To apologize is to minimize
No, I’m not talking about when you have wronged someone. Of course appologies in that context are appropriate. They can be healing and help create (or, at least, restore) connection in a place where there has been a wound. What I’m talking about here is when we start off with an idea, or simply expressing ourselves, with an apology.
Better said, when I start off with an idea, or simply expressing myself.
I have a tendency to do this. I start emails to clients with language that subjugates my perspective to theirs. I start writing blog posts with language like, “I make no claim to perfection.” I trip over myself in conversation to try to ensure that I’m not coming across as, well, myself, I guess. What’s driving this? Well, my conscious mind tells me it’s about making space. Not wanting to be seen as soemthing that I’m not, and wanting to make sure that people don’t see me as being unconscious of what’s important to them. And I think there’s truth in this.
Yet, while there is truth in it, it’s distorted. It’s distorted because it’s not the full picture — the most authentic picture — of what is going on. I think. Here’s what I think is going on. By apologizing, I’m making myself smaller than I am. By apologizing, I’m trying to inch toward the back of the room. By apologizing, I’m minimilzing myself. I’m hiding. But what am I hiding from?
I’m hiding from rejection. I’m hiding from the possibility that I am too much — for this person. And I’m hiding from the thing that I think will get me hurt the most — my truth. I could do a deep dive here on how our truth, our light, our highest selves, is maybe the most dangerous part of us1, but I’ll save that for another time, maybe. What I know is that this is the part of me that is being pushed to the side when I apologize.
Which means what? It means that if I notice the apologietic language coming out, then I’m at the edge of a truth of some sort. I’m standing next to a possibility that may very well lead to an understanding of myself and a situation that wouldn’t be there if I let the pattern continue to run un-checked. In other words, it’s a beacon on the path. It lights the way to better understanding. This is the beauty of the things that hold us back the most. They’re telling us something. And you know what?
They aren’t one bit sorry.
It can at least seems that way to the part of us that remembers being wounded when the world didn’t like encountering that part of ourselves.↩