I want to share a quick hot take this week…it’s all about that dreaded sentence that many of us say ALL THE TIME…”I’m sorry”. Learning how to stop apologizing at the wrong time can help you lead a happier, more confident life.
So I should never apologize?
Listen, I’m not telling you to stop apologizing when you mess up or act like a jerk, because do…please do. That is a real skill that many people are missing and if you’re aware enough to know when you’ve made a mistake, please be kind and brave enough to apologize.
What I am talking about is the dreaded apology for…existing. For slightly inconveniencing someone, for not meeting expectations you didn’t agree to.
Apologies for Being.
Someone shows up at your house unannounced “I’m sorry the house is such a mess!”
You’re running 2 minutes late because meetings were scheduled back-to-back and you had to walk from what conference room to another, “I’m so sorry I’m late! I I feel terrible.”
Someone makes a comment about something they don’t like (not about you, by it could be) – “I hate it when people wear blue skirts to work”: (self-consciously looks down at your blue skirt under your desk) “Oh! I’m sorry” *sad face*
You have to bail on a commitment because you are SICK (this happened to me recently BTW): “I’m so sorry, I feel like an awful friend!”
When someone bumps into you, cuts you in line, inconveniences YOU, talks over you…any of this: “Oh! I’m so sorry!”
No. Stop doing this.
Stop Apologizing For Taking Up Space.
I used to work with the SWEETEST girl. She was smart, funny, a hard worker, but she said “I’m sorry!” so much that it became a joke…it was literally the thing she said most often and she was typically NOT saying it because she hurt someone or messed up. She was, in essence, apologizing for existing. For taking up space. For being “too much”, just by being her.
Ouch 🙁 Let’s stop doing this. And, let’s be better and lovingly call other women out when they’re doing this. We don’t need to apologize for existing…there is a better way.
How to Stop Apologizing – a better way.
I want to invite you to reframe your I’m sorry’s into thank you’s whenever possible.
Again, if you mess up or hurt someone, please apologize. But start to discern and listen to where ELSE you’re apologizing. Is any of it actually an apology just for being? For sitting there, for taking up space? For having needs and being human?
Let’s stop that, like asap.
I want to invite you to experiment with this idea, try it on for size, and see how it feels for a few days. Here are some examples of reframes from the “I’m sorry’s” above:
Instead of apologizing, try this instead:
Someone shows up at your house unannounced: “I’m so happy to see you (if that’s true). Thank you for visiting me!”
Guess what…you don’t even have to mention the house. If someone is visiting you without a heads up, there is NO expectation that your house is perfect or even remotely tidy. Even if someone visits with an invitation, your house never ever has to be anything other than…the place where you live and enjoy life. You don’t have to perform, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be human.
You’re running 2 minutes late because meetings were scheduled back-to-back and you had to walk from what conference room to another: “Thank you so much for your patience, I just wrapped up another meeting on the hour.”
You have to bail on a commitment because you’re sick: “Thank you for your grace and understanding. I really appreciate you.”
Bless my beautiful friend for challenging me on my own apology recently and reminding me that I didn’t need to apologize for taking care of myself. Love her big time.
When someone bumps into you, cuts you in line, inconveniences YOU, talkies over you…any of this: “Excuse me” Then insert, as appropriate – “The line starts there”, “that doesn’t feel right because XYZ”, “I’m not finished talking yet” or “I’d appreciate finishing my thought before we move on”.
...hopefully you get the gist here! You can still be respectful and polite, but it’s OKAY to stand your ground and be heard or take up your space in the world. It’s more than ok, in fact – it’s wonderful!