Apologizing can be a bit tricky for me. While I pride myself on being someone who is able to look within, take responsibility, and resolve conflicts directly – I also know that my own arrogance and insecurity cause me to sometimes stubbornly refuse to apologize or, often more damaging, over apologize, which can include apologizing for who I am.
Being able to take responsibility for our impact on others, acknowledge and own our mistakes and shortcomings, and restore trust and connection with the people around us (i.e. what authentic apologizing is all about) are essential aspects of living a fulfilled life and creating healthy relationships.
However, many of us devalue, disrespect, and do harm to ourselves and those around us, by apologizing for who we are in a shame-based way – which usually comes from a place of shame (feeling as though we’re not good enough or there’s something inherently wrong with us).
Apologizing authentically is about taking responsibility for our actions, our impact, or our results, as an adult. This is called remorse – wishing we hadn’t done or said something, and taking actions to address and rectify the situation within ourselves, with others, or both.
Apologizing for who we are is often about us thinking or saying some version of, “I’m bad, it’s my fault, or don’t hate me,” as if we’re a child looking for validation or approval. This is a specific example of how shame shows up in our lives. And, no matter how much we might “apologize,” when it comes from this insatiable, shame-based place, we’re never able to shake the feeling of something being wrong with who we are.
The more we notice that we’re apologizing for who we are, the more opportunity we have to look deeper – acknowledge, feel, and express our shame, and in the process begin to heal ourselves in a real way.
While we all have “issues,” “flaws,” and “challenges” in life – at the deepest level, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of us. Most of us, myself included, spend and waste way too much time judging, criticizing, and being mean to ourselves.
Treating ourselves in this critical way never works – it doesn’t help us become better people, it doesn’t give us access to more love, power, or talent, it doesn’t make us more available for those around us who we want to support – it simply keeps us stuck in a negative story about who we think we are and what we think needs to be “fixed” about us so we can then live the life we truly want to live.
What if we stopped doing this to ourselves, stopped apologizing for who we are, and started honoring, valuing, and loving ourselves in an authentic way?