The other day, Happy suffered a disappointment.
“I am sorry, buddy,” I told him, and he looked at me confused.
“You don’t have to say you are sorry if you didn’t do anything wrong, Mama.” He instructed me.
Funny how my four year old is a little more adept at life lessons than I am sometimes.
You see, for a whole lotta years, I have been an apologist and, thus, a compromiser.
Before I really decided that I was just going to embrace authenticity, other people’s intentions for me be damned, I was a bit of a rampant apologist.
I was the person who compromised a whole lot in order to make other people happy. Oh, you want to have that for dinner, even though I don’t? Okay. Oh, you want to go see that movie even though the plot line repulses me a little, okay. I valued agreeability a lot. Agreeable had been a coping mechanism of mine for a long time (when you are agreeable, you don’t run into much conflict and if you have bad experiences with conflict, well, you kinda want to not run into it for awhile).
But in the last decade or so, I’ve been a little more skeptical about agreeability. I have set boundaries (boundaries that were uncomfortable to set) in various types of relationships. I have left a job that I loved because things were shifting and staying would have compromised my personal integrity. When we brought our baby boy home, being agreeable to all the requests– parties, overnight visit requests, can I hold him, change him, feed him– wouldn’t have been the best thing for his development and attachment and so BF and I let people know what was okay and what wasn’t. And so I am not nearly as agreeable (read: doormatish) as I once was. Except, of course, in the places where I am.
Cause I am here to tell you that it takes a long time to grow out of such a nasty habit as agreeability (and let me stress that there is nothing wrong with being a pleasant person. I hope, believe that I am still very pleasant. What I am trying not be every minute of every day is so darn agreeable that I am self-sacrificing over and over again, until my life is comprised of not what I want anymore but of what others want. Got me?). It occurred to me recently that for the all times that I compromise about something, it really hasn’t worked. Because here’s the thing: the other person whose made the request that fully clashes with my own intentions and hopes? That person isn’t usually (EVER) as into agreeability as I am. And so I compromise my stance in order to make nice. But then that person, who doesn’t fully get his or her way, isn’t satisfied anyway. He or she is just pissed or resentful because he/she didn’t get what was wanted. That’s the thing about my agreeability. I try to make someone else happy but, usually, it fails because I can’t give them everything. So then that person isn’t happy because he/she didn’t get what was wanted, and I am not happy either because, yet again, I have sacrificed something that REALLY mattered to me to please someone who is unplease-able.
So I have decided that I am just going to break up with agreeability when it’s not from an authentic place and instead is from a “I don’t want to have a difference of opinion” place. And I am going to take my four year old’s advice and not apologize about what is true for me. I am officially calling it the no apologies tour. Want to hit the road with me?
For what are you no longer going to issue apologies? What pleasantries are you going to release in order to more authentically be yourself? How can you get started?