Sorry, but I am not sorry.
Can I just say we start our kids off on the wrong foot sometimes. We start our kids down the path of untruths fairly early. 'Go on, tell him you're sorry for taking his toy.' 'Apologize to your brother right now for hitting him.' 'Tell your grandma you are sorry for coloring on her walls.' 'Aren't you sorry that you didn't share your treat with your friend?' Wait, are they REALLY sorry for their actions? I don't think so. So why are we encouraging our kids to be untrue to their real feelings? And is this the start of encouraging them to discredit their true feelings, to 'make nice?'
I know what a real apology looks like: A REAL apology has three things: An expression of regret, personal responsibility, and a sincere desire to right the wrong, anything else is garbage. ‘Sorry’ is not - or should not be - an excuse, or a reflex. A real apology should be merited and given in a heart-felt manner. When we apologize for things that are A) not our fault, B) of no wrong-doing, C) offend no one, and D) of no real relevance to anyone, we are diluting any well-intended effects of our words.
I currently live in what appears to be the capital of apologizers. This country is full of people who apologizes for when I do something wrong, and has nothing to do with them. They apologize when I drop things, or mistake something or say something wrong. The emphasis is more on being polite or avoiding scrutiny than it is to actually excuse oneself after having done something wrong. The people in this country, like what we are trying to teach our kids with their insincere apologies, have learned that what people want to hear is that they have done no wrong ... except at what cost? Shouldn’t we save the ‘I’m sorry’ for when we really mean it? Shouldn’t we say I’m sorry when we’ve really offended or hurt someone? When we’ve hurt someone’s feelings or made a mistake?
Women - and girls - tend to apologize more often than men. Women also tend to not exhibit behaviors that are considered ‘overly direct’ or ‘bossy’ because these are not behaviors that are appreciated in women. Instead, we are the ‘gentle’ sex, and are creating versions of ourselves by teaching these same behaviors to our girls. How about, instead, we encourage our girls to be more direct, and to speak up for themselves? How about we help our girls develop their confidence and speaking abilities to be firm yet fair, kind but direct, and non-apologetic? How about we encourage our girls to grow up to be advocates and authentic and not adversarial? How about we applaud our girls for caring about what others think and feel, and know that being empathetic is a good thing?
You know what? I’m not sorry. I am not going to excuse myself when I have something to say, and I haven’t interrupted anything or anybody. I am not going to apologize for having an opinion different from someone else. I am not going to apologize when someone else does something wrong or doesn’t understand what I say or do. I am going to know what I have to say is a contribution and not an imposition. I am going to up my bar for what actually does need to be apologized for, and I am certain I will still be able to be cognizant of other’s Emotional experiences. I know I am not perfect, and i know I make mistakes. I know I’m not always in agreement with everyone, and I know I might say something that is not in line with the predominant opinion. I know, too, that what I think, say, and do matters. And because of that I am not sorry. And I am okay with that.