never said I was perfect” deflect focus OFF the person who actually caused the problem, without looking at the original problem.

For instance if I reacted to being put down in front of other people, my “complaint” would be side tracked by statements like this one I am highlighting today “Well sorry, I’m not perfect.

Here is an example; I always got a lot of compliments on my hair. Even in my twenties I had this long thick naturally curly beautiful hair and I got a ton of compliments on it. But if the compliments were in front of my mother, she would make sure that everyone knew that I coloured it even though the compliments were not usually about the colour of my hair but just about my hair in general.  She would say something like “well it comes from a bottle”. If I complained about her comments for example saying; “mom why do you have to make a point of telling people that?” she would say “well sorry I’m not perfect” which really has nothing to do with WHY she felt the need to make sure everyone knew that I dyed my hair. Her statement worked however, as I never pursued the answer to my original question, which was “why do you have to tell people that I dye my hair?”

When this kind of manipulation is used to deflect the focus off the person who is responsible for causing the undesired reaction (including reactions such as crying or anger reactions) starting from a young enough age, it is very easy for these statements to have the desired “back off” effect immediately and without question on the part of the person they are directed at.

Today when something like this happens, I respond in a very different way; instead of jumping to my old default mode which was acceptance that my “expectations are too high” I simply respond with a counter statement such as this one; “what does making sure that everyone knows my hair colour comes from a bottle have to do with whether or not you are perfect? Often this kind of statement will be met with that “fish out of water look”; don’t expect to get an answer to those kinds of questions but it sure stops the bully from excusing her behaviour by placing the focus back on ME.

Please share your thoughts about how this statement has effected your life or how statements like this one can deflect from the real issue.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing



43 response to "Saying Sorry I’m not Perfect Deflects from the Point"

  1. By: richard Posted: 25th March

    Great post, came across not one, but two co-workers who used the “I am not perfect” on me. Really burns me that not only do they not want to take responsibility for their actions but to try to turn it on me makes me even more irate.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th March

      Hi Richard,
      Welcome to EFB
      Yes, that saying is very dismissive to the person it is aimed at!
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: DisturbedAngel Posted: 29th November

    O…M…G! Honestly, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this from my N family, I’d be a freaking millionaire by now. It’s always so invalidating and frustrating to be told, “Well sorry. I’m not perfect you know!” as if I at any point stated that I EXPECTED such a thing or as if that excuses their behavior in any way. GAAAHHH!!!!

    Thanks so much for yet another amazing post. It’s kind of creepy in a way though, the way you’re able to so accurately put down in words what I think and feel inside. LOL 😉


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th November

      Hi DisturbedAngel
      Welcome to EFB ~ I am gald you like and can relate to what I am doing here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th August

    Hi Diane
    Great example of how that whole dysfunctional communication works to achieve what they want to achieve..

    Exactly ~ I was always reminded of my sullenness and sulking. I can relate to feeling “pursued”
    Thanks for sharing,

    Hi Rise
    Thank you for your comments and your compliments/encouragement.

    Hi Linda
    It was really empowering for me to look at things with their motive in mind because I had always looked at me for so long. It doesn’t help to understand the “why” about them, but understanding the how these kinds of statements worked in terms of how they made me feel and how wrong they were, really helped!

    Hi Kate,
    You have added some great points to this also. Thank you!
    Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Kate Posted: 27th August

    how many times have you not had your question answered? How many ways are there to control someone by not answering the question?

  5. By: Kate Posted: 27th August

    Abuser’s goal, maintain confusion by intentionally not answering your question.

  6. By: Kate Posted: 26th August

    The child’s idea of perfect would be a mother/father who loves him/her. The parent’s claim to non-perfection is like t elling the child I am not really your parent, or I am not the parent you want, or we will not have the relationship that you naturally and rightfully desire.

  7. By: Kate Posted: 26th August

    The child, the person, doesn’t know what “perfect” is anyway. The child, the person, knows her/his pain.

  8. By: Kate Posted: 26th August

    Such repeated statement also tell the child, the person, not to expect anything to ever change in the relational dynamic. “YOU felt hurt? YOU will feel more hurt!”

