Last week a friend of mine pointed out I need to stop apologizing so much. I sometimes joke that it’s a Canadian thing to do, and I can’t help myself as we’re just way too nice. While I think Canadians are nice people, I also think this is about more than just being nice.
I have an old habit of trying to fix things for people, for wanting them to feel better, and for taking ownership of their problems. The problem is when I make someone’s problem my own; I assume a burden each time. Over time these little burdens can build into something bigger.
Take, for example, the meeting I was starting to book last week which I had intended to book some time ago. I apologized for taking so long to get to it. If you’re wondering what’s so wrong about apologizing for this, it’s that I made myself wrong and created a burden for myself.
The truth is, this meeting has just not been a priority for me. If I had booked it sooner, I would have been approaching it from a mindset of obligation, which means my heart wouldn’t have been there and the outcome would be subpar.
This situation isn’t about the other people; rather this is about how I process and internalize it. I made myself wrong with this apology, which can bring with it feelings of guilt and failure. It might seem like a small thing in this case, but do this every day repeatedly, and it becomes quite the burden and feeds a larger story about how I should be. Trust me I know as I’ve been there, and continue to work on not owning other people’s stuff.
It all comes down to only owning what’s mine and letting you own what’s yours regardless of how uncomfortable one of us might be. This is what freedom looks like and is the source of great strength for both of us.
Thought for the week
Last week I listened to the book “The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. The book is very thought-provoking and got me thinking about all the places in my life I am trying to own stuff that’s not mine to own.
In many cases, the other person may not even know I’m doing it because it’s not about them. It’s about the burden I carry for trying to own it.
As you go through your week, notice all the places you are taking on a problem that isn’t yours to own. For me, a false apology is a sign I’m trying to own something that isn’t mine. Now, let it go. When you see it happening, stop yourself and don’t own it.
Real freedom and power does not come from fixing things for other people. It comes from experiencing life and growing from each experience no matter how uncomfortable that may be.
Here’s to life!