Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


When You’re Not Sorry

file000417362937I’ve had clients ask me if it’s okay to not say, “I’m sorry” when they’re not sorry, even if it’s expected. Perhaps you tell someone you can’t volunteer for something they want you for and the truth is you’re happy to turn them down. Why say you’re sorry if you’re not? Often we say it out of habit or because we think it’s the polite things to do. That was me when I was a DoorMat. Since I wanted everyone to like me, “I’m sorry” came out of my mouth on autopilot. But even then it felt disingenuous if I wasn’t sorry. Saying “I’m sorry” when you’re not is common but unnecessary, and can hurt your self-empowerment. Why?

•    Saying “I’m sorry” implies that you did something wrong. And feeling like you did something wrong can hurt your self-image and stir up guilt.
•    Turning down a request with “I’m sorry” attached will encourage the person to ask again.
•    Apologizing for something you didn’t do wrong tells the person and the Universe that you think you’re wrong.

Get into the habit of pausing before you say “I’m sorry,” unless at the moment it’s very legit, like you stepped on someone’s foot or gave the wrong info. Otherwise, ask yourself:

•    Did I do anything that’s wrong?
•    Am I really sorry or just saying it to be polite?
•    How can I express what I really feel about it?

If you recognize that you don’t feel sorry, don’t say it! Empower yourself enough to only apologize when you do feel you were wrong. Give yourself permission to skip it. If you feel you need to say something or to express that you’re sorry, make sure you say what you’re sorry for, using words like:

•    “I’m sorry you don’t want to go alone but I can’t join you.”
•    “I’m sorry you’re stuck for volunteers for your event but I have something else to do.”
•    “I’m sorry you were hurt by what I said but I had to be honest about how I feel.”

Say you’re sorry that they have bad feelings, not for your part in it. That makes a big difference in how you process the apology and increases your self-empowerment and improves your self—image.
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