apology from woman with rose

APOLOGY UNACCEPTABLE

Ila Gartin

Hey. Welcome back. We felt we owed you an apology. Sorry for being away so long. Sorry for leaving you hanging during a pandemic and social unrest when you most likely needed tools for coping more than ever. We’ve been dealing with our own personal stuff and we are so sorry we haven’t been here for you.

While all of that is true, during our own time of self-discovery and exploration we have come to realize that apology is overrated and frankly, quite selfish. Read that first paragraph again. Notice how an apology makes all of the things about us; about our own difficulties; about our own excuses. It’s not about us. (And it’s not about you when the roles are reversed.)

Do you find yourself over-apologizing? Maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Have you even noticed?

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m in your way,” when someone passes you in a crowded hallway. “I’m sorry I’m so late,” when traffic was unpredictable and you did your best to be there on time. “I’m sorry I flew off the handle (for the millionth time) and reacted that way,” when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear. “I am so sorry for crying on your shoulder all the time and being a mess with my emotions,” when you tell your best friend everything you’re working through in 2020. “I’m sorry I haven’t been here for you,” when you haven’t posted on your blog in months.

You do NOT have to apologize for being you, for being in your process, for traveling your own journey, for something that isn’t your fault…and neither do we. We, as humans (and especially as women), are taught to apologize frequently, often for things that are not our fault or have no fault to blame. You do not have to apologize for not meeting someone else’s expectations. 

When we apologize, we accept and internalize full responsibility for a situation. But during circumstances when there is no fault or the situation is NOT your fault, you should NOT be apologizing. So…what do we do? Say nothing? Ignore the situation altogether? 

Apology and ignorance both negatively impact any other people involved in the situation. Apology only makes the entire focus on yourself and your excuses. It SEEMS empathetic when it automatically comes out, but it places the spotlight directly on you. Ignoring the other people in the situation only leaves them to believe you don’t care about them and comes off as rude. To avoid these both, we suggest turning to gratitude

Instead of constantly apologizing for anything and everything, try thanking someone for their sacrifice, commitment, or comfort they’ve provided you. By sincerely expressing your gratitude, you don’t subconsciously gather your guilt and use it against yourself later when you think of all the things you could have done better today. You give the other person credit and recognition for their kindness, which has the potential to brighten their day.

For example:

“I’m sorry I’m in your way.” What? Are you apologizing for your mere existence?? That person is not the ruler of the hallway and you’ve done nothing wrong by sharing the same space (while wearing a mask). Instead, try saying a simple “Thank you.” Or, “Thanks so much for waiting while I pass.” You aren’t taking responsibility for anything that isn’t there and you’re not focusing on yourself, which leaves the other person to feel good about doing something kind for a stranger.

Instead of “I’m so sorry I’m late,” and launching into all the excuses (as well as focusing only on yourself), try something like “Thank you so much for waiting!” This recognizes the other person’s patience and steadfastness. By mentioning this positive quality in the other person, you help them become aware of the good qualities in themselves. 

“I’m sorry I overreacted to your news.” Ugh, this is a tough one, right? It’s always embarrassing. Emotional dysregulation (or constantly overreacting) is common and it’s embarrassing to have to apologize for it time and again. Instead, you could thank them. How about, “Thank you for standing by me and supporting me, even as I’m working to regulate my emotions. It’s a process and I’m aware of it, becoming more mindful of it, and working to change it.” This shows you ARE taking responsibility for your part in the situation while recognizing the other person’s sacrifices and commitment during your process. 

While “I’m sorry for crying on your shoulder all the time” seems nice, you’re really just making it all about you (again). Friend, this person would not continually listen, support, and comfort you if they didn’t care for you and want to! If they are actually annoyed by it, that’s on them! Don’t apologize. You do the same in return during their season of difficulty, right? Try this: “Thank you for always being here for me. You’re a great listener and I appreciate you so much.” I think you get the point by now.

So, while we did feel guilty for not posting for so long, we also recognize we’ve been on our own journeys during this hell of a year called 2020. Thanks for sticking around and reading our stuff, even when we haven’t posted for so long. Thanks for seeking us out, asking if we have anything new coming soon, and supporting us with your kind words. We appreciate you and look forward to continuing our journeys, side by side. Much love.

  • What have you been apologizing for that you now realize you shouldn’t?
  • To what other situations in your life can you apply these examples?
  • Do you have a certain person/people to whom you apologize most? If so, why is that?
  • After some practice, how does it feel to replace your apology with gratitude?

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