If you are someone who apologizes incessantly, for the tiniest fraction of an instance that doesn't even require an apology; well, you are not alone.
I'm sorry you screwed up my order.
I'm sorry you're not happy.
I'm sorry I wasn't available immediately .
I'm sorry you said something hurtful to me.
My birthday is in a couple of weeks and there's finally something I am figuring out the older that I get: "I'm sorry" is a phrase that I need to rid from my vocabulary. It wasn't too long ago though that I was apologizing for SO MUCH. If I didn't respond to a text message immediately, I later apologized to the person who sent it. If I wrote something that convicted someone or shed some uncomfortable light to their eyes, I apologized for writing it. If I felt insecure, I apologized. How about at a restaurant when my order was wrong? I ordered a vegetarian dish and was given one filled with chicken instead. "I'm sorry," I sheepishly said to the waiter.
I think that often it is women who feel more of a need to apologize. I'm not trying to be gender-selective, I have just noticed this more in the communities and groups that I am a part of. I don't know if this can be chalked up to maternal instincts? We tend to want to be polite and soft-spoken; we don't want to risk offending anyone with our words or thoughts, even if they desperately need to be heard. "I'm sorry, but are all done making noise yet?!" I called to my neighbors who were revving motorcycle engines at two in the morning. I wasn't SORRY, I was ticked off! So why did I start with an apology?
I also think that we live in a society where we are constantly trying to please the people surrounding us. "I'm sorry I have to call out of work and that my kids are sick..." What?! I'm not sorry! I'm sorry that my kids ARE sick, but I'm not sorry that I have to be Mom. "I'm sorry I'm feeling sad, I don't know why I'm so down..." Since when do we have to be sorry for feeling a certain emotion? It wasn't until my kids got a little older and I started recognizing the most repeated phrase in their current toddler dictionary: I'm sorry.
When Reese was learning how to walk and babbling up a storm, I sorry, was the first from her mouth when she fell down. If they bumped into me turning a corner, "I'm sorry!" Or when they had a poopy diaper, "I'm sorry, Mom!" I am NOT the mom who yells at her kids for petty things--definitely not for learning how to walk or dirtying their diapers. But I was the mom who said, "I'm sorry," way too much.
Hurting someone's feelings--sure, apologize if you're in the wrong. Losing your temper with your spouse or children, definitely. But there are so many things I am working on NOT feeling guilty for:
I won't be sorry for being too busy or spending intentional time with my children or husband. I won't be sorry when I am too tired to complete my ridiculously long to-do list. I won't be sorry for not responding to a text message immediately or waiting a few hours to shoot back an e-mail. I won't be sorry when I have kindly and respectfully stood up for what I believe. I won't apologize for using my voice for good.
Are you doing your best? Are you working hard to be successful in your career, home life, relationships? Are you loving yourself well? Then stop apologizing. You do not need to be sorry for existing, you shouldn't feel guilt for being the kick-ass person you are, regardless of how and where. Love others, love you, and then own it!