Have you ever found yourself saying one of these two things?
‘Please, can you…’
‘I’m really sorry, but….’
Chances are you use please and sorry throughout your day without a second thought. And I’m going to make the assumption that it’s because you have a kind heart and don’t want to hurt the people around you, so I guess that’s kind of a good thing.
Here’s what I’ve realized about myself though… 98-99% of the time when I use please or sorry, it doesn’t actually feel good for me. It’s accompanied by some sort of guilt telling me the story that I am doing wrong by the other person, even when I haven’t actually done anything wrong.
‘Please’ and ‘sorry’ has become my way of softening a blow that doesn’t actually need softening.
And what makes it even worse, is that somewhere inside of me I know I can do better. I’ve succumbed to other’s expectations and let ‘please’ and ‘sorry’ become a socially acceptable cop-out to me fully expressing my feelings, my needs, my wants, and my desires.
Which piles on more guilt on top of the guilt.
Here’s what I’ve learned about guilt.
Toxic guilt is like a fraternal twin to my toxic shame. It tries to tell me that anything I choose or do for me, is a selfish act at somebody else’s expense, and that I shouldn’t feel, want, need, or desire that thing in the first place. (That’s where shame chimes in… who am I to have those needs in the first place!?)
Healthy guilt is different. It reminds me of my 13 year-old self who gets her social studies exam back and looks at the answers she got wrong and thinks, ‘Duh! I knew the answer was choice A! Why did I pick choice B? I must have had a brain-fart.’
Healthy guilt is like a breath of fresh air, allowing me to be human, and love myself for my human mistakes anyway.
So recently, I’ve decided that the only time I am going to say ‘sorry’ and apologize for myself is when I actually do something wrong. And not wrong by someone else’s standards, but wrong by objective standards of love.
Did I make the choice out of some sort of fear or darkness within myself? Then yes, I will apologize, even if you don’t even feel hurt. But because I know within me I was out of integrity with my desire to make choices and act with love, I want to say sorry.
As in, ‘Babe, I want to let you know I’ve been silently sabotaging our dreams because I’ve been so caught up in my fear of failing, that I haven’t been giving you and our life projects the best part of me. I am so sorry. That is not who or how I want to be.’
But when I make the choice out of some sort of version of love for myself, for you, or for mankind? Then I’ve stopped apologizing, even if you are in visible pain.
Because I have abdicated myself from being responsible for how you feel; and trying to save you with a ‘sorry’, doesn’t do either of us any good.
Empathy? Yes. Sorry? Not so much.
As in, ‘I can tell that you’re upset. Can we talk about it? I’d like to understand how you’re feeling so I can be with you and have a better idea of what you want to be different in our relationship.’
And the same goes for please. I’ve been a people-pleaser all my life and I’m tired of it. I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one.
‘Please, pass the peas.’ ‘Please, can you send me the attachment?’ ‘Please, can we go out for dinner on Saturday night?’
Seriously? Why don’t we say things like this:
‘Omg those peas look amazing! I’m so glad you made them tonight! Can you send some my way?’
‘I know you meant to send me the file and are probably swamped. I need it for a 9am meeting tomorrow morning. Can you send it once you get this?’
‘You know babe, I am really in the mood for a night off from cooking and would love to go out to eat on Saturday. What do you think?’
Did you know that the origins of the word please are the same origins of the word ‘placate’? Placate, as in ‘To make someone less angry or hostile.’
When I learned this, it stopped me in my tracks.
Why would I want to subconsciously live my adult life in the fear that my requests are going to make someone else angry or hostile towards me?
Frankly, I don’t. And yet I have.
And perhaps I had a good reason, and perhaps your experiences have taught you that expressing yourself and your desires fully, is not safe and will incur the wrath of someone else, if not God.
But let’s take a stand for not letting our past history define our future story.
Wouldn’t it be nice to stand tall with both feet planted on the ground, and be able to ask for what we want or need, share our heart and soul’s desires with passion, and encourage and empower others to take action, without watering it down due to trying to manage someone else’s feeling, trying to be nice and satisfy someone else’s wishes, or asking people to do you a favour.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our relationships were open and honest and vulnerable and trusting enough where we could be OK with not having to agree about every single choice or preference or opinion. For it to be OK to have different things in life turn us on, and still support each other in living as our truest self?
That really would be nice and I’d rather experience that niceness than keep trying to be nice. And while it might seem like a utopian dream, I think it’s possible.
Because when you pause in life and slow down long enough to connect with what you are feeling, needing, sensing, and desiring, you are then prepared to share that part of you with someone else.
And if you are connected to those parts of you, you can more easily connect to the similar parts of someone else and practice empathy… put yourself in their shoes, even if they are not comfortable for you. And once you’ve worn their shoes, you are in a much better position to build a bridge, even when you are standing really far apart.
Dropping the ‘sorry’ and the ‘please’ has been a gift to myself.
It’s made me use my words and find my voice.
I feel more connected to me, more confident and more empowered. My hope is you experience the same.
Your invitation this month is to practice the pause. Notice any time to are about to say, or actually do say ‘sorry’, or ‘please’, and check-in…
- Are those words really necessary?
- Did you really do something that is not in alignment with who you want to be?
- Is there an opportunity to more clearly share a part of yourself…. Your feelings, your wants, your likes, your dislikes, and desires?
- Could you invite the other person to connect to that part of themselves and then see what happens within your relationship. Perhaps it becomes something you can’t explain.
Try it out, and see what happens.
And as you use new words and find your voice, I encourage you to water those seeds by using your voice and sharing your heart with others. Start with this message… How could you pass it on to someone you love and care for, in a way that is a true expression of you?
Make a pact with your clients or friends: No apologizing allowed! Create some music or art. Share this blog post and add in your own words on how it’s touched you.
Let’s see more of you shine through.