For those who apologize often this is for you. The other day, I was feeling all sorts of guilt, and my initial reaction was to apologize. My knack for apologizing is like no other, and often it can become a default. Its so funny, because I write about this extensively in my book. You see, I find myself at times apologizing for things I have no business apologizing for....apologizing for my success, apologizing for others experience of that success, and apologizing for areas that are true invitations for another to consider for areas of growth in their own life. Now, I am not saying don't apologize to others, or that I am perfect, on the contrary, an apology done from a place of authenticity I find is one of the greatest acts of self love and a great liberator of shame and guilt. This is for those who listen to the voice in their head that says something is wrong with them, they are not enough, there is something that needs fixing; for those who have that song on constant repeat, this is an invitation to hit pause.
Growing up, I heard every negative statement you could think of, my father commented on my weight, made fun of my effeminate disposition, my high butt, my teeth, my weight, you name it, he critiqued. What that manifested into is a man who grew up addicted to fixing himself. I got braces, worked out, got three degrees, found 5 wonderful therapist along the way, and picked up a slew of self-help books....all in the quest to quench that inner voice that says I was not enough. At the same time, making myself wrong for everything. If you were upset, I must have done something wrong; if you had a bad day at work, it must have been about me, if my success caused you pain, it must have been about me. I apologized to everyone and for everything....-it was narcism on overload. What that lead to, was continual bouts of insecurity, and enabling others to continue paths of ineffective practices in their engagement with me and sometimes in their greater engagement with life.
Often I have been told, "Darren you are grown now, let go of what people said to you growing up." I share this as a counter argument. Michelle Obama (who I speak of often) grew up with two parents who said she was smart, beautiful, and had the power and possibility to do whatever she wanted in the world. Those investments lead to her going on to Princeton and then to Harvard. Now, in her early 50s if her mother one day says, "Michelle, you are stupid and a worthless woman" her response might be something like, "wow, my mom is trippin' and must be having a bad day" You see, she is easily able to dismiss it, because the imprint that was put on her spirit as a child in the Robinson household was that she was great, and that imprint can silence the negative just that quick. Conversely, someone like me who grew up with the most unloving of things said to about them has an imprint, that well, lets just say looks different. 5,000 people can speak to my greatness, my ability to inspire, and their delight in the things I have and continue to do, but the one who does not, becomes the one I Iisten to most, the achilles heel to my emotional and spiritual growth.
Now, I am not sharing this to garner sympathy, or shame those whose care I was under as a child. Today, I share it to offer how now as an adult, I am asked to engage differently. To not allow those feelings and inner voices to dictate my behavior, but to move in the truth of who I am (even when I don't fully believe it myself). When I know better, I do better, and now I do differently. I still get the stings of guilt, of shame, and the temptation to apologize: to control the situation, mediate the tension, and absolve others the opportunity to sit in their own mess. Yes, today I move with love, love for myself, to take responsibility when needed, and to sit in the discomfort of new practices when it is not. I, at the same time, love others by excusing myself from the opportunity to be their cup in which they pour their pain, low self worth, and hate into. Spring has spring, we know better, lets do better.