“While friendship has been by far the chief source of my happiness, acquaintance or general society has always meant little to me, and I cannot quite understand why a man should wish to know more people than he can make real friends of.”C.S.Lewis, Surprised By Joy
It’s sometimes hard for me to say less instead of more. This post is one of those times. The first version went on for more words than I want to admit. But the power lies in four simple sentences and I deleted the post I intended to write for this much shorter version.
I can’t count the number of times that I and others I know have been offended because someone let us down in one of these four ways. But the reality of life is that others don’t see the world the same way you do, or I do, or we were taught to see it.
Expecting the world to be otherwise is an invitation of needless hurt and endless disappointment.
How much briefer the conversations in life would be if people stopped apologizing for how they feel! The thing is, there is absolutely zero reason for anyone to ever apologize for their feelings because feelings aren’t the result of rational thought: the just are.
Ok… so I know that there are people who are insecure and who think that no one in the world is less than them, so they have to apologize for everything. And while I would like to scream until they stopped doing that I know my temper tantrums aren’t going to fix what has become a way of thinking.
Still, there are others out there who apologize to:
- take up time while they are thinking of something meaningful to say.
- as a way of ingratiating themselves to others
- because they confuse feeling with action.
- and probably a thousand other reasons.
The thing is, things don’t apologize for being what they are. And that’s the key here. Feelings are part of who you are. As a guy who has been known to cry in public I had to get used to the idea that crying has nothing to do with being macho, or masculine, or right or wrong, or anything in particular. The embarrassment about crying, or the need to apologize for something, anything, else arose from within me. No one ever told me to apologize for feelings. I can’t even say my parents ‘modeled’ it to me; though to be honest that was long enough ago that it’s getting harder to remember just what things they might have modeled for me and which ones they instructed me about. (Getting older sucks 🤨) My point simply being that we all put unnecessary burdens on ourselves that no one else expects us to carry — but we do it anyway.
Learning to stop apologizing for being who we are is like learning a new habit. They say it takes 21 days to learn a new habit. Whether it takes 21 days, or 18 days, or 45 days, the key point is that our brains don’t commit to habits easily; it takes some repetition, it takes some forcing our body to repeat the same action over and over again. The first few times your brain tells you to apologize you have to consciously stop what you’re doing and say to yourself, “NO.” Give yourself a reason (like “I don’t have to apologize for being who I am.”) or just take yourself by the proverbial hand and cross the line between apology and owning who you are and be done with it. The second or third times may be easier — or they may not — I bet a part of how easily we form habits has to do with a.) how stubborn we are or b.) how much we really want to change. But, if we persist we can change our behavior; first by force of will, and finally by accepting that this is who we are and the act of apologizing is unnecessary.
Just because I’m a contrary sort of guy, or an independent cuss doesn’t mean I haven’t had the urge to apologize for things that don’t need apologizing for. It might mean that I’m a little more cantankerous about doing it. I’m not always sure my apologies have sounded like what they were supposed to be, but that’s just me. In any event I hope you have good fortune changing at least one of your habits. 🙂
I have referred to Adams a number of times. This sort of sums up my state of mind for the last several months.