The Sorry Syndrome
Do you notice yourself hesitating in saying “no” to others, always wanting to help or feeling selfish when you don't?
Are you someone who apologizes for everything?
You’re always saying…
“Sorry I’m late.”
“Sorry I couldn’t get back to you sooner.”
“Sorry I didn’t have time to make dinner tonight.”
“Sorry it took so long to respond to that email.”
Does this pattern of constant apologies sound familiar to you? If you’ve been hanging around my blog and reading my articles, you’re likely one of these people (or at least used to be) because—surprise surprise—I used to be too and STILL have to remind myself to be constantly aware of falling back into this pattern.
Earlier this week, I was on a call with a client who had cancelled our previous coaching session because someone needed something from her. Predictably, she is used to saying “no” to herself so that she can say “yes” to others who are asking for her time and attention.
Oh, the irony! She hired a coach (me) to help her break up that false story that had her constantly serving others—without taking her own priorities and needs into account first—in order to prove her own worthiness because she didn’t believe in her own value without that validation of being needed.
Naturally, this pattern is THE obstacle that will continue getting in her way with coaching too, since this is where her breakthrough lies: In knowing that she is enough intrinsically, just as she is, and choosing to show up that way in her life. In stopping the pattern of having to get everything perfect, saying “yes” all the time, and allowing everyone to “need her.” In putting herself first by getting in touch with her own needs and honoring them.
Is this speaking to you yet?
Because it was sounding so familiar to me as I spoke with my client that morning…
…remembering all the times I went along with whatever my ex-boyfriend felt like doing in order to make him happy because I thought this would make me happy and make our relationship work.
…being THE go-to person for anyone who needed advice, a vent session, a shoulder to cry on, etc.
…going with the flow in group situations instead of expressing my opinion or owning up to that fact that I even had one.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with helping people. (I actually love helping others—helping empower my clients, boosting a friend’s confidence around an important decision—that brings me a lot of joy!)
But NOT when it’s at the expense of having needs that aren’t getting met and putting myself or yourself second.
Stop. Stop that pattern right now.
When you notice yourself hesitating in saying “no” to others, always wanting to help and feeling selfish when you don’t, saying sorry for every little thing…well, it’s probably more about YOU than you think it is.
Perhaps you feel resentful for how little time you have for yourself. Maybe you question why those closest to you only talk about themselves and never seem to ask how you are doing.
Here’s the thing: you set up your life (relationships, time, schedule, habits) to go this way. You are the one who keeps saying “yes” to new projects, the next staff member to manage, the next situation to get involved in.
You are getting some needs met by doing this (just not the ones you really want to have met).
The needs that are getting met in these situations are the ones that make you feel like you’re good enough and worthy enough of others’ love, attention and time.
Because on the deepest level, you are only willing to love yourself when you’re accomplishing, producing, excelling and gathering proof to fill that not-good-enough hole.
It’s an unwinnable game, my friend.
Take my client’s example. She is an incredible human being, an expert in her field, highly sought out worldwide for her area of expertise, supervisor to hundreds, and a senior manager of a renowned Fortune 500 company.
And she said these words to me on our coaching call:
“Cat, I feel like I’m trying to get into the member’s club and continue needing to work to maintain my status.”
If you’re still reading this blog, here’s what I have for you…
No one can give or take away your status but you.
No one can make you worthy or unworthy but you.
No one can make you good enough other than you.
And no one can love you more than you love yourself.
Loving yourself is your choice, and it will set you free.
This week when others make demands of your time, start by changing the way that you habitually respond.
• How about offering support within a boundary that you set because you love yourself that much (like for example, “Sure, I’d love to support you and I have 10 minutes.”)
• How about scheduling in time for yourself and honoring it as you would time with a client because you are just that important?
• How about saying no to others as an expression of self-love?
• How about using the word “no” as a complete sentence?
• How about not being willing to sacrifice your morning self-care rituals anymore simply because you are worthy of that much exquisite self-care?
• How about every time you say no to others, you say it with love rather than resentment?
Remember, you are lovingly responsible for having set up your life and relationships to go this way, and you are also lovingly responsible for changing it.
So, this week, how will you respond when others make demands that inhibit your responsibility to take care of your own needs first?