The Single State Of Mind.

The Single State Of Mind.

Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

For most of my partnered-up adult life, Valentine’s Day was a bit like prom: lots of hype, tons of expectation, and kind of a let down when it finally arrived. They felt extravagant or forced, like some sort of obligation I was supposed to be totally into but was only kind-of-sort-of invested in. Basically, the exact opposite of what all those cards and Sex & The City episodes told me February 14th should be like.

In contrast, my single-gal Valentine’s Days were a blast and a half. In high school I spent my freshman and sophomore years with red on my lips and hearts drawn on my fingernails (in black polish, but I digress), passing out glittery stickers and love notes to my friends between classes. My freshman year of college, my mom sent a basket of cookies and mini-muffins to my dorm, and later that evening we all went out to dinner at a janky strip-mall sushi place where the lighting was harsh and the laughter was plenty.

As relationships came and went, a small part of me felt a little bit bummed that my Valentine’s Days had fallen prey to romantic involvement instead of a fun time with my single friends and family.

But wait…that’s backwards, right?

 


We give a big heap of power to romantic relationships in our culture. So much power, in fact, that it can seem like our romantic relationships shouldn’t just dictate our overall happiness, but dictate our sense of self-worth. “Are you seeing anyone?” has become an oft-used tentpole in the basecamp of banal conversation, and way too often a single gal (or guy, or human, because the urge to matchmake transcends gender) is viewed as ripe to be paired off.

And then. Even when we’re IN relationships, the question isn’t so much about the whos and whys but the whats and whens. Pop songs, movies, TV shows, and magazines tell us that being coupled is a means to an end, and there’s always a new end to strive toward.

We’ve all heard the cliché that “you need to love yourself before you can love others.” But it’s also true that loving yourself should never, ever, ever be about laying the groundwork for someone else to come and swoop in. Being single isn’t about not having a partner – it’s about learning how to be your own best teammate. And that state of mind will follow you throughout your entire life, no matter who else comes into the picture.

Just like being “taken” doesn’t mean you’re someone else’s property, being single doesn’t mean you’re up for grabs. The difference involves another person, but the common commitment should always involve the one you have to yourself.

Little disclaimer: I know couples who have been together since they were 16. My grandparents, aka living breathing heart-eye emojis, were high school sweethearts (granted, they each got married, then divorced, then found each other again later in life – so technically, they had a big old break in the middle of their romance, but still). There are a good number of couples out there who found their “person” early on in life and have created loving, open, equal partnership that’s lasted them a lifetime. And that’s beautiful.

But for most of us, that’s not the case. We experience a multitude of romantic relationships in our lives – both brief and prolonged – and therefore have a plethora of opportunities to check in and evaluate who we are when we’re going solo. Not all of us take these opportunities, but they are always there.

Without prolonged periods of time to ourselves – whether that be months or years – how can we ever develop that deep sense of self-knowledge that fuels our dreams? How can we hone the craft of fine-tuning our intuition and gut feelings so that no matter who or what comes along, we’re able to stay true to who we are at our core? By casting aside those moments, we’re sending ourselves the subconscious message that who we are alone is not enough.

Being single isn’t a relationship status, it’s a mindset. We each get to choose what that mindset means to us.

What kind of stuff does the word “single” bring up for you? Is it along the lines of unlovable, incomplete, alone? Or rather, is it a sense of freedom, bravery, and fearless independence? The way we view our single self is ultimately how we will view our coupled self – in both our highest highs and our lowest lows. What a blessing it is to be able to experience both of these emotional extremes on our own, so that when another person comes along (if we should be open to them coming along, of course), we know for a fact that our love comes from a place of want, not need. We know that we want their love in order to enhance our life… not that we need their love in order to define it.

So, spoiler alert… I’m not single any more. And I haven’t been for a few years now. Bigger spoiler, I’m married. I know, I know… what kind of business do I have writing about singledom, then? A lot. Because even though my husband most certainly has enhanced my ME-ness more than I can even express, he is NOT my crutch.

