I hear it all the time… people, especially women, apologizing for things they have no business apologizing for – apologizing for speaking, apologizing for standing in a certain spot, apologizing when they walk through a door. So I ask myself, why an apology? Why “I’m sorry”?
This morning, Siri clearly defined an apology as “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure”. Wow, really?!? Why are we apologizing for things that are not offensive and are not failure?
If I step on someone’s toes or I’m rude or impatient, by all means, I owe an apology. But when I walk to the door at the same time you do, when I feel the need to speak, when I’m first in line, or when I am taking up space at the grocery store, why am I apologizing?
I think we learn very early on to be “polite” and “kind”. But somewhere along the way, the message gets distorted or taken out of context. Over-apologizing can give clear indications of how we will allow ourselves to be treated. It can be attached to our self-worth or belief in our right to exist.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe deeply in kindness. Kindness and manners are such simple acts we can offer to others. They cost us nothing and require no real risk or effort. A little kindness can go along way. I wish we were all more kind to each other. Actual kindness might be a simple smile, holding the door for someone, allowing someone to go first, saying hello, or actually making eye contact. But kindness is not apologizing for myself.
When the urge to apologize arises, see if one is really in order. Have you actually harmed or failed someone? If you have, do the right thing, apologize. But if not and you are simply living your life and making your way through the day, then offer kindness without apology. Today, feel free to claim your space, be first, or to speak up. You’re worth it!