Learning To Stop Apologizing

I have a habit of apologizing.  I apologize a lot.  About everything.  Well, not so much anymore, but its been a long road of learning.

My propensity to apologize over everything was pointed out to me by a friend a little over a year and a half ago.  “You start a lot of sentences with ‘I’m sorry’ and often apologize for things that don’t necessarily require an apology.”   Truth.

I am an insanely honest person.  I have no trouble telling it like it is or giving my opinion when asked.  I hardly ever start a sentence with “I’m sorry but…” because A- “but” negates the “I’m sorry” and B- I am usually not sorry for my opinion.  I do however seem to be sorry for everything I personally feel that has to do with myself, personally.  For example, I say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me” all the time.  If I am coming out of a door while someone is trying to get in, I’ll say “Oh, I’m sorry” even though I have nothing to be sorry about and really I just needed to say excuse me.  Apologizing when I should be saying excuse me is like apologizing for being in a certain space.  What?  Exactly.  And it’s a funny thing; if someone doesn’t like my opinion, especially if they asked me specifically for this opinion, I don’t care.  But if I think a complete stranger hates me because we both want to use the door at the same time, I get all concerned.   I know the latter situation says more about them than it does me and that is exactly why I am working on these issues.    Sometimes, I have actually found myself apologizing for apologizing.

Thank God for therapy!

I had long forgotten that conversation with my friend until a conversation I was having with my therapist about positive changes I have recently made.  She noted that I have mostly stopped apologizing for every feeling I have and for every situation I am in.  She said that when I first started seeing her I would begin most sentences with “I’m sorry that…” and it almost always had to do with how I felt about a particular situation. (Note: particular situation=R2 for about six months!)  This happened all the time during my marathon training.  I was always apologizing to R2 because I didn’t order a drink or have dessert or stay up late.   By by making time for my training and specifically my long runs, I felt like I was letting him down.  It was in the weeks leading up to my race that my friend made her comment about my constant apologizing.  I wasn’t drinking leading up to the race and we were out to dinner.  I apologized to her for not ordering a drink.  She asked why I was sorry and I didn’t have an answer.  I was just so accustomed to apologizing for everything that I was at the point of apologizing out of habit.  I did not need to apologize because I didn’t want dessert.  Or because I couldn’t stay out late due to an early morning run.

Unfortunately, unlearning something is much easier than learning.  Apologizing became a habit; I was already an over-apologizer and my relationship with R2 just exacerbated it.  I have learned through talking it out that often my apologizing is a way of looking for validation.  For someone to say “it’s okay.”  I know now, I really wanted (read:needed) to hear “its okay” and sometimes the only way I got that was to apologize.  I know now, I do not need to be validated.  At least not in that way.

Apologies are now saved for times when I have to act with class and maturity and truly express regret.   If I come out of the door the same time someone is going in…well, that is just happenstance.  Definitely not something I regret or have to feel sorry about.  And when I WANTED to go to bed early, get up early or skip dessert even though R2 didn’t like it, I shouldn’t have been made to feel bad about it.  Yet, I apologized because R2 made me feel selfish for making these decisions.   I know there is a big difference between being selfish and just making different choices.

I am happy to say that I am not apologizing for nothing as much these days.  Probably because I don’t hang out with or date people that make me feel bad for living and not having to apologize for my choices has translated into not having to apologize for everything I do.  To see if my therapist and I were right, I asked my friend what she thought about my change.  We had dinner last night and I straight up asked her if she noticed a difference.  Her response:  “Definitely!”  She even noted when we headed to the bar and myself and another person were headed for the same seat…aha!…we bumped accidentally and I said, “excuse me” instead of “I’m sorry.”

Like everything else, it is a work in progress…but it is still progress!

I worked for a long time on this post and it still seems scattered to me.  Sometimes I have so much to say about something that I end up all over the place with it.  I would apologize for that, but then I would just be defeating the whole purpose of the post.  Instead, I’ll just post it and let it be 🙂

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