How many times have you said this, or some version of it, either out loud or in your head, in the past week? The past day? The past hour?
As women, we seem to apologize ALL THE TIME. And very often for things that are not our responsibility.
As I was walking my dog down the sidewalk the other day, I stooped down to pick up my dog’s…erm….doggie stuff…and as I did a man sped by me on a bicycle. I was taking up a good portion of the sidewalk, and the first thought in my head was “oh, sorry!” I had the immediate reaction that I was in the way, I was in the wrong, and I should apologize for taking up space. Almost as if I should apologize for existing in this man’s universe.
Then I paused. Wait a minute. I was on the sidewalk. As a pedestrian. If you know the regulations of bike riding, then you know that one is required to ride their bike on the road. Bikes are fast, I, with my two human legs, am much slower. I am allowed to be on the sidewalk. I am allowed to exist. And damn it, I am allowed to take up space. Why did I feel the need to apologize?
As women, we often take unnecessary responsibility for other people’s emotions, reactions, and expectations. We take on stuff that does not belong to us, and apologize for it. It is time to stop this.
Now I am not advocating for never saying “I’m sorry”. What I am suggesting is this: that it is high time that we get clear on what is our responsibility and what belongs to someone else.
And if it belongs to someone else, by all means DO NOT APOLOGIZE for it.
There is an evocative sketch by Amy Schumer where a panel of highly educated, successful women who all have major accomplishments on a grand scale continue to say sorry throughout the panel interview. They trip over themselves to apologize for things that need no apology or are not their responsibility. Finally, the sketch culminates in one woman getting bodily dismembered on the stage, and then apologizing for her wounds and the bloody mess she is making.
Yikes. We do this.
Today I invite you to gently begin to notice when you say “I’m sorry” and take a moment to pause. Check the situation out. Are you responsible for something? Did you do something that needs an apology? Or are you taking on the responsibility for something that is not yours?
Take the steps to free yourself from the “I’m sorrys”. Notice when you are apologizing for taking up space. Notice when you are apologizing for something that is not your responsibility. Notice when you are apologizing for someone else.
You are allowed to exist. You are allowed to take up space. You are allowed to let others hold the responsibility for their own stuff.
You are allowed to stop saying “I’m sorry.”
With love and imperfection,
Carissa Karner is a coach, licensed psychotherapist, speaker, and teacher who believes that all women have unbelievable power within them. She works with women to help them embrace their inner power, identify their magic, and learn practical skills so they can positively impact the world through a successful business.