Stop Apologizing & Be Proud Of Who You Are

About a week ago I started to hear myself saying “I’m sorry” more and more. I had not hurt anyone’s feelings. It was more about me apologizing for how I was taking up space – for who I am in the world. Ouch!

We all have our blind spots. And our lives give us ample opportunities to become aware of them. When we first become aware of that-thing-we-had-no-idea-we-were-doing, it stings. Eventually though, that initial sting goes away, leaving us feeling more clear than ever.

Language is powerful. I say this all the time. I am constantly reminded to be impeccable with my words. Our thoughts that turn into beliefs, which in turn are carried into the world as words, make a difference.

Whenever I have a miscommunication with someone, it seems the other person immediately responds with “I’m sorry”.  And when this happens, I always ask: “Why are you sorry, you did nothing wrong? It was just us communicating”.

We are little universes bumping up against one another trying to connect. And when there is an uncomfortable spot, it seems that most of us default to apologizing for something we did not even really do.  Apologizing because we just “were”.

Why do we apologize for being?

For me, it’s rooted in coming from an abusive home, dodging fists and swords of painful words. I had to protect myself. In some way I felt like I was not worth anything. Being shushed totally pushed me down.

Growing up being seen and not heard… watching a mother who was not able to speak up; if she did was yelled at or hit… hearing that, as a women, you are not worth anything. Growing up like that? You might apologize for having your opinion.

Another place this “I’m sorry” shows up unnecessarily is when we try something for the first time. As adults, we think we have to get it right the first time. If not, we hit the shame mark and…apologize. This robs us of the experience.

Where does that stem from?

Somewhere, between becoming a teenager end entering our 20’s, we are supposed to “know”. Luckily now, we have the internet for info at our fingertips. And still we beat the crap out of ourselves.

How about this instead: We allow ourselves to be a beginner, state that we are stepping into uncharted territories and just enjoy what happens. Without getting in the way and shutting down the possibilities that lie before us.

(Just food for thought to build your self confidence with!)

Now that my attention is turned onto this sub-conscious habit, I hear it in conversations everywhere – with my friends, at the grocery store, at the dog park, and with clients. It really hit home for me when one of my Inner Circle Mastery members shared this with me the other day: “I am always the one putting myself down and not letting myself be myself! I apologize for being myself before people even have a chance to judge me or I tell them what I think is wrong about me before they even get a chance to make up their own minds.”

Do you put yourself down before somebody else can too?

How many times a day are you saying “I’m sorry”? How many times are you apologizing for how you are in the world? How many times a day are you wanting to grow but then squelch it; by saying those two words that block you off from being?

To add more flavor to this conversation, I reached out to women I love on the journey who are also committed to growth and transformation. They were happy to join the conversation and share their wisdom. (You may find the one thing that clicks for you.)

Leave a comment and tell me if you are doing this too so I don’t feel alone. Any wisdom? Share it please!

When we unnecessarily apologize for ourselves, we drain our power and subvert our intentions. I love a well-wrought apology in the right moment… But not in favor of “excuse me”.

Elena Brower, Founder and Co-owner of Virayoga & Founder of Art of Attention — talk to Elena on Twitter

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The way I see it, trusting ourselves, our lives, and how they unfold––while also truly leaning into our intuition and following our heart––this is the most important work we have. It takes such huge courage to stay this path, but we absolutely MUST come from this place or else we’ll feel like we’re letting ourselves down. There will be a quiet desperation.

Apologizing all the time, perpetually needing to explain ourselves, or looking to others for outside approval so that can we feel good about ourselves and our decisions… these are all sure signs that we’ve forgotten who we are and we’re giving our power away. Nothing is worth that.

Kris Ward, CEO & Founder Abundantyogi.com — talk to Kris on Twitter

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Strings of words are symbols, and symbols are sacred. Especially when they contain the most sacred word of all: “I.” You wouldn’t say “I love you” if you didn’t mean it. You wouldn’t say “I’m hungry” if it wasn’t true. You wouldn’t say “I’m here now” if you’re not.

So don’t say “I’m sorry” unless you’re truly feeling remorseful. Instead, say what you REALLY are:

“I’m embarrassed.”
“I’m confused.”
“I’m frustrated by this situation.”
“I don’t have the information I need.”
“I don’t know how to proceed.”
“I’m feeling the need to know that you’re not angry with me, and that everything’s okay…”

Be clear. Be courageous. Hand out apologies, just like compliments — only when you MEAN it, and only to those who deserve ’em.

Alexandra Franzen, alexandrafranzen.com — talk to Alexandra on Twitter

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There are two kinds of apologies: the first as an act of taking responsibility for an action you took that left someone else dis-empowered, like you told a lie or you called someone a jerk. The second as an act of dis-empowering yourself.