  9. By: Kate Posted: 26th August

    Such statements used repeatedly tell the child, the person, “I will only think about myself.”

  10. By: Linda Pittman Posted: 26th August

    Such a small subject to start with but such a powerful message Darlene. I never looked at the motivation behind such statements, just the feeling I had when they were made. Thank you for this truth.

  11. By: Leah Posted: 26th August

    I feel like this goes hand in hand with the “well I never had a parenting manual” statement as well. Almost as though it is OK to be cruel if you have some sort of excuse. Forget taking away the validity of your child’s (grown or not) feelings. I can treat you the way that I want because I am not perfect and no one told me how to be a parent. Very frustrating. I too learned at a very young age to survive by taking stock of the conditions when I walked in a room. Was it dark, was she smoking, sitting alone, in her p.j’s…..these things would tell me how light I should tread in the water. I am still struggling now as an adult to set boundaries and decide how to deal with a mother I never felt cared much for me as a child. I guess to put it bluntly she didn’t like me at all. Wether she was calling me a bitch to other family members, family friends, or even to my face or simply telling me from the moment I set foot in a room, “ugh go to your room I can’t stand to see your face right now”, I still wanted to please her and to have her approval. After a session of taking her anger out on me by physical abuse I would muster up the courage to come apologize to her….

    I have struggled with these things all my life. I finally came upon this website and found these blogs and I can’t tell you how much they have helped me in the short time since discovery. Thank you for creating this site and thank you for sharing your stories. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th August

      Hi Leah,
      Yes it does go hand in hand with the old “I never had a parenting manual” statement. Your comments are VERY good. I learned to survive the same way too.
      Welcome to EFB and I am so glad that you are here. You are not alone and we have a wonderful supportive community here!
      Hugs, Darlene

      p.s. everyone ~
      I have the flu today and I am not going to be able to respond to ALL the comments like I usually do!
      I have been reading them and they are excellent! I might respond to a few when I feel a bit better…
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Barbara Posted: 26th August

    My NMother had a big excuse for my sibling being THE GOLDEN CHILD… “I made a lot of mistakes with you; I didn’t make them the second time.”

    Of course this never accounted for her NEVER correcting or working on the mistakes with me. I was just supposed to forgive all & bear all.

  13. By: Martha Posted: 26th August


    I can understand and relate to what you are saying. I don’t want family members around me who placated an abuser at my expense either.

    A long time ago when I was still in elementary school, my mother said, ‘You’re trying to manipulate me’, during a conversation. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time.I really had blocked out alot of things that were said to me growing up.

    I told myself for years that I WAS the problem, because there was no one to validate the truth, and I didn’t trust my own feelings. The truth was my mother was extremely angry- at my dad specifically, and made herself the ‘victim’ of everyone around her by accusing us of having negative motives for the majority of everything we said to her.Also if she perceived we ‘crossed’ her, she was cutting, cold and guilt inducing.

    My sister, for whatever reasons, and I assume they were to stay out of the line of fire, kind of pushed me to the forefront of every interaction we had with my mother, so that if mother got angry, she would get mad at me, not her.

    My mother was cold emotionally to her own mother until her mother died.My grandmother said several times to me, ‘Your mother is…strange…She’s always been that way’. So I’m guessing my mother’s arrogant and hypersensitive behavior went back many many years.

    My mother once said to us kids in the car, ‘Grass doesn’t grow where I spit.’ I think we were in middle school at the time. I didn’t even understand the meaning of it until years later.I think it means if she gets angry with you, its forever, like a grudge.

    Its odd that my mother’s cruel behavior kind of went over our heads for years. I know that was a defense mechanism. Its also odd that my good memories of my mother are so strong. I don’t really understand it, except maybe she was a multiple personality, or it has something to do with the way I processed my memories. My mother’s way of expressing affection verbally was usually coupled with an insult. She was a teacher and she and her best friend, also a teacher, used to call me ‘lumberhead’. Kimd of hard to see yourself as an intelligent, worthy human when your mom and her friend call you a name like that.