I had a long (5 years!) time before he came along to solidify my relationship with myself, so everything he has to offer is the best-ever cherry on top. It was in that period of time that I committed over and over again to the most important relationship in my life – my relationship with myself – and I didn’t let myself off the accountability hook once.


These last few years have been the first time I’ve actually enjoyed Valentines Days – and it’s not because I’ve found “my person.” It’s because my Valentine’s Days have morphed back into what they were in the past: a day to celebrate love of all kinds. I wear red lipstick because I want to, I spend time with my friends because I love to, I call my mom and pass out stickers because it makes me happy. Sometimes I go out to a fancy dinner with Jeremy, sometimes we watch Friends reruns in our pajamas at 5 p.m, sometimes we’re not even together so I send him carrot cake in his hotel room and I go out with a friend or spend the night in.

But no matter what, I make sure to reflect on how wonderful it feels to live my life on my own terms, and how grateful I am for that time I had sans partnership to figure out what those terms actually meant to me without the influence of someone else.

It’s a liberating feeling when you realize that the one constant in your life – yourself – is someone you’ve grown to love more than you though was possible. Click To Tweet

Your “single” years are precious. You have your entire life to be surrounded by other people in whatever capacity you choose, whether a lasting romance or a fleeting fling. A Single State Of Mind will serve you no matter who enters or exits your path. Friends and lovers will come and go. It’s a liberating feeling when you realize that the one constant in your life – yourself – is someone you’ve grown to love more than you though was possible. And that that person is not going away no matter what.

 

 

7 Programs + Courses To Do In 2020 For People Who Love Goals (But Hate Diet Culture + The Patriarchy)

7 Programs + Courses To Do In 2020 For People Who Love Goals (But Hate Diet Culture + The Patriarchy)

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

Got “New Year, New You”-itis? The amount of course, programs, and 10-day-whatevers that launch in the new year are way too many to count – and, of course, because our culture is designed to make money off of diet culture and a patriarchy that’s centered around whiteness and privilege, the demeaning language and weight-loss-wonder stories are thrown in our faces.

But not ALL programs that launch at the top of the year are bad and UGH-worthy. And some of us – MANY of us – need the structure and guidance these programs offer to ensure we not only create beneficial habits and practices, but keep them long after a singular goal is reached.

If you love reaching your goals and feeling structured but are vehemently against giving diet culture and racist, patriarchal practices your dollar bills, here are seven programs – focusing on everything from health and happiness, to fitness and values, to career and anti-racism and well beyond – to actually make 2020 your best year yet in a sea of best-years-yet to come:

 

IF YOU WANT TO (PHYSICALLY) FEEL GOOD:
4 Weeks To Wellness by Phoebe Lapine

An important note from Katie: This is quite possibly one of the ONLY courses that uses the word “detox” (more on that later) that I actually endorse. There is NO SHAME in wanting to feel good, period – but during this time of year, companies and coaches will VERY often lean on scare tactics or sneaky diet culture rules that reinforce a good vs. bad mentality.

4W2W teaches you how to commit to new habits while being gentler with yourself at the same time. Her course covers vice detox (without asking you to spend anything on powders or “cleanses” or even really focus on food that much at all), green beauty, hydration, stress management, sleep hygiene and SO much more. If you have thyroid issues or IBS, you should also know that Phoebe is the resident expert for Hashimotos and SIBO – she’s dealt with both herself and the 4W2W program usually attracts a lot of SIBO Amigos / Hashi Posse members.”

Sign up and use the code WANT when you’re asked how you heard about them!
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IF YOU WANT TO DEFINE AND ALIGN WITH YOUR HIGHEST VALUES:
Ascend Virtual Worksop on 1/25 by Rachel Cargle

A refreshing shift from resolutions, get in alignment around what truly matters within your unique life experience and explore how you can show up for those values in everyday life. Rachel will guide you toward developing a reflective and insightful beginning-of-year map that will connect you with your highest values and the sweet, soft versions of ourselves that deserve priority in the new decade.”

