Wellness Today: Women! Stop Saying “Sorry”

I consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a strong woman. I consider myself a person who has learned to not let others trample on her. That’s why a piece of feedback from a colleague today really shook me. It was one of the most intentional pieces of feedback I’ve ever received: she had obviously thought about the phrasing of it. Stop apologizing for setbacks or issues, especially those that are out of your control, she wrote. I thought of all the times I had probably apologized when aspects of our project didn’t work out. I can’t specifically recall having apologized, but I believe it.

Around friends, I am more aware. Around likeminded women, I keep my “sorry’s” to myself. But put me in a room where I am out of my element and likely intimidated, and I begin to apologize.

women stop apologizing at work notes

It has been debated whether encouraging women to stop apologizing is actually shameful in and of itself. Although there is a linguistic argument, I think the most personally compelling part of this argument is that setting parameters around what women should and should not say is stifling. That said, I am still of the mindset that I need to stop apologizing.

When I apologize, others just hear an “I’m sorry.” Whether or not I register as inferior to them at that moment is not the issue. The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented. With every apology, I carve the belief that I am less-than deeper within my psyche.

The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented.

I don’t want to doubt my badass self. I don’t want to wake up one morning realizing I’ve apologized myself into a self-deprecating, self-depreciating hole. If I’ve learned one thing on this journey of reinterpreting wellness, it’s that wellness wholly depends on self worth. I won’t shame myself when I apologize, but I will be intentional about categorizing impersonal changes/issues/setbacks as just that — and not accrue the blame myself by implementing the s-word.

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