We are trying something new in our house: not apologizing. The “I’m sorry’s” have gotten out of control. We apologize for everything from forgetting to buy the toothpaste to taking a section of the newspaper on Sunday morning. Rarely have we done something wrong or hurtful. We’re simply doing our best and being ourselves. When did that become an offense? Once Ty pointed out that I constantly apologize, I started noticing that most women I encounter do, too. I was on an airplane this weekend and the stranger next to me apologized for getting up to go to the bathroom! Apologies have become so commonplace that I wonder if we even know the damage they are causing. When we apologize for our choices, actions, and our every word and deed, we are apologizing for ourselves. It’s enough to contend with the negative talk in your head, but apologizing for no good reason is a public rejection of self.
Apologies have also become so reflexive, they’re losing meaning—and making it harder for us to offer a true apology when one is actually warranted. How many people do you know who become defensive when they hurt or offend you? Suddenly all bets are off and we’re too cool to accept that we may have work to do. We simultaneously crave acceptance and fear rejection and the result are superficial relationships with not only each other but with ourselves. In order to connect on a more meaningful level we need to stand in our truth and accept our fate, even when it means admitting imperfection. Yesterday I learned a trick from a friend to combat the knee-jerk apology: Instead of saying I’m sorry, say Thank You . . . for being patient, for being kind, for being accepting, for being a good friend/partner/kiddo, for loving me just the way I am.