Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm Sorry... Please Stop Apologizing

Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally reknowned author and speaker in the area of self-development (per his website) says that we are treated the way that we TEACH others to treat us.

Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling to uncover why it seems others are always apologizing to me. One would think, at first, that apologies are a good thing. An apology is, after all, an expression of remorse or an act of contrition. It is the way in which most of us restart our relationships. There is a disagreement or an argument or a hurt of some kind that enters into our union with another and while an apology does not resolve the issue, it often allows us to move past it and to start again.

I am quick to forgive. I try to hold grudges sometimes but they never last. I can put up a front for a long time but internally, I forgive nearly instantly. (Probably not a good thing to reveal... online... in front of all five of my readers.) Those who are easy to forgive tend to be taken for granted.

When you are receiving apology upon apology... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... what does it say about you? Most people would wonder what it says about the apologizer who has to constantly say I'm sorry. But I wonder what it says about ME. Am I allowing people to treat me badly? Am I teaching those around me that it's ok to hurt me because I will forgive and forget?

An occasional "I'm sorry" as in "I'm sorry, I interrupted" or "I'm sorry I took the last Diet Pepsi" is harmless and acceptable and even a good thing. But when forgiveness is sought for deeper hurts or life changing events, hearing "I'm sorry" often is... well, it's sad.

I have a friend who I often think is wiser than Wayne Dyer. She says that people only apologize to help themselves and not for the benefit of others. Saying I'm sorry is merely justification for bad behavior or a way to relieve one's conscience. If she's right, then maybe I am not just a pushover. Maybe I am just a really bad judge of character.

Either way, I don't want to hear another apology for a long time. So the next time you cut me off in traffic, feel good about it. Don't apologize. You got where you wanted to be, right? And if you're in front of me in line at Target and they have to do a price check, don't feel bad and tuck your tail between your legs. Hold your head up high. You have a purchase to make and it's something you really want. It's not your fault it doesn't have a tag. Or if you bump into me and cause me to spill my beer at the baseball game... save the apology and just hand over the ten bucks I'll need to replace it. But DON'T tell me you're sorry. Even if you are. I've got at least three months worth of "I'm Sorry" stored up and I don't need any more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An apology that is accompanied by a clear understanding of what was done "wrong" is really cathartic to receive in my experience. "I'm sorry you feel that way"or "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you" sucks and seems for the benefit of the person apologizing but an apology for a specific wrong doing really exhibits an awareness and the potential for improved behavior. But, that's just my opinion. I too apologize a lot. But I am now trying to focus on what exactly I'm apologizing for, make sure it's legit and then proceed to do something about it.