I am an apology-a-holic!
I would in the past, excuse myself, apologize and change my opinion if my opinion didn't suit the majority in almost all situations.
As children we are taught to apologize to people whom we have wronged, but sometimes I think it goes too far. A friend of mind described a situation where her son was asked to apologize for something he did to his uncle. Everyone was expecting an apology from the little boy who was obviously upset over the situation, no one was focused on the fact that the uncle (who I might add should know better) was behaving in a way that supported the boy's retaliation. Hmmmm. My friend stood her ground and did not pressure for an apology much to the criticism of her family. I applaud her!
When I think of all of the things I have apologized for in the past, it makes me cringe. All the times I would offer my opinion and then instantaneously take it back (or better yet not share my opinion at all). I've gone almost so far as to tell the entire world that I am nothing more than a brainless kook and that I am terribly sorry that I am occupying space here on earth.
Not too long ago, I dug out letters that my husband has kept from our dating years. I was 16 at the time, my parents were separating and I was the oldest which meant most of the time I was the one being blamed for their lives falling apart (truthfully, I was just the distraction, or surrogate for the blame and shame they felt for their own failings in their marriage, but that's a whole other blog post). Anyway, in each and every letter I am begging my now husband for forgiveness. For what? I haven't a clue. Probably because I ate the last chip (something I would definitely do!)
The point is that I can remember being apologetic all of my life! I can remember not offering an opinion because I knew the ramifications of that within my family.
This behaviour at 16 definitely continues to inhabit my life in the present moment. Little did I know at the time, but I was setting up a system where anything that happened, whether I did it or not, no matter how trivial, I would apologize, let my hubby or whoever else off the hook and continue along a path of self loathing, humiliation and guilt, kicking myself for doing whatever terrible thing I think I did.
I would beg him for forgiveness, sometimes offer some sort of sexual favour to seal the deal so that he wouldn't kick my sorry ass to the curb and promise to never do whatever it was I did again. I was never specific in my letters, I think subconsciously I felt a need to apologize for all that I was so that he would continue to love me and he would forgive me for being such a pathetic imp.
I was so desperate then, to have someone love me, that I would do anything to have it and keep it. I needed to feel wanted and loved, supported and protected. I never felt that growing up and so as I developed into a young woman I felt like I needed to do whatever it took to maintain what I had whenever I had it.
My husband is the most loving man on the planet, he probably didn't see a need for me to apologize, however on some level it made him feel superior and worthy and so the situation continued day after day.
We have now been married for 18 years. And I have come to a point in my life where I no longer feel the need to apologize for everything, which is an interesting turn of events in a household where I do all of the apologizing. It causes quite a stir I'll tell you. I take ownership when it feels right and is warranted of course, but the rest of the time it's a non issue and I have begun to recognize instances where I am put in a position where the other person wants me to apologize and there is pressure to do so, it is an uncomfortable place to be, which is great because somewhere in my being I am recognizing that it is not right to be pressured for an apology. It must come from the heart and not attached to a price tag.
Anyway, I guess what I'd like to say is I wish someone would have said to me in one of my apologizing for nothing moments "Apology not accepted. Because you have nothing to apologize for, you are simply perfect the way you are, you are not malice or manipulative, you live from your heart and that needs no apology EVER!"
Can you imagine saying that to your child the next time he/she spills a cup of milk all over the floor? Or when he/she brings home a grade lower than the one you were expecting.
In those moments, (and you know this because you were there once) they are feeling shame and guilt already, your expectations for them to apologize for their "mistakes" only exaggerate those feelings and cement them into the psyche so that they will last a lifetime longer than they need to.