Thursday, October 4, 2018

Are you a chronic apologizer?

Recently, my daughter came home from a failed play date. She felt terrible for a mistake she made with a friend. Days later, she still couldn’t shake it, repeatedly apologizing to anyone who would listen.

As I sat with her and we rehashed the misunderstanding, I began to see her more clearly, with her remorseful tears and punishing words. Her conversation was familiar because it was a situation I frequently found myself in as a child. I apologized so often that I would apologize for apologizing.

When this article went viral a couple years ago, I was forced to face my real problem with chronically apologizing. When I’d bump into someone in the grocery store, I’d apologize. When I didn’t have time to help out at school, I’d apologize. When I'd monopolize a friend's time venting about some issue, I'd apologize. When my child was screaming, I'd apologize. But what was I really apologizing for? My kids being kids? My lifestyle? My existence?

Quickly muttering the words “I’m sorry” doesn’t always convey the empathy you're after anyway, but it does leave you feeling terrible about yourself. I suppose that’s the point, right? Sometimes situations warrant that kind of remorse, and sometimes they don’t. But repeatedly using those two words lowers your energy and keeps you stuck in a cycle of anxiety and guilt.

And sure, my daughter may have made a mistake. I made (and still make) plenty of them too. But don’t use “I’m sorry” when a “thank you for your patience/time/help/hospitality” is appropriate. Not only does it speak to how grateful you truly feel, but it's the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

If you're in a reading mood, here are my other favorite self-care practices. I would add this bath soak, or this one, this candle, and this (a splurge, but long-lasting) to a "not free, but luxurious" list of self-care products.

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