I am. And I’m betting most women are. In fact, a study found that women apologize more than men do. Why? Men have a higher tolerance for what they perceive is worthy of an apology. Women who want to instill harmony in their relationships are more sensitive to transgressions, and more apt to feel like victims of wrongdoing.
The Bad Thing About Over-Apologizing
The thing about saying, “I’m sorry” is that it becomes habitual. Some of us do it as a courtesy, a polite remark. Others say it because they genuinely feel bad for something they’ve done. It can also be an afterthought, an easy statement to appease it’s recipients: “I’m sorry for not blogging, for my last inadequate post, for snubbing you, for what I wore today, for not working hard enough, for breathing.”
As women we’re taught to apologize, to appear polite, to sweep up the dust under the rug so no one sees it. But when does saying, “I’m sorry” become too much?
After the tenth time apologizing for a transgression (maybe you’re constantly late or you continually offend a friend), your apology may become watered down. Maybe it’s a sign you need to delve in deep and figure out why you’re really doing what you’re doing.
What Apologizing Could Really Be Hiding
You’re always late for a class or a meeting. Why? There’s a part of you that just doesn’t want to be there. It could be a sign you’re avoiding addressing an issue because it’s uncomfortable. Instead of just relinquishing a commitment, it feels easier to apologize for being late or unavailable.
If you find yourself continuously apologizing to a friend or your partner, you probably feel pretty resentful inside. Maybe you do it because you don’t know any other way to communicate. Maybe you’re afraid to open up and express how you really feel. It feels a lot easier to pacify an angry person then it is to figure out if you should be in this relationship in the first place.
Apologizing can heal a relationship, but it can also be a temporary band-aid. The key is to figure out what role it serves in your relationships. Are you apologizing because you feel less than, to temper a difficult person or issue or are you doing it because you are sincerely sorry for what you have done?
To be human means you ache. You hurt for the things you don’t have, the life you never got, the people who betrayed you. Some days seem full of grief, heartbreak and anger. And it’s so easy to stay in this place.
Although you’re never promised a perfect life, you gripe in agony over the things don’t turn out as planned. Perhaps, serious transgressions occurred at one time and you wish desperately for a way to right the wrong. And instead of wading your way through it, you allow anger to slough away the vulnerability and toughen your insides. It can become a daily obsession. “What if this didn’t happen? Why did it have to happen to me?”
This kind of thinking is in no way helpful, productive or beneficial. In fact a lifetime of daily bitterness is a pill that will end up killing the soul, one negative thought at the time.
Nobody wants a life like that. No one deserves it. But how do we transition from victim to victor when we’re enduring so much pain?
This F-word will always do it. Forgiveness.
On *Oprah’s Next Chapter, Olympian Greg Louganis shared his inspirational story about how he went from a troubled childhood, being bullied, abusing drugs, suffering from depression and rape to getting to the other side of victim toward hope, freedom and happiness via forgiveness. In fact, he’s not only forgive them, but thanks them for the gifts they brought.
Here’s my favorite quote from him:
“[A] lot of those experiences were the gems of my life. It also allows me to empathize with people who are in similar situations. If I share my story, if I share who I am, it just kind of opens up that door to let other people know that they’re not alone.”
The truth is, forgiveness isn’t about the other person. It’s always about us. It’s about allowing ourselves to heal, to move on and to let the experience change us in a positive way. There will always be love and light if we open that door. When we allow ourselves to finally forgive, let go and make peace with a situation that cannot be changed, we give ourselves the freedom to love others and love life again.
*click here to watch the actual video.
I think one of the greatest obstacles we grapple with is learning how to accept what is instead of moaning and groaning about what we don’t have.
It’s like we’re sitting there one hand full of riches and the other hand open full of potential. But we don’t see it. Nope. We’re too focused on the fact that the other hand is empty and not filled yet.
“Why oh why is it not filled yet?,” we ask.
It causes us to transform back into our 2-year-old selves, throwing punches to the air, crying out for all the things we deserve to have, but don’t. Praying about how much we need it, how much better our lives would be with it. And there we are so focused on our poor, wounded souls that we neglect the jewels that fill us, surround us and already make us whole.
If you ever need to be reminded of that, check in with your nearest and dearest furry child. Notice how they seem utterly forgetful about all the mishaps you do. Analyze how a mere treat, a pet on the head or a cuddle could make them silly with joy. See how they seem to pass up the chance to moan about their loss sibling that you had to adopt them away from or the fact that they don’t have a mate, kids or even anyone that even slightly resembles them. They just move on.
Accepting your situation can feel hard. It can be like welcoming an uninvited guest or settling for less.
But it’s not.
Learning how to accept whatever you’re going through and wherever you are is a gift.
It’s about returning to a state of vulnerability in realizing you have less control over life than you think. And that is okay.
It’s about loosening your grip over the outcome and opening your heart up to possibility instead of forced intention.
It’s about seeing your life as a large red carpet unfolding in front of you instead of a predetermined path.
It’s about releasing the rigidity of adulthood that sometimes tricks us into believing we know everything.
It’s a lesson in gratitude for what you have instead of what you still haven’t received.
It’s a muscle being flexed to exercise resiliency.
It’s a reminder that the events of your life ebbs and flows like waves. No matter what you’re going through it will not always be this way.
More importantly, it’s about relinquishing the need to know what’s next. It’s about continuing to relax and release when we feel the need to grasp on harder. It’s about giving up our ego and just letting things be.
Acceptance isn’t easy.
But if we let go into the wave of difficulty rather than force our way through it, we will find the ride much easier. And almost always it will take our breath away.
Fear if left alone will only grow bigger. And if confronted can reap so many unexpectedly beautiful things.
Such a small choice like deciding to go out with a new friend or trying a new restaurant, a new way home, can be like a car wash for your soul. Sometimes it’s small ripples that cause the biggest waves.
Driving over this scenic highway, I thought about all the opportunities I would have missed had I allowed fear to control my life.
Staying safe seems comfortable, the way it feels to slide into your bunny slippers or have a warm meal on a cold day. It feels good. And it should. But over time, comfort sticks over our life like cobwebs. It makes it harder to trust your instincts, have faith and LIVE your life.
I thought about the relationships I held onto in fear of never finding the right one, jobs I took out of desperation and times when I overstayed my welcome because knowing what was in front of me (no matter how bad) was better than the unknown.
Perhaps the biggest lessons I learned is this:
“You were never safer anyway.”
Believing that you’ll stay safe by not traveling, by turning down a scary, but exciting opportunity doesn’t guarantee you’ll live longer or that you’ll prevent heartache, financial despair or difficulty. We grow up thinking that we can control life. But we can only control how we prepare and and how we react to things. The rest? That’s where faith comes in.
Remember that the next time you start to believe in false certainties. The only difference between living a life “safe” and living on the edge is that the former is filled with regrets and latter will bring you closer to your dreams.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a freelance writer who specializes in psychology and self-help articles. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and writes for several publications and websites. You can get more information about her here. She also blogs about inspiration, writing inspiration and psychology.