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Not Sorry
October 31, 2017

On Apologizing

I’m trying to apologize less.

See, I already want to say “sorry” for even saying, out loud and to the interwebs, that I want to apologize less. “I’m sorry if that sounds brash.”

But the thing is, I’ve been an over-apologizer my whole life.

“I can’t make it, I’m sorry.” (after I’ve ignored the text invite for a good few days)

“I’m so sorry that didn’t work out.”

“I’m so sorry I can’t do that.” (followed by giving an unnecessary amount of detail as to why)

“Thank you for taking Liam home, I’m sorry if that was an inconvenience.”

“I”m sorry, buddy, but you can’t watch that show.”

“I’m sorry dinner is cold.” (after I called everyone to table for the past 10 minutes, when it was hot)

“I’m sorry I’m so complicated.”

“I’m sorry I’m so emotional.”

___

The other day, I apologized to my husband for something. Only it wasn’t really anything I had done wrong. And about twenty seconds after the familiar words escaped my mouth, like a kid from their bedroom at naptime, I blurted out, “Actually, I’m not sorry.” Or was it, “I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry?”  And then I explained . . . “I’m not sorry that I am a deep feeler and sometimes overly emotional. Thank you for understanding and listening as I talk through what I’m feeling.”

It seems that for most of my life I have been apologizing for things that don’t require an apology. The words I should be using more often are “Thank you.”

“Our schedule is so jammed packed with sports and extracurriculars at the moment. Thanks for understanding that we will have to reschedule.”

” Thank you for you for waiting. It was a really crazy morning: my child had a meltdown, the dog puked, we got stuck in traffic.”

“That show is for older kids, Rocco, let’s find something else that might better.”

The thing is, I want my “I’m sorry’s” to hold weight. And because I use the words so flippantly, I find I sometimes clutch onto those very words when they really need to be given out. I don’t want there to be any kind of “I’m sorry” confusion in our household.

With much introspection, I’ve concluded that over-apologizing has much to do with my nature. My wanting to please everyone, not upset anyone, and to try to make sure everyone is happy with me.

ouch.

I’ve had to own up to the idea that perhaps, saying “I’m sorry” all of the time might be somewhat synonymous with:

“I’m sorry for being me.”

“I’m sorry for having an opinion.”

“I’m sorry I have my own obligations/life.”

“I’m sorry for taking up space.”

“I’m sorry you are not happy with me.”

“I’m sorry for feeling this way.”

Maybe you are apologizing for these very reasons too?

Self-revelation is, sometimes, painful, but it is always freeing. When I become aware, I have been given the power to change.

___

My friend Erin was an over-apologizer, too. She wrote about this some time ago and it really was an ah-hah moment for me. I was already aware of my over-apologizing ways, of course, but she really 0ffered tools for making a change, like this:

I’m sorry is an apology for your shortcomings.
Thank you is an acknowledgment of others’ virtues.

___

I’ve been practicing–changing slowly. Of course, I fall into old habits that are 39 years strong and find myself saying those familiar words when I needn’t. But, I am aware and I am saying “thank you,” more often than ever.

What about you? Do you find yourself saying “I’m sorry” when maybe all that is needed is, “Thank you?”