I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about apologizing. She laughed and said, “We women walk out of the womb saying, ‘I’m sorry.'” That is so true! Why is that? Is it just a female thing? How do we learn to apologize for everything under the sun?
After mulling this topic over for a few days, I’ve decided to stop apologizing.
Please note: This does NOT count for instances when I am truly in the wrong. I will apologize all day long to Tim, my boys, my family, my friends and everybody else if I mess up. Here is what I’m talking about:
1. I will not apologize for setting boundaries that safeguard my family and myself. This includes physical, emotional and social boundaries. This might mean declining certain invitations or leaving early from events. We may not sign up for every sport or academic club no matter how vital or popular the advertised skills may be. “That’s a great offer, but no thank you, ” will not be accompanied by, “I’m sorry but we can’t make it.”
2. I will not apologize for being a lady and playing “man roles” like coaching a boys baseball team. I’m not sorry when I plan out a practice drill that the players don’t quite get. We’ll get it right and try again next practice. I’ll teach those players to run the bases aggressively because when the pitchers are wild and the catchers can’t catch, we will get the W by stealing home eight times in a row. The dads aren’t apologizing for winning, so I won’t either. I also won’t apologize for teaching my players humility and compassion towards the other team. It’s fun to win but empathy is a skill they will value long after they realize making it to the major leagues is a pipe dream.
3. No more apologies will come from me when I decline to attend another event or meeting when my schedule is already full. And I won’t apologize when my “full schedule” doesn’t seem full to someone else. My brain and body need recharge time. That’s just who I am. The Crazy Lindsey comes out when I haven’t had a chance to get back to normal frequency levels. Believe me, nobody wants her here.
4. I won’t apologize for being quiet in a world that doesn’t see the strength in that. I also won’t apologize for my child’s slow to warm up demeanor either. Susan Cain is teaching me that 50% of the world is like us shy ones, we just live in a culture that only values the other loud half. We need both the quiet and loud, the sensitive and thick-skinned, the yin and yang. It’s the combo that is successfully complete.
5. Financial decisions we make as a family don’t need have apologies attached. Quite frankly, we don’t need to justify any decisions we make for the four of us. Our family is, for the most part, an open book. If there are explanations requested, we’ll oblige, but we aren’t sorry about well thought out conclusions. We love to verbally process and philosophize with our trusted small circle. They don’t need fake apologies from us and we don’t care if they make different resolutions for their own families. Differences aren’t threatening, they make this world more colorful and beautiful.
6. I won’t apologize for my wardrobe choices. First of all, everybody who knows me, understands that my husband has better fashion sense than I do. If left to my own devices, I will be in jeans and t-shirts or any sort of workout attire (with no gym in sight). I’m in my mid-thirties so the need for comfort has overpowered the need to impress others. Sorry, I’m not sorry about that.
7. When others come over to my house, I won’t apologize for the messiness. I love a clean house like anybody else, but some weeks the household chores don’t get crossed off the list. If you are in our house, you are family. We will feed you and house you because we WANT to and that’s what life is all about. Hospitality is much more than sparkly counter tops. Plus, if I apologize for the state of my house, that conveys the message to my guests about what I expect when I go over to their house. I don’t freaking care if you have dog hair on your couch and toys scattered everywhere, I sure hope you don’t mind if I do too.
8. I won’t apologize when, “I’m sorry” accidentally slips out. It’s a habit almost 34 years in the making; it is going to take a while to reshape the behavior that has become automatic. Whenever it does slip out, I want to be introspective. Did I really need to say that? Am I really sorry? Hopefully, then I can get to the root of the situation and the message I truly want to convey.
The problem with unnecessary apologizing is it loses it’s potency. The words lose strength and credibility when peppered into every day speech. Save the I’m sorrys for when they are real.
Honest remorse and regret are needed to heal and refuel all relationships. We all mess up and it does your people justice when you admit it. I’m not talking about the, “I’m sorry that you feel that way, or I’m sorry that you interpreted the situation that way.” Those are cheap and fake words. Don’t take the easy way out. You are pretending to apologize when really still placing blame on the other person. Take some ownership over your own actions and hurtful words.
I’m still working on this. I’m guilty of fake apologies. Now I’m trying to weed out the stuff that doesn’t need to be there. Both the fake words and the unnecessary ones take away from what’s real. When I tell someone, “I’m sorry,” I want it to be genuine and complete. Hopefully my true offerings will be met with grace.
Are you like me? What situations do you feel the need to offer up unnecessary apologies? Are real I’m sorry’s hard for you?