As the topics swirl in my head every week, this topic keeps coming back to me and I think it deserves our attention. Have you ever noticed how often women apologize? Very often. “I’m so sorry, I was busy. I’m so sorry, I was distracted. I’m so sorry, I already have plans. I’m so sorry, I don’t have room in my car. I’m so sorry, I don’t think this dinner will taste very good. I’m so sorry, I didn’t have time to bake for you. I’m so sorry, I didn’t do my make up. I’m a mess. I’m so sorry, I didn’t dress up. I’m so sorry, I forgot to respond to you.” The list goes on and on of things women apologize for. It even goes as far as women apologizing for things that they have no control of. For example, “I’m so sorry that it’s raining.” I am stereotyping saying women, but how often do you hear a man apologize? Not as often in my experience.
I want to throw something out to all of us – “Please stop apologizing.” I want you to know that it’s ok. It’s ok that I was late to cheerleading. I was watching my daughter’s voice recital. It’s ok that I missed Max’s soccer game. I was driving my girls around. It’s ok that I didn’t wear make up today. I didn’t feel like it. It’s ok that I want to wear leggings and a sweatshirt today. We can be comfortable. It’s ok that you didn’t text me back until many hours later. You were working. It is ok!
Save your apologies for the things that really matter. We don’t need to go through our days apologizing and feeling bad about these standards that we think that we need to live up to. I don’t feel badly that I’m writing right now. I’m ignoring the dishes in the sink, the emails coming through, and the text that was just sent. I’m ignoring it all. I don’t feel badly and I’m not apologizing. We can’t go through our days multi-tasking all day long. Nothing will ever get accomplished and we will feel scattered and all over the place. Focus on one thing at a time. The text can wait. The email can wait. The dishes can wait.
I want you to own it and I want you to please stop apologizing. I’m saying this because I hear women do this all day long. I am guilty too.
Instead of Own It
I’m so sorry, I’m a mess. You look good no matter what you wear.
I’m so sorry, my house is a mess. Welcome to my home. People live here.
I’m so sorry, that I was late. It happens. Thank them for waiting.
I’m sorry, I’m busy that day. I have plans that day. Let’s pick a different day.
Why do I suggest that you stop apologizing so much?
First, it doesn’t make you sound very confident. I want you to be empowered. I want you to own your greatness. Apologizing often does not make you sound confident or successful.
Over-apologizing just becomes a bad habit that we need to break. Start by becoming aware of how often you apologize throughout the day. Awareness is always the first step. Start to stop yourself and replace it with something more confident.
Let’s replace apologies and be direct. Let us praise our children for being direct. I’m going to give you an example. Seth took Max to soccer tryouts tonight. It was cold and rainy, and the tryouts were cut short. Seth and Max left quickly with everyone else without Max’s soccer ball. Max wasn’t direct. He didn’t tell Seth that he wanted to stay and look for his ball. A lot of us tend to say things very passively. Let us learn to be direct with what we want. Seth says to me often, “If you tell me exactly what you want, I am happy to give it to you.”
What can we do:
- Be direct. Praise your children for being direct.
- Be aware. Start noticing when you are apologizing. Stop and replace it.
- Model for your children how to communicate without apologizing often in your day.
- Save apologies for things that really matter.
- Be confident. Be assertive. Be empowered. Apologizing often is none of those things.
- Learn better word choices.
- Be empathic and show sympathy without apologizing.
I am very guilty of all of this. I am not innocent. I do think that you do not sound confident and successful when you are apologizing often throughout your day. I think that if we want our kids to be successful, we need to teach them how to be direct and assertive. I always tell people that we can be kind and we can also be assertive at the same time. We can also be more successful if we learn to communicate in a more empowered manner.
I’m not telling you that I never want to see you apologize. Sometimes it is very important. If you yell at your child and feel badly, I definitely recommend apologizing. We need to teach our children when it’s appropriate to apologize. I want us all to apologize when necessary. I don’t want us all to apologize all day.
Before I let you go, let’s discuss women putting themselves down. You get complimented on your outfit and you say it’s old. You get complimented on your work report and you say that it was easy. Can we please own our greatness? You did an awesome report. Say thank you. You are wearing a cute outfit. Say thank you. Let’s be confident and assertive and stop apologizing and say thank you for compliments.
These are just a couple things that I have noticed lately. I write about what I notice around me and within me. This is something that I will work on with you. Let us all start today. I’m going to go put my feet up and watch a movie. I don’t feel any need to apologize about that. When my husband walks in the room and tells me he likes my dress, I will just say thank you.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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