The first one is an act of courage, vulnerability and love. The second is an act of fear, and there is no need. You are magnificent and amazing. Own it.

Tanya Peluso AKA Tanya Bliss, Founder of Tribal Truth — talk to Tanya on Twitter

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Save apologies for when you truly know that you have made a mistake that has hurt someone else. Apologizing for who you are or choices you have made is essentially the same thing as saying that you are not being the best you can be.

It doesn’t excuse anything. If you are actively working toward personal growth, making the world a better place and being the best you can be… there is no reason to apologize. There is only reason to celebrate.

Britt Michaelian, BrittMichaelian.com — talk to Britt on Twitter

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I love the Spanish version of apology, ‘lo siento’. ‘I feel it’. That makes a lot more sense to me, for us to feel for each other instead of immediately sorrow for each other. Let’s re-set the default setting on that one. Let’s default to feeling empowered by what is happening, empowered by what we feel, instead of guilty and punished. It’s only appropriate to be ‘sorry’ or sorrow for something when it’s sad. It’s not sad that you are here. The more you show up fully here, the more we all get. It’s ALL a wanted. Even the yuck. I recommend that when you are tempted to apologize, instead FEEL IT. Say ‘I feel you’ instead of ‘sorry’. Feel what’s going on and respond from there. That’s real and that’s big.

Ane Axford, LMFT, SensitiveAndThriving.com — talk to Ane on Twitter

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A friend of mine once confided in me that she apologized so frequently that one day a colleague–totally out of the blue–told her that it seemed like she was actually sorry for just…existing. Freedom isn’t even a distant cousin of apologizing for merely existing.

If you believe that you desire freedom…it’s time to claim your space here on planet Earth. No need for explanations, dissertations or apologies. We’re all in this together.

Alison Hummel, — talk to Alison on Twitter

Remember you are part of this conversation too! Speak up, express  + share what comes up for you. I love connecting to you.

xo,



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Comments

  1. OMG, this couldn’t have come at a better time for me, Hillary. I have been sorry my whole life and I am ready to step into my power. Thank you!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Well put. I can relate and so can many others. What the internet has revealed to me is how many children are abused, how many men are confused, and how unecessarily messed-up relationships between men and women are. Hope we figure it out soon and put an end to the pain.

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      Thanks Jennifer. It is amazing how much is revealed through the internet and how much is healed there too. 🙂

  3. Who You Are. hmmm. i try to drop all the ‘stories’ that keep, keep keep coming freakin’ up, the good, the bad. the ugly, the unconscious the conscious. The real question in my not so humble opinion 🙂 is: “WHO AM I?’ yoga wisdom. saint Ramana Maharshi. Self-Inquiry. Who is sorry? it is a practice, a teaching, one way home to peace and stopping the ugly voices of being sorry because of the “not good enuf” demon. in the end I AM…not i am this, i am that, i am sorry. simply I AM. xoxo

  4. Clear, conscious communication is such an opportunity to immediately upgrade our life. Paying attention to the way we communicate is a valuable way we can uplift our energy and make a difference each day.

    It is interesting how women do tend to apologize more, and it is just a sign that we are second guessing ourselves, rather than knowing that what we have to contribute is of such value. I notice that this is often because we are not as conscious of ways we can be ourselves without feeling the need to apologize. This is actually a sign that we are trying to find a way to express our authentic selves. Its as if we are waiting to feel safe to do so, or to have permission to be this. This blog post is powerful because it opens up the kind of conversation that allows just this.

    As women, we have such an opportunity to inspire, support and empower each other as a community and I love seeing everyone on here sharing their insights and wisdom in this way. Thank you Hillary and everyone who has shared their thoughts for creating this here.
    Love it!

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      Thanks Premakarini! Yes conscious communication is the fastest way to upgrade ourselves and in turn our life. Love your wisdom and you are so welcome. Can’t wait to check out your blog. 🙂

  5. Jennie says:

    I really enjoyed your article. I was one to apoligize to people when I did nothing wrong. I would apologize to people when I felt they should be apologizing to me. I do need to take a stand and appreciate myself and know that I belong here! Thanks for your inspiring words!

  6. What a powerful article Hillary! The emotional and verbal abuse I too faced as a child left a huge mark and conscious communication became my life’s lessons, work and teaching. It is 100% true that we must break out of the automatic habits and wake ourselves up to what we say and how we speak. This is the fastest way to truly see the impact we are having on ourselves and others. Apologizing, playing small or minimizing are some of the biggest ways I see women in particular diminish themselves and take away from their power and presence within seconds. Whether in business or in life, from the stage or privately in our thoughts, as a parent or in any relationship, what comes out of our mouth is key. I love how you share your story and bring this conversation to light!!

