Sunday, May 23, 2010

No apologies, no excuses

The past two weekends I've had unusual conversations with near strangers. Two different people (both happened to be younger men which may or may not be relevant) told me that I should stop apologizing for myself so much. Hmmm. I kind of knew I had this problem - it's been mentioned before. But instead of getting better it has apparently gotten worse because it's now obvious enough that people who have just met me think it's worth mentioning. Hmmm again. (I have to say that both of these guys were very sweet and truly were trying to help me. They weren't being mean or anything and I totally appreciate their willingness to be honest with me about their perceptions.)

I could give you a bunch of reasons why I apologize a lot. But it would really sound like I’m making excuses. And I would be, sort of. I first started over-apologizing because I felt like I had no choice. Now that I actually have a choice, why am I still doing it? Habit. It’s a really bad habit. But it must also be doing something for me or I would stop at this point. I mean, it’s embarrassing to have people tell me to stop it. I know that it’s self-defeating and I think that's exactly the "benefit" I get from it.

If I put myself out there and fail, that would hurt. But if I only kind of, sort of put myself out there but tell people upfront how lame I am anyway and THEN I fail, it won’t hurt as much. Because I've already prepared myself to fail. If I make excuses upfront, I also don't have to worry that people think I'm full of myself. I don't want people to think that I think that I'm better than I really am. I want to make people feel comfortable with me. I don't want people to feel threatened by me. I've been told that I can be . . . overwhelming (mostly by men which may or may not be relevant). (And just where do I get off trying to control how other people feel about me. Hmmm yet again. But I think that's something to consider in another post.)

One of the worst things about this habit is that if I do happen to succeed even though I wasn't doing my best, then I don’t give myself any credit for succeeding. I chalk it up to being lucky. So even if I win, I lose. And that sucks.

Now that I know why I do it, how do I stop? I've taken the first step – recognized and accepted that I have a problem. Like any other bad habit, it will take some amount of willpower to stop. The problem is that I've never been known for my willpower. Basically, I don’t like being told I can’t do something – even if that something is a self-defeating behavior. I hate when people say this but seriously, I need to put on my big girl pants and get over it. It’s one thing to rebel against my parents and a controlling husband. But to rebel against myself with something that’s in my own best interest? Ridiculous already.

So . . .
Step one: Recognize the problem. (Check.)
Step two: Grow up. Stop apologizing and stop making excuses. (Working on it.)
Step three: Be kind to myself when I fall off the no apologies/no excuses wagon. (That I think I can do.)

Are you holding yourself back in some way? What do you get out of holding yourself back? What do you do to get out of your own way? I'm wide open to suggestions!

(By the way, I want to mention that LaVonne Ellis over at The Complete Flake helped me get this post done without really meaning to. First she wrote an awesome post about how we resist going for our dreams. And then she told me that if I want to write, I really should try writing at least 2500 words every day. So I started today (2513 words!) and this post was born as part of that. Thanks LaVonne!)
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