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Stop Apologizing for the Things You've Never Done

Monday, July 02, 2012


This picture is actually from April. These were apology flowers from gal who, while walking past my house, decided to pick one of my irises (thereby harming the plant) and take it home with her. I had caught her, told her that the flower actually belongs to someone, etc. She came around a few hours later with flowers. Which was, all told, rather nice of her (and my husband and I accepted her apology). A lot of people would have just blown off the crazy woman and walked a different way for a few months, hoping that said crazy woman did not have a shotgun and/or a long memory.

I have the latter, not the former.

Anyway - I keep seeing this, over and over again, all over the place, and not just on Spark.

Sorry I can't hang out, I have to run. Sorry I'm not eating your dessert. Sorry I'm not drinking with you. Sorry I'm not just gonna watch TV. Sorry I'm not who you thought I was before. Sorry I'm not maintaining how big I am, and am striving to get better.

Egad, when did we become such an apologetic culture?

Sure, we are trying to be kind and polite and all of that. And we all have to live here in the world. And if apologizing makes it possible for us to get out and run, or pass on that piece of pie, or decline the alcohol or whatever, then perhaps we should do that.

It's whatever it takes, right?


Wellllll, .... kinda.

See, I think when you apologize that much, and you hide behind it and you make excuses and you sort of giggle without conviction and minimize it - "Oh, this old thing in a size 6?" or "Oh, I ran a 5K, but it's really not a big thing." or "Yes, I drink a lot of water but boy do I pay for it!" or "I cook most of my meals, but it's really because I'm watching my pennies or my husband likes it or I like to stay in (as opposed to: I'm doing this because it's healthier)" or "I strength train but, really, I'm no body builder" - EGAD - WHAT ARE YA DOIN' TO YOURSELF?

You are putting yourself down.

You are minimizing your efforts.

You are putting something else in front of what you need to do.

You aren't believing in it.

You aren't invested in it fully.

And it's easy to look at it and think, "This isn't normal living. Normal living is hanging around and watching TV and having beer instead of water when out and good Lord who runs 5Ks?" and "I can't wait to be done with all of this calorie counting, strength training, water drinking, cooking, exercising business so I can return to my couch and my Doritos!"

But this is a seductive lie.

It's just like the fake apology.

You have lied to others that you are sorry, or that it's not a big deal.


It *IS* a big deal.

It is the BIGGEST deal ever, for you.

Quit acting like it's nothing, like it's no biggie. Even if you've gotten used to it, don't forget how much effort was required to go beyond the initial inertia. How tough it was to roll that boulder up the hill for the first time.

I am not saying that you suddenly become rude to people. I am not suggesting that an occasional little white lie is out of the question, 24/7/365, when sometimes it just smooths the way and gets you where you need to go. I am not saying that you need to become arrogant and selfish.

What I am saying, instead is - people admire you for what you're doing. Say "Thank you." Not "Oh, it's no big deal."

Because it IS a big deal.

And when they say, "Do you want pie?" Your answer is, "No, thank you." It's not a litany of excuses. It is not apologies. It is three little words. No more!

And when they say, "Oh, you run 5Ks?" Your answer is, "Yes, do you want to join me?" or "Yes, they're fun." or "Yes, my next one is in two weeks." or "Once I've completely rehabbed my knee, I'll get back to them." It is not, "Oh, well, it's nothing compared to marathoners." It is less than what marathoners do; that much is true. But don't diminish it. Don't say it's nothing. It is NOT nothing.

And when they say, "Why aren't you drinking tonight?" Your answer is, "I'm the designated driver." or "Too many carbs. Maybe next time, when I've got space in my eating plan." or "I'm happy having water tonight." It isn't "Oh, that looks good. But I'm being a martyr and missing out." 'Cause yanno something? That beer tastes like the beer you had last week or last month or last year. They don't go around changing the formula or anything.

And there's a thousand other scenarios but the bottom line is - you are doing SOMETHING. And you are doing something BIG. Don't tamp it down and hide it in a small box and pretend it's tiny and insignificant.

And for God's sake, don't be sorry about it.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD3528530
    I. LOVE. IT. Man, I am so behind on your blogs, to MY Loss. I always do the blog thing en masse 'cause I'm so lackadaisical about checking on them each day (or each week, even) and then I run around and grab 'em all at once. LOL But you are 100% right, I need to take a clue. I've spent going on 59 years doing nothing BUT apologizing and minimizing. Really trying to stop that now, sometimes I do better than others but at least I'm making a li'l bit o' progress. Thank you for posting this!
    3053 days ago
    PREACH IT! I SO loved this and need to practice it!
    3054 days ago
    "I have the latter, not the former." LOL. You go girl! And what an EXCELLENT blog. I agree with the sentiment. It really is something I had to teach myself, but not apologizing one's life away is a lesson well worth learning.

    I am glad that girl did the "right" thing, by holding herself accountable. I also love that you called her out.

