You’re the sorriest person I know!
The comment was a wake-up call. I was at a barn learning how to ride, English style. Every time my instructor corrected me, I would say, “Sorry.” I started noticing other places that I said sorry. I said sorry in the grocery store when I was coming to the end of an aisle and someone was coming the other way. I said sorry when someone bumped into me. I said sorry when I canceled the cable and the customer service rep demanded to know why. I said sorry so often that I didn’t realize I was saying it.
It is curious how often women say they’re sorry. This is not a new thing. We’ve been conditioned to do it. It’s part of our culture in Western societies. Studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada confirm that women say they’re sorry far more often than men do. It's not that men are calloused, they just have a higher threshold of what is offensive enough to warrant an apology.
So what? Isn’t it polite to apologize? Isn’t it nice to say you’re sorry?
It is, when it’s warranted, but when you apologize for being you that’s when you run into trouble. I’m sorry I wasn’t riding the horse perfectly. I’m sorry I was at the end of the grocery aisle and didn’t see you, it must have been my fault. I’m sorry I was in your way when you bumped into me.
Do you see the problem? I was apologizing for things that weren’t even my fault. I was apologizing for being a beginner and making beginner mistakes. I was apologizing for not having the ability to see around a corner to see if someone was coming. I was apologizing for someone else not paying attention.
I was also apologizing for being me without saying anything.
I would not speak up for fear of offending. I would keep quiet and rob the conversation of my unique voice and perspective. I would not speak up about what I wanted, desired, or liked. I wanted to be “nice” and not make waves.
“Where do you want to go for dinner?”
“Anywhere you would like to go is fine.”
“What do you want to watch?”
“Whatever you want is fine.”
Do you see a pattern? I would delegate all my desires to someone else. I would go along to get along. I loved to avoid confrontation. I made an art out of it. I made it a matter of pride that I didn’t argue much.
Case in point. I work from home and require an internet connection to do my work. Installers from another company came out and cut the cable for my internet. I called and was assured it would be back in 24 hours. I called again when it wasn’t restored and was told someone could come in 2 days. The installer came and didn’t install anything. I accepted his explanation. I called again and again and again.
On the 8th day, I stopped taking the explanations and told the customer service rep that I required the internet, and no, another 3 days was not acceptable. I was not rude, but I was firm. I explained that my job was at stake and I was unable to do it effectively using my phone as a hotspot. I had used up my data and was now on limited data. It was not working. The customer service rep understood the issue, she works from home herself. She was able to get someone out within 45 minutes to provide a temporary solution.
What if I had been less accepting and put my needs first? What if I had chosen somewhere along the way to tell someone what I really wanted to happen? Telling a service provider what I want is not rude. It is telling a service provider what I want.
Instead of spending time finding ways to work around the problem for 6 days, I could have been working with a customer service representative to find a solution that would work for both of us. Why didn’t I? Fear, conditioning, not wanting to get into conflict, or a myriad of other reasons I chose to use to keep myself from getting what I want and especially what I need.
Sometimes walking into a situation where there is some conflict is the best way to achieve something that works for both parties. Avoiding tough conversations isn’t going to make the problem go away. There is no win-win when one party caves in without expressing their true needs.
Avoiding conflict is one more way that women apologize without saying “I’m sorry” out loud. I’m sorry for wanting my internet to be connected. I’m sorry to bother you about it. I’m sorry to be a squeaky wheel. I’m sorry to make your day more difficult. That's like saying I'm sorry I am asking you to do your job and give me the service I pay you for.
There are lots more ways we say we’re sorry without saying it out loud.
But what if you could tune in to your desires, wants, and needs without apology? What if you knew exactly who you are and behaved in a way that honors the real you? What if you stopped apologizing for being you and brought all of you to the world?
It can be liberating to live without apology.
If you want to learn how, I have created a program that will take you from discovering what you truly value and desire to using your values and desires to create your unapologetic life.