I’m very good at apologizing to others. So good, in fact, that I often apologize even for things that don’t require an apology or things that aren’t my fault. I’m guessing that you may be the same.
We offer others so many apologies: for things we do, for things we don’t do, for things they think we did or didn’t do. But what about yourself? Do you owe yourself an apology for the things you haven’t done for yourself or have done to yourself?
I woke up one day and realized that I owed myself a huge apology. Several, actually.
I needed to apologize to myself for all the bad relationships I’d stayed in even after realizing they were bad relationships with partners who weren’t right for me, toxic, or even abusive.
I owed myself an apology for all the negative self-talk constantly running through my head, the horrible things I said and thought about myself. For the way I chipped away at my confidence and self-esteem until there was pretty much nothing left of either of them.
I needed to apologize for clinging to every mistake I’d ever made, piling them up like rocks to throw at myself every time I made a new mistake. Reliving them every night as I’d lie in bed trying to sleep.
I deserved an apology for torturing myself in various ways, from unhealthy relationships to unhealthy eating and exercise habits to failing to set boundaries with bosses, clients, and even friends.
There were so many things I needed to apologize to myself for. Things I’d done, things I hadn’t done, things I’d let other people do to me or things I hadn’t allowed myself to expect from them.
What do you need to apologize for?
You may not have a long list of things that you owe yourself an apology for. But chances are there’s at least one thing you’ve done or not done that you do owe it to yourself to apologize for.
Not sure what it is? Try answering this question. What have you done, or not done, to yourself that you would apologize if you’d done (or not done) it to a friend? If you would apologize to a friend, colleague, spouse, child, parent, sibling, or even an enemy for doing something you’ve done to yourself, then you should apologize to yourself for it.
If the thought of saying or doing that thing to someone you care about, or even someone you don’t particularly like, makes you wince and feel awful, you should apologize for saying or doing it to yourself.
Why should you apologize to yourself?
When you say or do something that hurts someone you care about, you apologize. You do this because you feel bad and you want to mend your relationship with this person. You want to offer a balm to their hurt so they know you didn’t mean to hurt them and will try not to do it again.
And this also why you should apologize to yourself. You have a relationship with yourself just like you do with other people. But unlike relationships with other people, your relationship with yourself is the one that lasts for life — from birth to death, you are with yourself. No breaks, no divorces, no growing up and moving out. You’re there, side by side with yourself, forever.
When you damage that relationship with yourself, it’s just like damaging your relationship with others. You can start to feel resentful and bitter toward yourself. You can feel angry and hurt toward yourself. And this can make you treat yourself badly because you feel so negatively toward yourself.
By apologizing, just as you would with a friend, you tell yourself that you value yourself. You value the relationship with yourself. You know you’ve wronged yourself and you want to make it right. You don’t want to hurt yourself.
It allows you to forgive yourself. And when you can forgive yourself, you’ll be happier, healthier, and feel more aligned with yourself.
Give yourself that apology
If it feels too weird to you to look at yourself in the mirror, to say the words aloud, that’s okay. You don’t have to. You can write yourself a letter of apology. Make it a journal entry if you want. Or sit in meditation, reflect on the reasons for the apology, and use the apology to end your meditation.
It doesn’t really matter how you do it. But doing it will give you a sense of relief. Of release. By letting go of something that you might not have even fully recognized you were holding on to, you free yourself.
And you’ll feel so much better when you do.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
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