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Saturday, December 8, 2012

"I'm Sorry!" (Over-Apologizing and Guilt)

If you were my child or dog, which face would YOU prefer looking at you all day?

It's ironic that my coach, Francoise from Guilt-Free Mothering, highlighted my previous post on letting go of guilt on her blog this week, because guilt is something I had let myself slip back into over the past few months because of some things going on in my life. It wasn't ever something I had completely mastered. But I had really let myself drown in it the last few weeks. I was burned out and needed a mommy break, yet I felt guilty for feeling that way and was not giving myself permission to feel frustrated. We are dealing with yet another pet with cancer, so my brain automatically makes it my fault somehow. And on and on. I had honestly begun to convince myself I was a failure at just about everything.

I have already started to let go of so much since my first two sessions. I could literally feel myself breathing easier when we started getting to the root of some things. Before the first session, I had to fill out a 15-page questionnaire that really caused me to dig deep into some of the things that have been holding me back. I consider myself to be pretty self-aware, and I still realized some things about myself that I hadn't noticed before. I realized even more during the session.

One of the big things I realized is that I apologize too much.

I didn't even know I was doing it. But I was going around apologizing for not being enough this or that.

I would apologize to my husband for little things like not doing the dishes that day or not being the kind of girl who likes beer and can just hang out while we have one. This is so silly. We both do the dishes, and it isn't the end of the world if I don't have time sometimes, and he would never, ever criticize me for something like that, so why would I let it make me feel like a failure? Every time I would apologize for something, he'd tell me not to be so hard on myself and that it wasn't a big deal. And he doesn't care if I like beer or not. He told me to stop worrying and that he wants me to be exactly the way I am. When it comes to our dogs, instead of being happy and playful with them, I was always looking at them with sad eyes and apologizing for not being able to walk them that day and whatnot. I don't even want to begin to think of the kind of negative energy I was projecting to my daughter during this time...or else I will probably start apologizing for it.

Not only was my over-apologizing causing this constant sad, "something is wrong" type of energy in our household and probably leaving everyone else on edge as well, but it was reinforcing my own misguided belief that I was a failure.

Every time I apologized for something that did not warrant an apology or guilt, I was subconsciously tallying up more reasons to think less of myself.

When I discovered I was doing this, I became more conscious of it and started correcting myself every time I'd start and then change the statement to something filled with gratitude and happiness. Let me tell you...this simple change has completely turned my perspective around. I'm lighter and more forgiving of myself. I'm remembering that I'm doing a great job and am a pleasure to be around, darnit. :) With my dogs, for example, instead of, "I feel so bad; I'm sorry I can't play with you right now," I turned it into, "Who's a good dog? You are! I'm so happy you're my dog!" Instead of, "What am I going to do without you? I'm so sorry you have this!" while crying to my cat who has cancer, it's become, "I'm so thankful we're together in this moment. I'm so enjoying being with you and seeing you feel good right now." There is a noticeable change not just in my face and attitude but in theirs, in response to mine. I'm not saying you should squelch or hide your real emotions. I'm not saying showing sadness in front of your loved ones is bad. It's not! But if it's all the time, that's not beneficial to you or them. It's draining.

You need to change the energy you're sending out, both for your loved ones' sake and your own sense of self. Gratitude. Not guilt.

Sometimes apologizing for something is necessary and good! But, like guilt and most other things, when taken to extremes, it's highly destructive to your sense of self-worth.

You've heard me say it a thousand times: if you tell yourself something enough times, positive or negative, you will eventually believe it. By apologizing to others, I was actually telling myself that I wasn't measuring up. Now I am choosing to tell myself I'm enough.

It can be life-changing to change one simple thing you're constantly telling yourself. Try it and see what happens.

So we don't end on too heavy of a's something I've found consistently hysterical over the years...a parody of the great song by One Republic, "Apologize," of course.

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