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IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPIER ALL-AROUND:
Seven Weeks To Bliss by Jacki Carr and Mary Beth LaRue

Seven Weeks to Bliss is an online course created by Mary Beth LaRue and Jacki Carr to share tools to connect you to your unique and self-defined bliss. Each week, dive into a theme that explores a new bliss tool. Inspired by our energy centers, week one is ROOT, week two is EMBODY, week three is CREATE, week four js (SELF) LOVE, week five is SPEAK, week six is SEE and week seven is TRUST.”

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IF YOU WANT TO FIGHT FOR A MORE JUST, NON-RACIST WORLD:
The Journey To Allyship by Catriceology 

“So you’ve realized that as a white woman you’ve got some work to do personally and socially to confront racism and you desire to use your voice for racial justice. That’s fantastic! The goal of this program is to provide you with valuable lessons and tools to move through the process of reckoning with your racism and reconstructing a new way of thinking, being and engaging as a socially conscious, anti-racist woman. You will be stretched you out of your comfort zone of silence, shame, and stagnation to eliminate complicity and complacency with white supremacy.”

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IF YOU’RE GOING THROUGH A MAJOR LIFE TRANSITION:
Embrace Chance on Aaptiv with Nicole Sciacca

Embrace Change is a 21 day program created by Nicoles Sciacca to be a resource to you as you embark on any life changes. This program provides meditations, yoga classes, and best practices on how to embrace and implement change in your life the right way. Change is inevitable and uncomfortable and incessant, so we might as well start taking an honest look at how we respond to it.”

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(not on Aaptiv? Use code KATIE30 for a whopping 30% off your annual membership)


IF YOU WANT TO PITCH YOURSELF/PRODUCT ONLINE BUT NETWORKING GIVES YOU HIVES:
The Art Of Digital Outreach with Selena Vidya

Build relationships online and grow visibility for your business or project. Through this course, you’ll Learn different strategies and tactics from someone who has experience executing outreach for Fortune 500 companies, and her own projects, build a niche and targeted list to reach out to that align with your brand/product/service, and improve your outreach success rate so you can generate links and mentions for your brand, product or service, which in turn can help SEO and general visibility.”

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IF YOU WANT TO BUILD CONFIDENCE AND CALL YOURSELF A RUNNER:
Walk To Run With Confidence on Aaptiv with Katie Horwitch

No quotes on this one…because it’s MINE! I created WTRWC because I believe in the power of combining the physical, mental, and emotional. To make progress in any aspect of life, fitness or otherwise, we’ve got to shift the way we speak to ourselves. Your mind isn’t separate from your body – it’s a PART of it. And when you make mindset shifts, the physical ones follow. I created this program for anyone who wants to get out of their own way and build up the confidence to embody what it means to be a RUNNER.

You can expect 12 classes that progress in intensity and duration (think 2-3 minutes more each class, and one small speed progression strategically peppered in at a time), and each class has a motivational or mindset theme that builds on the last – making this a true mind-body experience.

By the time you finish this entire program, you’ll feel confident calling yourself a RUNNER, regardless of numbers or metrics. You’ll walk (or jog or run!) away speaking kindly to yourself, celebrating your strengths, and tapping into a new level of self-love for your body, mind, and spirit.

SIGN UP
(not on Aaptiv? Use code KATIE30 for a whopping 30% off your annual membership)

 


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*this post contains select affiliate links for products or services i would endorse anyway, for which i may receive a small commission.

Let It Go: The Most Productive Formula For Your New Year’s Resolutions.

Let It Go: The Most Productive Formula For Your New Year’s Resolutions.

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Shift Of Power Tips + Tools Work

Doesn’t it sound sexy to say what you’re “leaving behind” in the new year? To make a list of what you’re going to stop doing in 2020?

I know it does. I’ve done that before: written down the things I’m leaving behind, burned them in a fireplace, the whole dramatic deal.

