Why do we as women exhibit such a knee jerk reaction to apologize? What’s the harm in this and what can we do about it?
Ever since I’ve noticed it in myself and decreased my apologizing for anything and everything, I’ve noticed how other women apologize incessantly.
I used to apologize for crying in the company of a friend or for talking “too long” over lunch.
I’d apologize to the bagger at the grocery checkout for having too many groceries as if I was taking up his time and wasn’t as worthy of his time over the person behind me.
I’d apologize to the doctor for asking one more question as if he had more important patients to tend to.
I’d apologize to my husband for dinner being late because I was chauffeuring the kids around all afternoon.
We also apologize for the big things that we have no control over and are never our fault.
I’d apologize to my husband for making him angry by something I said that really was just spoken from my heart and not intended to hurt. Like I had any control over his reactions and feelings. Remember the only thing we have control over is ourselves and our reactions. Most of what we apologize for was never our fault but because the receiver reacts strongly or unfavorably, we blame ourselves.
Of course, there are many necessary and valid reasons to apologize, most especially when we have hurt or harmed another by our words, actions or inactions. We absolutely must apologize just as we must forgive. We are human and we make mistakes. Apologizing for our hurtful misdoings keeps our relationships clear and fluid and builds trust and intimacy.
Where we get into trouble is when we spew out the words, “I’m sorry” like a sneeze for anything and everything we think we’re doing or not doing, saying or not saying.
We apologize for taking up space and time.
We apologize for feeling, for emoting.
We apologize for being too big, too small, too loud, too quiet.
We apologize for others’ reactions when we express ourselves.
We apologize for pointing others out on their misbehaviors.
We apologize for having something to say or nothing at all.
We apologize for our looks, our shapes and sizes, our smells, our colors.
We apologize for our food preferences, our diets.
We apologize for our language, our accents, our beliefs, our values., our faith or lack of faith.
What I’ve come to learn is that saying “I’m sorry” when there’s nothing legit to be sorry about is a red flag for unworthiness.
And girl, do women suffer from this unworthy disease! We feel unworthy of taking up space, air and others’ resources. Patriarchal conditioning, childhood messaging, lifetimes perhaps of suppression have all contributed to our feeling unworthy as women.
Every time we apologize just for being ourselves…
We giveaway our power.
We lessen the impact of our truths.
We lose a sense of Self.
We weaken our spirits.
We give ourselves and others the message that we don’t matter.
Consider this the next time you catch yourself apologizing.
I want to shake every woman free of this need to apologize for being who she is, for taking up her rightful place on this planet, for feeling and pulsing with life energy that must be expressed, that needs to be set free.
I know what you’re thinking…it’s just a little “sorry.”
But what you’re really saying when you say “I’m sorry” for no real reason is…
I don’t have a right to be here.
I’m less than.
I’m not as valued.
I don’t matter.
Webster defines apology as, “the expression of regret.” Do we actually regret letting our tears flow in the safe space of another? Do we regret bearing our truths out loud? Do we regret getting our needs met, our questions answered, our words heard? I don’t know about you, but I almost always feel relief, release and connection when I allow myself to feel, to emote, and to speak from my heart. I rarely feel regret.
What if we could catch ourselves or a sister in a useless apology and say, not just, “no apology needed” but even, “YOU MATTER!”? Imagine how that could heal? We then take back our power. As Oprah has said repeatedly, “Underneath, we all just want to know that we matter, to be seen and heard.”
I desire for every woman to become more conscious of their apologizing and the effects it has on not just her individually but as a collective. It takes each of us individually to do our own work so we all eventually feel more worthy and valued across the globe. And please call me out the next time you catch me apologizing when no harm has been done. Tell me instead, “You matter.”
For we matter, we are worthy, we are enough just for being born!
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Karen Tasto helps women shift from stifled good girl to awakened goddess. She works as a certified professional life coach, Reiki master/teacher, & sacred circle facilitator. She also teaches workshops and leads retreats. Her spiritually-based life coaching helps women free their inner goddess selves so they can live boldly and brilliantly. She has been leading sacred circles for several years & her program, “Shifting from Good Girl to Awakened Goddess” begins April 24th in Columbia, MD. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-646-4385 for more info