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What I love most about my job is the “ah ha” moments I get from my clients. Recently a client was lamenting to me about how often she apologizes for herself. She had realized the frequency in which she apologizes for innate parts of personality–most annoying, the parts of her personality she really enjoys!! As I sat there listening to her voice her frustration, I thought, to myself, she is not alone…we all apologize way too often for way too much.
Now for the record, I am not talking about apologizing when you do something hurtful or say something inappropriate. I am talking about apologizing for your mere existence on the planet. Apologizing for the fact that you understood something easier, jumped a few steps faster than a co-worker or even streamlined a project with ease. Somewhere along the line we were taught to apologize for our gifts–apologize for the traits that make us unique or different.
It has become the new norm in polite society to apologize for having an opinion, perspective or solution that is different. It is ironic because on one hand we celebrate our differences and that no two people are alike and on the other hand we spend my of our time conforming to make sure no one gets uncomfortable.
The problem, as my client was lamenting, is that apologizing for ourselves keeps us stuck. When we say “I’m sorry” for every difference, every little thing we keeping our unique gifts from begin shown to the world. In making sure everyone is comfortable and safe we aren’t growing and changing as a person or as a community.
It is almost laughable when you think about the things we apologize for…in paying attention to myself I apologize for being too insightful, or too ‘therapisty’ or even too sensitive to others needs. All of these traits are aspects of myself I like about myself. They are traits that not every one has and admittedly traits that can be overwhelming…but not traits that I need to be ashamed of or sorry about. They are traits that make me who I am.
When I look at the people who inspire me they are putting themselves out there, unabashedly sharing their ideas and opinions.
What about you? What do you find yourself apologizing for?
Dyana Valentine, recently did a talk at Tedx on this topic called I’m Not Sorry . Check it out!