    Go on with your feisty self :)

    3070 days ago
    Love it!!! Great blog...Life is good, I so needed to hear this..
    3073 days ago
    It's a slippery slope down and before long I know I can get so ENTRENCHED in that negative self-talk and forget all about how to put myself up front and center! It all starts with those little put-downs like your examples. It's tricky to catch ourselves and make some changes in this kind of talk, but we all are SO WORTH IT! :-)

    3074 days ago
    So true. I do tend to apologize a lot. I hate to hurt people's feelings and I don't take compliments well. Good blog, and reminds me I have things to work on.
    3074 days ago
    Wow! Jespah this was wonderful. I feel I need to print it out and hang it on my refrigerator, my wall at work, and keep a copy in my pocketbook!!
    You are a fabulous writer!!

    And of course, your Boston is magnificent!!
    3075 days ago
    Whew. You are so right. And when I think about it apologizing like this is wierd. Common, but wierd.
    3075 days ago
    Thanks Jes. This is a really good point. I especially like your point about how apologizing and minimizing accomplishments is some how linked to the idea that eventually you go back to what is "normal" for everyone else. Seductive lies indeed.
    3075 days ago
    I'm not there yet, but I'm getting better about being proud of my accomplishments and not being afraid or ashamed to put my needs first. For example, I don't have to eat a special treat that someone spontaneously decides to bring to work. And, furthermore, I don't have to apologise or make excuses for my decision. I didn't ASK them to bring in a special treat, right?

    As usual, well written, JES!
    3075 days ago
    One thing I've noticed is that people who get trampled on apologize a lot because they don't want to accidentally cause harm to anyone else. Whereas those who do the trampling will not apologize because they think they're better and entitled. It's a difference of sympathy and empathy versus disillusioned egotistical people.

    Those of us who apologize in all the ways you stated, or are like me and apologize when others hurt us because we don't want them to feel bad, we need to learn more self-worth and be proud of our accomplishments.
    3075 days ago
    AWESOME blog! I do this stuff all the time. You are so right!
    3076 days ago
  • ANNE1123
    Very well put! Thanks for the blog post and the dog pictures are adorable!
    3076 days ago
    I'm SO tired of the look on people's faces when I tell them that I'm not drinking because there are too many calories. I'd rather eat food, k? That, and the assumption that I can't possibly have as good a time if I'm not drinking too. Someone has to make sure every one gets home in one piece. LOL
    3076 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10795864
    A very thoughtful blog.

    Here in Canada, we do apologize a lot. Heck, if someone accidently jostles us, we apoloigize to them!

    I do find that as I am further along in my healthy journey (and older, hey, you do get some leeway for what you say when you are getting older, yes?) that I am not arrogant or forceful, but I tell the truth.

    If someome offers me the old high calorie high fat treat at work, I will say no thanks, I cannot maintain the weight I am at now if I eat that kind of food. And I do talk about my exercising, often putting it in a humorous context--hey, if I can walk, or lift weights, so can you.

    But managing others' expectations is sometimes difficult and I think you have got the right attitude!

    3076 days ago
    Guilty as charged, to all of it -- to the Seductive Lie, to minimizing accomplishments. Hell, I was nearly too embarrassed to tell my 35-mile-a-week runner SIL that I'd started running because I can "only" run 4-minutes intervals right now. Like that somehow makes me less of a "real" runner.

    I think that this faux modesty is bred into us as women, and as fat people, with the understanding that we are somehow, by definition, "less than" -- and it's hard to break out of that mold.

    It takes a conscious effort to stop apologizing for our own existences -- because make no mistake, that's what we're doing whether we realize it or not.

    The world is *not* owed an apology for the fact that we continue to breathe and thrive and walk the earth. Quite often, it's the other way around.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking blog, Jes!
    3076 days ago
    Another awesome blog! I'm going to take your advice this weekend. Greg and I are going to PTown and I'm going to see my bff. I haven't seen him in over a year. When/if he compliments me on my weight loss, I won't say , "Thanks but I'm still obese." like I was planning. I'll just say "thanks" and I won't minimize my efforts because it's been damn hard to drop 57 pounds even if I am still obese!
    3076 days ago
    Always good blogs emoticon
    3076 days ago
    I think women are more prone to this than men - and yes, we tend to belittle our own accomplishments, tho I dunno whether it's from a somewhat-misguided sense of humility ('It's not polite to brag') or because we figure it's better if we do it ourselves before someone else takes the wind out of our sails ('You ran a 5K? Oh, wait'll you do a full marathon - I've run three this year... so far... I remember when I was a newbie like you...').
    p.s. And it occurs to me - I do feel apologetic about the things I've never done: I've never learned to swim... never run a marathon... never worn a size 6... never gotten a degree... well, you get the idea, lol!
    3076 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/2/2012 10:51:47 AM
    True, true, true. I'm sorry I'm not being more articulate ... emoticon
    3076 days ago
  • VICKI2705
    Well said.
    3076 days ago
    I so agree. I must admit that I am an apology person. I learned it as a child..and I continue to do it as an adult. I apologize for breathing it seems sometimes.

    I certainly need to realize that I don't owe anyone an apology for taking care of myself!
    3076 days ago
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