But it’s not that simple. We‘re all human – living not just our high highs and low lows but a whole full spectrum of experience every day. Change is never as easy as leaving something behind and never looking back. Even amongst the most “enlightened” of us, it’s very likely we’ll inevitably be confronted with or fall back into an old pattern we thought we were done with. Best case scenario, we learn to mindfully navigate the situation and pattern differently each time around. But even so – it’s a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of deal. Practice makes progress, not perfect.

What’s more likely is what happens to 80% of us: we take that one step back and shame ourselves into submission. When we live in extremes, we don’t leave room for the in-betweens, the lessons learned in those tougher moments. We tell ourselves we’re “so bad,” we messed up, we’re a failure, we can’t do this, and so on and so forth blah blah blah. The moment we create ultimatums in our minds is the moment we set ourselves up for shame and self-doubt in the long run.

In my own work and life, I talk a lot about LETTING GO instead of LEAVING BEHIND. Feels more like accountability to me. Controlling what you can and only what *you* can. Recognizing that something can (and probably will) pop back into your life but you get to choose whether you pick it up or not.

When I coach people to let go of something – a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to frame it so that they’re letting go of it in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC.

Because the thing is: the second you STOP, QUIT, or LEAVE BEHIND…what’s gonna fill that space? If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, you’re going to end up right back where you began with what you’re fighting against…at the most basic level, if only because it’s familiar.

Try this way more productive formula throughout the year, but especially now as you reflect and project in Resolution Mode:

I am letting go of ((how something affects you or why you do what you do)), so I can ((what that thing holds you back from doing)).

Examples…

    • INSTEAD OF “I will stop putting others before myself.”
    • TRY “I will let go of my need to please others, so I can make room for myself.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I am leaving behind toxic people.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of excusing bad behavior at my own expense, so I can live out MY journey exactly as it’s intended to unfold.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I will quit negative self-talk.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of my limiting beliefs, so that I can feel confident and grounded.”

Notice this formula doesn’t say you will always do or feel or be that thing you say you’ve been held back from doing/feeling/being. Just like there’s no ultimatums for the negatives, there’s no ultimatums for the positives. The point is to make space and define what you want that space to hold. Not to always make room for yourself, or live out your own journey, or feel confident and grounded, or whatever you created space for. But to state clearly: this is what I want, this is what I’m willing to fight for.

Burn your regrets in the fireplace if you want. Make a dramatic statement if it feels good. But make sure you do this, too. Just know that you’re a person in progress – and your life will be one long loop of letting things go and picking things up along the way. You might not get to choose what enters your world, but you sure as hell can choose what you do with it.


WANT Yourself: 
Now you: What are you letting go of, and what are you making space for?

 

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Opportunity Seizing (or, Consistency Is A Trap.)

Opportunity Seizing (or, Consistency Is A Trap.)

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

Are you sick of the end-of-year scare tactics yet? I sure am.

You know the ones. Even if you don’t KNOW you know the ones…you know them.

“Make this last month of the DECADE count!”

“Only a few more weeks left in the YEAR!”

“Don’t waste the last few days of 2019!”

If seeing and hearing these phrases stress you out, congrats. They’re meant to stress you out.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who confided in me that she’s going through it. That “IT” so many of us are going through this time of year, that’s compounded and magnified by the stressy “MAKE THE LAST DAYS OF THE DECADE COUNT” memes. 

She doesn’t feel inspired, she feels ungrounded, her routines are all over the place. She’s feeling guilty and rushed, like she’s lost her magic spark and might not ever get it back again. She hasn’t kept up with a few business things and hasn’t figured out her winter self-care. She feels all over the place and scared she won’t find herself again after this storm settles…IF it settles.

And so I texted her this:

“Consistency” can be great. It can also be a trap. Time is a construct. Time was created to give us measurements and structure – which make us feel a sense of order in an otherwise chaotic world.

But if we rely on structure TOO heavily, we start to lose our sense of independence. If we rely on timing, consistency, schedule, and routines to keep us in control, what happens when LIFE happens – when those things are upended?

A question:

If I told you that the new year/decade actually began YESTERDAY instead of today, would that change how you did things?

If I told you that you actually had 28 months instead of 28 DAYS left in 2019, how would you spend your time?

