As recovering codependents and people-pleasers we’re often far too preoccupied with over-apologizing to everyone around us.
We never hesitate to apologize on behalf of others, for things that have nothing to do with us, or for things that other people did.
We get told often that we apologize way too much and that we should stop, and we respond with “sorry".
I will address what a true apology is and when it’s appropriate vs. when it’s not in a later post because I think it is important that we learn the difference, but today I want to focus on apologizing to ourselves.
Before we knew better (and sometimes still after we’ve learned), we spent years putting everyone else’s needs above our own, lying to ourselves about what we wanted or needed, downplaying our priorities for the comfort of others, and enduring mistreatment or abuse because we thought we “should”.
This created a relationship with ourselves that was full of mistrust, disappointment, resentment, and anger.
Even past childhood and into adulthood, we did not treat ourselves the way we wanted to/deserved to be treated: with respect, love, caring, compassion, and high regard. Instead we continued to treat ourselves the way we learned to treat ourselves by people who didn’t know how to treat us—with disrespect, blame, shame, judgment, and invalidation.
This old conditioning may have meant that we entered into and stayed in really unhealthy relationships, that we remained in jobs where we were unhappy or mistreated, that we told ourselves it was “no big deal“ and that we “should get over it“ whenever we felt sad or lonely or angry or scared, that we developed disordered patterns of eating or addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or shopping, or that we behaved in other ways ways that were not kind to ourselves. Sometimes we didn’t know better, and sometimes we did but we didn’t know how to live any other way.
We owe ourselves an apology for the things we did to ourselves before we knew better or before we were able to behave differently, and we owe ourselves all the forgiveness and compassion and love in the world, as well.
If there are things you would like an apology for (either from yourself or from someone else, even from god), write them down. If there are things that you know you have not yet forgiven yourself for, write those down, too. With each one, say":
“[your name], I am sorry for _________. I forgive you for ____________. I love you even though _________________. I love you especially because ________________.“
Repeat this process for every single thing on your list. No issue is too small to matter, and no issue is to large or complex to be left out of this process.
You are so brave, and so worthy of love and forgiveness from yourself above all else!