    The prevailing theme, though, in my mother’s reportoire of responses, was ‘ I guess I just do anything right’, or ‘I guess I’m just the stupidest person on earth.’, when you disagreed with her, even mildly.

    Once I had made plans to go shopping with her, and when she arrived, I was in the middle of a fight with my boyfriend. I told her I didn’t feel like going shopping then. She said, ‘Well, I guess I’m just the best old bitch in town!’. Then she told my boyfriend: ‘Thanks to you, she’ll probably jump off the midtown bridge now!.’ I literally took off running away from both of them. Crazy stuff.

  14. By: Risé Posted: 25th August

    Darlene ~ OH MY GOSH!!! Did this ever drudge up some old memories … and, I will admit, some anger! My mother did this to me ALL THE TIME! This was her way of ‘apologizing’?? She’d say things like, “We can’t all be perfect like YOU!” And of course it is deflected onto me to be her standard of ‘perfect,’ which by the way was totally unattainable!!

    I am so glad I have chosen to never allow this woman back into my life, or my head for that matter. I am finally free of her manipulations and degradations, humiliations and all around hatefulness!

    You know, its been over a year now since I’ve heard from my father and siblings since coming out with the full detail of my mother’s abuse to them … and I recently sent my father another letter. I did not share feelings, but facts only. I shared I was in therapy and that there was no way I would ever entertain the idea of a relationship with my mother. I told him, in so many words, that I don’t care to have relationships with family members who choose not to stick up for me and who choose to ‘keep the peace’ at a horrendous price of not talking about the abuse and placating my mother. I also told him that I changed my name and explained why. It didn’t even come to a full page with a size 12 font. And then I mailed it.

    I finally don’t care at all if I ever hear from them again – they didn’t act like family to me when I was around them, I just felt like the black sheep, and not only did I feel excluded, I was excluded from many things. My mother’s wishes always took precedence, which amazes me for so many reasons.

    I am so much more happier than I have ever been … I am so thankful, Darlene, (and I have you to thank as you had a part in my healing process). Never again will I allow anyone to bully me into silence! I HAVE A VOICE!

  15. By: Martha Posted: 25th August

    In thinking back to earlier years, I remember many scenarios when my mom would take offense- personal offense- at very many things I said or did, that had nothing to do with her. I wasn’t making sideways comments, just being a kid. She would say things like, ‘Well, I guess I never do anything right!’. Or, ‘Well, Queenie’s having one of her snits.’ (Referring to me).’Just let her sit in the car and sulk!’.

    I had forgotten so many individual incidents over the years.There were so many and it was a pattern of interaction between us. It was very shaming, I now know; and very damaging to me; and at the time it frustrated me, angered me, and hurt my feelings. I also didn’t understand it. What se was doing was trying to provoke a fight with me with the other kids as witnesses.

    I remember not ever wanting to express any feelings because it so often ‘offended’ her.I didn’t realize then that it was abusive. I just felt trapped and miserable.I didn’t know how to even talk to her about it. It all stemmed from her own unhappiness, rarely from something I actually did, I know now. I wasn’t a smart mouth kid, but I grew very defensive after years of this. My sister will tell you today that I was always arguing with mom, but I felt pursued by her. I didn’t want to argue. Finally my own anger was my only defense.

  16. By: Diane Posted: 25th August

    My ex-spath ALWAYS made that comment,especially to our sons. The spath usually went through 5 jobs in one year.My younger son asked him why he keeps going from job to job.The spath said it was because he wasn’t selling cars so he wasn’t making any money.My son asked him why not stay and at least try to make a go of it.The spath replied…”I’m sorry I’m not perfect.Tell me how to get customers to want to buy a car and I’ll do it.What more do you want from me? I’m doing the best I know how to do.”Then the spath would sigh and put his head down,as if he was so incredibly hurt. My poor son didn’t know what to say.Not because he felt sorry for the spath but because the spath played the victim so well. Ugh….so glad he is out of our lives!