The choices you make today won’t be remembered in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years from now as the choices you made to “make the most of the end of the year.”

The choices you make today – if they’re important and brave enough choices, which can range from sending that tough email to taking a FULL rest day (not hour! day!) to FULLY reset – will be choices you remember as seized opportunities.

Because here’s the thing.

When you ask the universe for patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness, it doesn’t give you patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness.

It gives you OPPORTUNITIES to be patient, strong, brave, and fearless.

When you ask the universe for patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness, it doesn’t give you patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness. It gives you OPPORTUNITIES to be patient, strong, brave, and fearless. Click To Tweet

When we’re caught up in timelines and structure and routines, we run the risk of missing those opportunities. We start to act out of fear of “losing ourselves,” when in reality it usually takes a break in routine and consistency for us to really find ourselves.

As this year/decade comes to a close, I challenge you to look at each day as its own experience. It’s not simply “the X-to-last day of the year.” It’s its own living, breathing, morphing organism. It lives on its own AND as a mini-chapter in the macro-story around you.

Screw marrying yourself to a timeline or consistency for consistency’s sake. There are opportunities every single day for you to seize to help you be the you you know you’re meant to be. They might live inside your routine or timelines…they might not. 

All that matters is that you stay on the lookout.

 

Gym Face: Skin Shame In The Fitness Industry

Gym Face: Skin Shame In The Fitness Industry

Body Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

There aren’t many more powerful places to shift people’s perceptions of their physicality than in the gym. It’s part of the reason fitness was so appealing to me when I first got started. I could give a shit about how many lunges you can do or if you can do them at all. I give lots of shits about your self-image.

As a leader in the space, it’s part of my job to model to you what’s called “good form.” Sure, this means I can show you how to do that proper lunge I don’t give a shit about. But more importantly, it also means I carry myself in a way I hope you’ll carry yourself too. With pride, empathy, and awareness – right down to the skin you’re in.

~

When I started teaching fitness classes, I was ashamed of my skin. I saw the people I admired in the industry in ads, on television, in magazines, and on social media, and I felt as if I didn’t look the part. I didn’t feel like I had the ideal body, the coolest clothes…and I most certainly did NOT have that silky-smooth skin I thought everyone else had.

And so I not only doubled down on my product use, I wore makeup to class to cover up my perceived flaws. Spoiler, wearing makeup while you sweat is a recipe for clogged pores and very unhappy skin. So obviously, it just got worse. Not to mention, I was a broke 20something to begin with, and trying to fix my insecurities just made me broker. I felt shame around my skin, I felt shame around the bank account I mismanaged in order to try and pay for the products I used to un-shame myself from my skin. There are a lot of myths around being “someone from Los Angeles”…but I can tell you the stereotype of aspirational skincare is very real. Not only could I not keep up with the facials, peels, and products I believed I needed, but I felt like a fitness industry failure for not looking like the perfect version of health.

It wasn’t until I read Adina Grigore’s book, Skin Cleanse, that I realized that the perfect skin is the skin you’re in. I’d been overloading my system with SO many products over the years and had been wearing so much foundation and concealer to literally mask my insecurities, that I didn’t even know what my skin’s natural M.O. was.

The second I stopped piling on the products and stopped wearing makeup to teach is the second I really truly found my voice and stepped up my game in the fitness world. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’d like to think it had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t covering anything up anymore, literally and figuratively.

 

The perfect skin is the skin you’re in. Click To Tweet

 

I often think about the rise of body positivity in the fitness industry. Yes, it’s FAR from perfect, but it’s gotten so much better than when I started teaching over a decade ago. Body positivity is the norm not the exception, and the idea of working out for happiness, energy, and mental health is becoming way more mainstream. 

But just like anything we spend our dollars on, fitness is an industry. An industry that all too often banks on us feeling bad in order to sell us feeling good.

I wonder, with the skincare industry being as huge as it is, and apps like FaceTune and Photoshop being as accessible and easy to use as they are…will the shape of our skin be the thing the industry banks on in order to keep us coming back?

