I am so tired of women apologizing. I see this all the time. Both with the clients that I work with and women I interact with in my day to day life. Women seem to be trained to feel responsible for everyone else. So many of us say “I’m sorry” unconsciously. We’ve been trained to apologize for existing, for someone else bumping into our space, for our life choices or other people being uncomfortable. I see women apologizing in so many ways. We say “sorry” unconsciously. We explain our life choices (whether we have kids, our career or job, if we’re in a relationship or not) as if we must apologize for whatever we’ve chosen. We literally try to shrink our bodies to take up less space. But what impact does all this apologizing have on women and our self-confidence?
As a therapist who specializes in working with women, and as a woman living in this culture I have seen the impact that this apologizing has on women. When we are constantly apologizing we can’t own our authentic choices and needs. This is what we call self-confidence. Self-confidence is an internal sense of I’m o.k. When we have self-confidence the approval of others might feel good but it’s not necessary. It doesn’t matter to me what you think about how I dress or my choice to have/not have children because I’m o.k. with my choices. By contrast, if I’m not clear about who I am or what’s important to me, your approval is super important. I might even feel like I must apologize if you don’t approve of me. When we have low self-confidence, other people approving of us makes us feel great. Other people disapproving us makes us feel horrible. Our self-confidence can go up and down in a day based on how others react to us.
The first step to re-building self-confidence is getting clear about our values (what’s important to you). We all have values but sometimes in life we get fuzzy & confused about what they are. If we don’t know what our values are its’ hard to feel like we matter in the world. Take a few minutes to jot down the things that are important to you. Do you value being a great friend, the kind who always listens? Are you an awesome cook? Or maybe you’re super proud of working your way through college. Whatever you have accomplished, want to accomplish or think is important, jot it down. The cool thing about values is that they belong just to you! You don’t need anybody else’s approval. No one else give you your values. They come from you!
Once you’ve identified your values you might notice yourself apologizing less. You have a place and purpose as a human existing on this planet. We can get out of touch with our values but we can always find our way back. You don’t have to apologize for what’s important to you. You don’t have to apologize for existing. You are a wonderful, purposeful being. No one else is you and you deserve to be #unaplogetic!