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      Thanks Tracey for being brave and sharing your experience here. I’m touched. I love how you help women to move through this and become leaders, speakers and fulfill their missions. xo

  7. Hillary, I appreciate your vulnarable exploration. And clear communication of the underbelly territory. I have this great practice ~ an example ~ I was late for an appointment. And instead of saying ‘I am sorry I am late’. I now say ‘Thank you for your patience.’ The person feels aknowledged. And I feel in integrity. If you are reading, try it and let me know. 🙂

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      Olga, I am glad you get it love. Love your practice and will take your suggestion for a “test drive” — thank you for your patience. Sweetness. Already feel the shift. Thank you! 😉

  8. Words have limitation, and to me it’s more about how they are used than the words themselves. In other languages, there is no difference between “excuse me” and “I’m sorry”, and this helped me to find a different relationship to my use of these words. I agree that the words can be used to limit our personal power, but they can also be used to express humility, a very undervalued quality. So, no easy answer, but the intention and context matter more to me than the words themselves.

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      Thanks Jacki i totally agree which is why becoming aware helps from thoughts to expression in the world. Intention is impt and when we apologize for being it is not giving out the messages that are in alignment with our “logical” intention. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  9. Apologies can also be a passive-aggressive way to get the connection and love that we crave – it’s so hard to ask for validation in an empowering way (and when did we ever get taught this…? I know I missed that session!) that we resort to asking to be forgiven for existing instead.

    Here’s something that I find helps – I imagine that everyone is at eye level with me ie: not lower than me or higher than me (in other words, better or worse) and I make connections with people from a place of equality. If we’re both the same then I have less to be sorry for!

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      Thanks Tamarisk for adding to the conversation. We are all shoulder to shoulder and taking people off pedestals is super important. 🙂

  10. Helen Herman says:

    Hillary, “I’m sorry” I didn’t read this sooner! 😉

    What a great post… I remember when I was first dating my now-ex husband nearly 20 years ago, he told me to stop apologizing all the time. I realize now that I was overcompensating for little resentments that would eventually build up and cause me to want to divorce him years later. Talk about the impact apologizing can have on someone’s life. Always best to speak our truth, only apologizing when we have truly caused someone else harm.

    Thank you for sharing this, and I’m loving the community you’ve got going here. 🙂

  11. Hillary – this was a WONDERFUL post. In fact, apologizing is the topic that I believe keeps us from living our most fabulous lives, especially being women. One of the things men don’t do that we women tend to is apologize to inanimate objects…I hit a chair by accident, I say sorry. I bump into a mannequin in the store, I say sorry. It’s really amazing that we’ve been subliminally trained to immediately apologize when there’s nothing there. Your post is poignant and relevant and thank you for sharing!
    Jen

  12. Fantastic post thank-you! I became conscious of my own ‘sorry’ behaviours a while back and it resonated hugely with me and still does. My question now is how to gently share this revelation…..it drives me nuts now when I hear my beautiful, powerful and talented women friends constantly apologising for themselves. I want to speak up in a gentle way…..will keep working on it!

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      You are welcome Janine! Great to connect here. Yes, it is amazing how many of us are sleep walking apologisers wake them up gently. 🙂

  13. Alex Roulstone says:

    Hillary, I am so glad I found this article, it is really helping me come to terms with my life. For god knows how long, I have been apologising to my girlfriend and my family and friends whenever I felt I have done something wrong, even when I didn’t and when they have even said to me: “Why are you saying sorry for?” I still kept apologising. Until now, honestly, I thought if I said it to people when I have slightly done something wrong I would be alright, but now I see that I have been saying it when I THOUGHT I have done something wrong because it was me. I finally see that I have been apologising for being alive. It won’t be easy since I have been doing it most of my life but I will try to be proud of myself and only apologise when I see that I have hurt someone and or have been told that I have hurt someone. Thank you so very much.

  14. Jeanette says:

    Question: how do you ‘be’ when all around you are not interested or block what you ‘do’ say? What you are saying is not of anger, or ‘right’, you share what you see and offer a thought. Suggestions?

    • Hillary Rubin says:

      You stay in your center Jeanette! Listen more… and hold your thoughts close to your heart. Then ask if they are open to a new idea. Let me know if that works.

  15. I agree with Alexandria Franzen that you should apologize only when you really mean it. For me I love to express the emotion I feel in a particular situation that is happening in the moment. Just like she said if I am confused I say that, if I am anxious I say that. If I feel frustrated I say just that.

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