I stopped apologizing before I was forced to stop apologizing:
“Can you break a $20? Sorry, I know you’re busy.” I said to my coworker on an especially busy afternoon.
He stopped what he was doing and turned his entire body to me.
“Stop apologizing” he said, eyes locked on mine. Then he took the bill from my hands.
I hadn’t been at all aware that I’d been apologizing often, let alone to a point that someone might be annoyed by it. This particular coworker was a friend, and I immediately understood his point: I had no reason to use an apology as a plea for getting what I wanted. After all, as a self-help writer, I’m abreast of all the reasons why apologizing unnecessarily diminishes credibility and authority. So I heeded the advice.
Once I vowed to stop apologizing (unless I’d done something wrong or hurt someone), my life took a drastic turn. I wouldn’t have thought it before, but it wasn’t how other people saw me that changed – it was how I saw myself.
How the Vow to Stop Apologizing Changed My Life:
I gained confidence, and started getting what I wanted
I didn’t realize that the habit of starting sentences with “Sorry, but could you…” actually made me present my own needs as weaknesses. It was probably clear to the other person, but the reason it wasn’t clear to me was because the word ‘sorry’ had subconsciously made me feel as if I was constantly bothering other people. Once I stopped using the world ‘sorry’ in my approach to ask for things, I started realizing that confidence is a much better tool for getting what you want than neediness. The more I practiced this, the more confident I became, and the more doors my confidence started opening.
I realized my wants have worth
I’m being honest when I saw that saying sorry so often was totally unintentional, but the intentional practice of not apologizing did more than change a bad habit. When I stopped apologizing for my wants, beliefs, and actions I started to hold my own wants up to the worthiness of other people’s. When I didn’t say ‘I’m sorry’ for expressing a need or want, I was forced to realize I’d been compromising my own needs because I thought they were selfish. The truth is, unless I fulfill my own needs, I can’t do anything for anyone else. Unless I love myself, believe in myself, and take care of myself, I can’t offer those actions to other people. When my wants and needs became as big of a priority to me as everyone else’s wants and needs, I became a more capable, compassionate and empowered woman.
Additionally, apologizing for my opinion (such as “I’m sorry, I just think that…”) had built in a belief system within me of my opinion being unwanted. In not apologizing, I started holding other people accountable as people who might want to help and support me, while empowering myself to speak up.
I realized other ways I’d been blocking myself
Once my friend had made clear to me that I apologized too often, I started to wonder other areas that I had subconscious habits that affected my personal wellbeing. After removing ‘I’m sorry’ from my vocabulary, I noticed a few other unhealthy, limiting messages I repeated (some out loud, and some to myself). Phrases like “I can’t” and “I’m not good enough for” were running through my head on a daily basis, and keeping me in a cage of fear, even when I didn’t admit these messages out loud to anyone else. I started meditating with more positive mantras for confidence (I teach a class on positive affirmation meditation) and started seeing immediate results.
I made one last apology to the most important person of all: MYSELF
There was only one person all along that needed an apology, and that was myself. I had to take a long hard look at how I had been conducting myself, and it was embarrassing to realize I’d willingly been diminishing my own authority that way. The only person I truly needed to apologize to was me. Apologizing to myself, my worth, and my potential gave me the strength to be my own advocate, and go after what I wanted.
How to Stop Apologizing:
– Realize your wants and needs have worth
– Remember that Confidence opens more doors than Neediness
– Assume the best in others – that they will support and help you
– Keep in mind that confidence and believing in yourself are habits that need practice: the more you do it, the easier it will be