There’s something we do when we’re overly focused on other people’s happiness, and that is to apologize. A lot. I’m not talking about owning up to something that you truly got or did wrong. I’m talking about a reflexive “I’m sorry” for anything that doesn’t go off without a hitch.
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Sorry, Not Sorry
I remember driving with one of my good friends when we were in our 20s. She accidentally brushed up against the curb as we were turning and she said “I’m sorry”–to the curb! Hahaha. I’m laughing because we’ve all apologized for something that’s not only not necessary, but also a little ridiculous, am I right?
We say “I’m sorry” when our kid can’t find their shoe, or when we are too tired to watch another episode on Netflix, or when we didn’t hear what someone said. Researching this episode, I found an article on Women’s Health where the writer kept a log of how many times she apologized–she got up to 12 in only three days.
While it’s helpful to be considerate of others’ feelings, saying you’re sorry is the same thing as taking ownership. And there are just so many things we’re taking responsibility for that aren’t ours to worry about. I mean, seriously, do you feel like you need more things on your plate?
Don’t Take Responsibility For Other’s Feelings
A lot of times when we apologize for something that’s not worthy of an apology, we’re taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings. And those are just not our responsibility. It keeps us on that old tired path of over-doing for others.
Daily Tiny Assignment
SO, for today, your tiny assignment is to NOT say sorry. (Unless you truly do something that merits an apology.) Probably, what’s going to happen is you’re going to reflexively say you’re sorry for something and then realize that you forgot. That is A-OK. You’ve heard me say it before, and you’ll hear me say it again, you can’t change a habit you don’t know you have. Awareness is always the first step. So even if you find yourself saying sorry 12 times today, just realizing that you’ve done it is going to help you shift out of that “let me take energetic responsibility for every little thing that goes wrong” mindset.
Here are some things you can say instead:
Well how about that!
I’m not sorry! Ha ha ha!
Or, just, nothing. Instead of saying, “Sorry, I’m too tired to watch another episode honey.” You could just start with “I’m too tired…” Or add, “maybe tomorrow.”
Here’s what not saying “I’m sorry” for every little thing will show you
Not saying “sorry” for everything little thing will help you see that you don’t need to try so hard to make sure that no one else gets their feelings hurt. It doesn’t mean you stop being compassionate. When a friend texts you that she just found out her cat has congestive heart failure, you can and should of course say “I’m sorry.” But if a friend texts you and asks if you want to have a Zoom cocktail hour and you can’t face another screen, you don’t have to apologize for the fact that you don’t have the energy. Just say, “I would love to, but today doesn’t work for me. How about tomorrow?” See? No need to apologize.