  17. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 25th August

    Another bullseye Darlene. It was always about how my not liking what others were doing to me made them the victim of me.


  18. By: Kate Posted: 25th August

    My dad would groan, “I wasn’t doing my homework…” “I wasn’t paying attention…”

    Fi, Yes! “It is all about me…wa wa wa, I need attention right now.” ASS Attention Seeking Syndrome

    Yes! The words don’t mean what the words say, but what the user creates with the context.

    Love this! “Oh, so you don’t have to be perfect, but I do? “

  19. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 25th August

    It’s such a dismissive statement that leaves you no place to go except to feel sorry for them and to let them off the hook, it kind of makes you blame yourself for feeling bad about them. It tends to take you to a place that isn’t nice or helpful. It’s a big cop out of taking personal responsibility which invalidates your own feelings and reactions. And yes, it is highly manipulative.

  20. By: louise Posted: 25th August

    There’s a lot of statements like this, and I’ve noticed the deflection too, to not answer a question but to repoint blame or refocus fault. They seem to get me everytime.

  21. By: Kia Posted: 25th August

    “Sorry, I’m not perfect”. What a trigger point for me! Oh, so you don’t have to be perfect, but I do? Geez, thanks!! That was a thought that always went through my head when I heard that comment. Well, I am not perfect and can’t be. Yet, me and 2 of my sisters say that to each other all the time. Somehow we don’t know how to not step on each others pain. We are all hurting and on a lot of simular issues, but definitely not all the same things at the same time. Got a lot of thinking to do.

  22. By: shanyn Posted: 25th August

    Great post Darlene, and it got me thinking. About how different the same phrase can be used, and yet it is still a tool of control and manipulation, a way to show that (somehow) we are meant to be less.

    “Well I’m not perfect!” is heard from a family member who wants everyone to know that she considers herself the only one who ‘tries’ and is ‘never supported’. It is her passive aggressive strike back against us when someone dares to point out or question something.

    “I never said I was perfect!” used to be heard in response to any question or to stop any discussion that was getting to close to her. She didn’t want anyone ‘getting in her head’ so she would point out how flawed you must be for expecting something impossible from her, and it would be with high drama and much flare. sigh.

    When I was young it was a cry for help, “I’m not perfect” in the face of blame without reason or rhyme. I wanted to hear, “It is okay, no on is perfect, it is important to try.” but instead I got, “You are so not perfect and here let me list all the ways you suck…” and then the shortcomings, flaws and grocery list of ‘things to change’ would be pulled out.

    It never fails – that phrase can cause so much harm and bring so much hurt when it is wielded like a hammer or even like a shank.

    Really great post, and there is so much for us to learn by examining the words and phrases that we hear and our reactions to them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th August

      GREAT additions to this post! Excellent points! Thank you for adding your own highlights!
      Hugs, Darlene

  23. By: Sandy Posted: 25th August

    I’m sorry only has meaning when it is backed up by action. Otherwise, they are just a string of words. Your mother sounds like she found any elevation of you threatening and immediately wanted to push your ego back down. That is very narcassistic. Instead of finding pride that a child belonging to her could display beauty, her inner child craved those positive strokes for herself.
    Regardless of what color your hair is or if it is long or short, it wasn’t the hair people noticed. It was the lovely woman wearing that hair that made them compliment you. 🙂

  24. By: Anne Posted: 25th August

    Ugh my dad would always say “I never claimed to be perfect…” and go on about how he’s so great and everyone else is so stupid. Someone saying that to me is EXTREMELY triggering.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th August

      Hi Anne
      Thanks for sharing…
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Sandy,
      I believe that my mothers entire parenting style was based on what I could do for her. I am sure she thought that I would fill a void in her and when I couldn’t do it, she was very disapointed in me. I have written a lot about that in this site. I have done a lot of work on reclaiming my identity and letting go of her expectations and her definition of me. I had to re-parent myself and today I feel sorry for my mother. She is a very unhappy and lonely woman. But I am very happy for me! I am alive, whole, happy, free and have my identity again!
      Thanks for your lovely compliment! Hugs, Darlene

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