Will “Perfect Skin” become the new “Perfect Body”?

Is Skin Positivity one of the final sneaky Body Positivity frontiers out there – too subtle to be addressed but obvious enough to make us feel badly about ourselves on the regular?

I don’t have control over an entire industry, but I have control over what I do on my own platforms, literal and figurative. I no longer wear any makeup to teach my classes or to workout on my own. I’m older now, so I’ve got a few fine lines and eye circles and hyperpigmentation.

But if I’m not accepting of myself, in the skin I’m in, how can I ever expect anyone else to be? I’m not in love with my skin all of the time, but I’m too committed to modeling “good form” to let it distract me.

If you’d have told teenage-me I’d willingly get in front of hundreds of people a week with a spotlight on my naked face, I would have shuddered. If you’d have told 14 year-old me I’d be spotlighted on The Cut (bare-faced, in a VIDEO) talking about my skin, I would have straight-up laughed in your face. But I’m so grateful to know my classes and managers don’t care, and so grateful to know there are highly visible pop-culture publications just as dedicated as I am to busting open the myth that the way your skin looks is some sort of indication of how fit you are.


Skin Shame and Skincare Privilege is a real thing – but I’m here to tell you that you do NOT need to spend a ton of money or have airbrushed-flawless skin to glow from the inside out.
Take off the foundation. Let your pores breathe as deep as you breathe during a breathless push or a spinal twist. Model good form. Let’s break the skin shame together.

 

How To Actually Apologize (from a Highly Sensitive Person + Chronic Over-Apologizer)

How To Actually Apologize (from a Highly Sensitive Person + Chronic Over-Apologizer)

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

You’ve heard it thrice already before breakfast.

In line for coffee.

When you hold the door.

An arm brushes against you unexpectedly at work. The yogi next to you scoots their mat a few inches to the right to make space. It’s a crowded class and knocks your elbow.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m so. so. sorry.

~

We live in a culture of over-apologizers. Sorry Not Sorry is a cute hashtag and a catchy Demi Lovato bop, but its resonance comes from a very real and very not-cute place: we’ve engrained Sorry so deeply into our vernacular that rebelling against it feels electric, almost dangerous. “Sorry” is a part of who we are.

The problem with over-apologizing isn’t just that it cuts away at our self-respect – how can we respect our own opinions if we’re constantly apologizing for them? – it’s also that an abundance of apologies makes us like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Or rather, the Girl Who Cried SORRY. You remember the story: there’s this kid. He’s watching some sheep. He thinks it’s HILARIOUS to yell, over and over, that there’s a wolf. The villagers rush out each time, terrified, only to be met by the little twerp laughing at them.

Of course, when a wolf finally DOES show up and he calls for help, no one believes him. Can you blame them?

 

If we’re known as a constant sorry-sayer, it doesn’t matter how genuinely sorry we are or how terrible we feel – our sorrys are not trustworthy and are deemed inauthentic. “Sorry” has become cheap, and is way too often associated with weakness or being a pushover.


But sometimes you screw up – majorly. Maybe it’s a missed deadline. Maybe you forget about important plans. Maybe you sleep through your alarm clock or lose a pair of borrowed earrings or think it’s Sunday when it’s actually Monday. Or maybe it’s worse.

Whatever the case, you’re deeply sorry – yet don’t know how to accurately portray how sincere you really are without coming across as flippant, disingenuous, or just another sorry-monster.

How can we respect our own opinions if we're constantly apologizing for them? Click To Tweet

Saying “sorry” can be a way of protecting yourself from hurt (ie: “if I say sorry first, then maybe they’ll pity or empathize with me”) or clinging to relationships (ie: “if I say sorry, then they know they have the power”) instead of really, truly, feeling regret or sorrow over something you said or did.

But what about those times when you actually are sorry?

The most sensitive and aware of us are usually the ones that mistakes hit hardest. I highly doubt it’s just me that can/will dwell over a misspoken word or even a tone of voice that might have been “taken the wrong way.” I’ll dwell for days. Weeks. I mean, there are things I said or did in fifth grade I still stress over.

