Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm Sorry

I used to apologize all the time. Like reflexively. For everything, and to everyone. 

I would say "I'm sorry" constantly for things that I both could and couldn't control. I'd apologize for being tired. I'd apologize for the weather. I'd apologize for being ten minutes late. I'd apologize for being ten minutes early. I'd apologize for something I said or how I said it. I'd apologize for something I wrote or how I wrote it. I'd apologize for something my parent or spouse or child did. I'd apologize for everything under the sun, at work and at home, whether I was objectively at fault or not. 

Obviously, the subtle (or not-so-subtle) message I would convey every time I did this is that everything was my fault, or the result of my own personal failings and bad judgment. It's a form of narcissism really, and a self-destructive form of it at that. It's probably more common with women than men. It was sure common with me. And it suggests to the world that things are your fault or responsibility when they actually may not be.

That's why the older I get, the more selective I've become about when I apologize for something. I am way more hesitant to just sprinkle "I'm sorries" willy-nilly all over the place.

In short, I have started to give the word "sorry" the respect it deserves. I treat it like a sentiment that actually means something and has some value, instead of just some filler word like "uh" that comes out of my mouth as a knee-jerk response to everything that happens every single day.

Before I write or say "I'm sorry" now, I ask myself if it's really true. I ask myself if the thing I am apologizing for actually deserves my apology for any reason at all. Sometimes it does, but more often than not, I have discovered, it doesn't.

I still have plenty of issues with guilt. But I've become very conscious of not saying "sorry" if I don't really mean it. And I've come to realize that I am actually not remotely sorry at least half the times I have the hair-trigger instinct to say that I am.

When you apologize for something, you automatically adopt a position of fault and you automatically acquiesce that whatever you are feeling or doing is wrong. You come to believe it, and so does everyone else. It's like a form of debasing yourself and demeaning yourself, and it's unproductive.

So sorry, but I'm over it.

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