Welcome to Wyrd conversations! I’m Samantha, the founder of Wyrd Coaching and the creator of Wyrd conversations. Today I want to reflect on the need to apologize and the difference between I’m sorry and I apologize.
Let’s start with I’m sorry versus I apologize. I’m sorry puts someone in the victim’s seat. Granted, this could well be the case! Yet often, the use of I apologize is the healthier turn of phrase. When we say I apologize we take ownership for our actions and our words and any harm done, without implying the other person is a victim. Just because you get your feelings hurt, doesn’t automatically make you a victim. People can only talk from their perspective, if they are unaware of yours, they could say something that upsets you, yet there was no malice. You may be thinking, that is just semantics. Yes, and that makes the point no less valid. If you feel like you need to apologize for yourself and your existence, it might be time to delve into that to sort out why. If you are uncomfortable with yourself, is it time to work on something? A trait you don’t like or need anymore? Or just overall self-acceptance?
This brings me around to the point that recently I noticed how often people apologize for being themselves. People often say I’m sorry I’m just different, or I’m sorry I’m odd as if they are somehow wrong for being themselves. Being sorry for being yourself is akin to saying the world is in charge of you, who you are and you aren’t living up to that exterior standard. Why the hell would you want to? Seriously – give that some serious thought. Is it to fit in?
Fitting in is a core aspect of human nature, finding some group that accepts us connects back to my all-time favorite theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I am aware my fondness for this theory is generally not the popular theory to fan girl over, but it is my choice and I sleep peacefully at night with that choice. Maslow’s theory basically puts things in a pyramid, with the bottom being physiological needs (food/water), then safety (financial/health), then love & belonging (social groups/love/family), then esteem (appreciation/recognition by our chosen groups) and at the tippy top is self-actualization (being the best you can be/personal growth). Now many have discarded this theory, but others, like myself, still love it, and recently it has come back into a bit of popularity. Being a pyramid structure, you may think you have to go through all the sections to get to the top, and you would be half right. Think of it like this, if you are living on the street and starving, you are looking for your next meal and how to literally survive, you are not likely focused on self-actualization. That said, if you are living on the streets you are still likely part of a group, and so want to fit in there, if only to get warm by a shared heat source, and you may come to care for the folks in your group and work to be part of that group as best as you are able, so things can be fluid in how needs in this theory get met. And it still boils down to humans needing to fit somewhere with someone.
To me, first, we need to fit in with ourselves. Not as easy as it sounds as there is a lot of self-hate in the world. Heck, I have been there, and even after all the years of work the negative talk still surprises me and shows up on occasion. That doesn’t stop me and it should not stop you. Find out who you are and find your peace with it. And if you are in a situation where you are truly sorry, be damn clear and specific about what you are sorry for. Being sorry you hurt someone is healthy, being sorry for being you, is not healthy. Plus, if you are sorry to be you that means you feel like you can do better in yourself and you know you can change, that means there is work to be done so get up and do it and stop being sorry.
I challenge you to catch the next time you say sorry and think about why you said it – were you sorry? If so what for exactly? Or did you mean to apologize?