A sample from my collection of thoughts I’ve gathered over the years: Do they hate me? Will I get fired? Will he break up with me? Is my reputation dead? Should I just quit everything and start fresh where no one knows me? 

The act of saying “sorry” holds a lot more weight than others may realize – especially for you, you Sensitive Soul. The trick is to subtly shift the way you apologize and be the slow-yet-steady change you wish to see in the world (because change and mistakes go hand-in-hand).

Shift the way you apologize, and be the slow-yet-steady change you wish to see in the world - because change and mistakes go hand-in-hand. Click To Tweet

Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to how to say sorry, for those of us who get hit the deepest by our own mistakes and want to make our apologies last longer than just five little letters:

FESS UP COMPLETELY.

When we’re in the wrong, it’s tempting to lean on stories, excuses, or even little white lies in hopes of getting us in the clear quicker. However legitimate (or convincing, in the case of little white lies) your story, you’ve gotta face the facts. The act has already been done, the opportunity has been lost, and you just might have let someone down. An explanation might be necessary, but not if it’s in hopes of defending yourself. An explanation and an excuse are two very different things. Fess up completely, and explain whatever you need to in order to support your apology, not ask for a free pass.

As for the “omission of truths?” I’ve found that white lies can be habit-forming, or just icky. Little white lies are like plaque on your soul, and can (and will) build up inside you. Over time, they morph into a weighty guilt that is way harder to shake than telling the truth ever would be.

GO FOR QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY.

When you’re truly sorry for something you did, the best thing to do first is accept full responsibility – but keep it concise. Long, drawn-out apologies can seem inauthentic and water down your true intentions. Side note, they can make you seem weak, which you’re not. Acknowledge your faux pas, acknowledge the fact that you fell below your usual standards for yourself, then turn your focus onto the other person (friend, boss, lover, whoever). Look the other person in the eye and listen to all they have to say. Prepare to be met with at least a little bit of anger, frustration, or sadness. You might get a lecture and your impulse might be to go into defense mode. But being fully present, fully accepting of both the other person’s perceptions and emotions, as well as your own inherently beautifully flawed humanity, is one of the noblest, strongest things you can do to move forward in an effective way.

OFFER YOUR SERVICE.

Are you able to fix the situation? Get on it. Ask if there is anything you can do to help the situation – and offer clear-cut suggestions to prove you’re not just asking because you think you should. Is there something you can replace? Go find it. Is there an additional apology you can make to someone else? Go make it. Is there an errand you can run or a call you can make, or something unrelated yet needed that the other person values? Figure out what it is and make it happen. Being of service after a screw-up not only helps others feel good again, it helps you feel useful and proactive instead of ashamed and defeated.

MAKE A PREVENTION PLAN.

Ever heard that hindsight comes right after you need it most? Not necessarily. Forgive yourself first and foremost, then take at least one active step to prevent your mistake from happening again. Find yourself sleeping through your alarm when you’ve had a long day/week/month? Schedule a free wake-up call online. Work mostly off of memory or your phone’s calendar? Maybe an old-school, handheld Day Planner is what will help you stay organized (I personally need to take this advice – something about pen-to-paper keeps me on track like no app ever could). Did your mistake involve more of a slip of the tongue or an offensive remark? Start practicing extreme compassion and empathy in every single one of your interactions throughout the day. Constantly ask yourself what would make you feel good, how you would want to be treated, how you would want someone to breach a difficult topic to you. Basically, be the kindest, most thoughtful person you know.

 

The way you’re wired might be different than others, but the simple act of exercising empathy on a day-to-day basis could be the thing that saves you from a major misstep in the future. And if it doesn’t? You know what to do to make your apology count.

 


WANT Yourself:
In the comments below, tell me about a time you made a mistake and had to apologize. What did you do to mend the situation or relationship? What was the lesson you learned as a result? Has it shaped the way you do things today?


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a version of this post originally appeared on the chalkboard mag in 2014