How To Keep Your Good Going.

How To Keep Your Good Going.

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About seven months ago, I wrote:

Well. We’re not there yet.

But it feels like our New Normal is close.

Can you feel it too?

And hopefully, it will be a New Normal that’s been needed for a good long time.

I believe in you. I believe in your heart, your determination, your strength, your power. And while that’s great, the thing I care the most about is that YOU believe in you.

The year is beginning to wrap up. This weekend there were celebrations of joy around the whole WORLD (which is pretty bananas when you stop to think about that. The whole world). And the phrase that keeps swirling around in my brain is:

NOW THE WORK BEGINS, BECAUSE NOW THE WORK CAN BEGIN.

Fighting for change is not easy. Working to implement change after fighting for it is a whole other kind of “challenging.”

Because no matter the change – in our relationships, in our body image, in our careers, in our self-worth, in our society – the real test comes when it’s time to build and then maintain what we’ve fought so long for.

The real test comes when it's time to build and then maintain what we've fought so long for. Click To Tweet

I’ve gotten caught in the trap of achievement-seeking before, and then totally botched the building and maintaining part. It feels productive and proactive in the moment to fight for a win but the real test is what you do with everything that comes after.

I know I don’t want to look back and just see dreams. I want to look back and see how I built them. I know I don’t want to look back and just see determination. I want to look back and see what I did with it, especially in the quiet moments when no one was watching.

I know it can be really overwhelming to begin to think about the “now-whats” of life, especially directly following mentally and emotionally tumultuous times. Definitely rest and recharge and practice the actual self-care that leads to relief and release.

And then after, consider visiting these thought starters to get your wheels turning about where to go from here. Because it’s clear our Old Normal wasn’t working, and it’s important we pivot instead of falling back into a way of life that wasn’t serving us:

  • What have you learned you can do without? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you learned you CAN’T do without? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you realized doesn’t matter all that much? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you realized DOES matter a great deal? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What are you most excited about right now when you look toward the future? Why? And, what will you do about it?

  • What have you fought for this year? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What will make this New Normal actually ✨NEW✨ for you? And, how will you make it happen yourself?


Let me know what you come up with in the comments. I’m always here.

Every batch of parents hopes their kids’ generation will “be the ones to change the world.” That’s all fine and feel-good. It’s important to keep hoping for better and better tomorrows.

And.

Don’t wait for another generation to come around.

Be the change you were born to be.

Right now.

I believe in you. And I hope you believe in you, too. 

I Am A Political Person.

I Am A Political Person.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I found something I wrote back in February 2016 the other day that began “I’m not a political person, but…”

Oof. Cringe-worthy.

I AM a political person. Always have been. We ALL are.

But I knew why I said that.

~

Never mind that everything after “but…” negated that statement. Claiming I “wasn’t a political person” was me basically opting out of any sort of conversation.

I was afraid of not having all the answers. I was afraid of being called out, or called in (oh the irony). I was afraid of social media backlash. And I was afraid of not being seen as understanding or empathetic.

Cringe.

The change started to happen sometime around summer 2016 (moving to NYC definitely played a part in this) and was really cemented on election night. I’d spent the day so giddily optimistic, walking around (in my white blazer and “H” shirt) with my friend Negin (in her Frida Kahlo as Rosie The Riveter shirt) marveling at the historic day we got to experience together. It felt like the celebration we’d waited our whole lives for.

Around 2am that following morning I began to realize how naive and empty my optimism had been. It was the realization that only “being political” when it felt convenient or safe to do so served literally no one – not even myself. That by not “being political” when it actually counted, I was in direct conflict with everything I SAID I believed and everything I SAID I was working toward. That “being political” only when I was surrounded by others who were “being political” wasn’t anything more than a feel-good moment for me myself & I.

I look back on that version of myself and I’m embarrassed. But I write all this to say that while it might be easy to look back on how you “once were” and overindulge your embarrassment:

 

THERE IS NO TIME TO GET CAUGHT UP IN EMBARRASSMENT.

 

I call my 2016 self in and hold her accountable for all she’s learned. I know she knows when and where she didn’t do enough and where she fucked up. And I know she knows that integrity isn’t just about morals and values – it’s about constantly assessing whether your intentions and impact are in alignment.

She knows that intent is not much if the impact doesn’t align. She knows that “but I meant this to be…” isn’t a valid argument.‬ ‪She knows that if you want something to have a certain effect and it doesn’t, and you’re not willing to change the action to get the intended impact, then it wasn’t ever really about the intention at all.‬

 

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I now know I’ll never have all the answers – there’s no way I can – and that in no way means I am exempt from speaking up and speaking out where my voice is useful. I now know we’re ALL political whether we “enjoy” talking about politics or not (bc politics isn’t a hobby, it’s a system that affects us all). I now know getting called IN/OUT is an opportunity to learn, grow, and change. I now know empathy needs a backbone and doesn’t excuse one damn thing or give anyone a free pass to be dangerous and destructive.

To be political is a freedom worth fighting for.

I am a political person. I no longer shy away from that.

We all are.

And no matter what happens from here on out: we are not done.

I am a political person. I no longer shy away from that. We all are. And no matter what happens from here on out: we are not done. Click To Tweet
Taking Your Self Off The Sidelines: Why Shifting Your Self-Talk Matters.

Taking Your Self Off The Sidelines: Why Shifting Your Self-Talk Matters.

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I first conceived of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk back in 2007. It was born out of my own personal pain, and my own simultaneous a-ha moments that a) conscious and unconscious negative self-talk was what held so many women back from the life they longed to lead, and b) people needed a place to go to empower themselves to shift their self-talk in a real, lasting way that went beyond momentary feel-good affirmations and mantras.

I wanted to create a multi-faceted platform that addressed all kinds of negative self-talk – self-talk related to body image, relationships, work, community, self-worth, the narratives that are passed down to us by the people before us, and the narratives that are passed around to us by the people who stand beside us today.

WANT has come a long way since 2007. It’s a movement. It’s an editorial platform, a podcast, workshops, toolkits, and a vibrant community on both social media and IRL. It’s let go of podcast sponsorships in favor of spotlighting and amplifying organizations doing work on the community and global level to advocate for change – both change in policy and change in paradigms. WANT has never been my passion project – it’s always been my purpose project. And with time, that purpose has only gotten clearer and stronger. Not only the purpose…but the urgency behind it.

For anyone new here, I wanted to write this primer on why shifting your self-talk matters. For anyone who’s been here for a while, I wanted to post this as a reminder of what we – all of us – stand for, and why the work we do is so, so worth it.

~

Over the last few years, I’ve rejected the idea that shifting your self-talk is a ‘self-help’ issue. Sure, there’s overlap. But shifting your self-talk, to me, is the very opposite of the good-vibe-ness that self-help and wellness have become notorious for in so much of mainstream self-help/wellness conversations.

Shifting your self-talk is so, so much more urgent than that.

 

The work of shifting your self-talk – which is really the work of finding, being, and staying your Self – isn’t just about changing your life, in the long run.

It’s about changing life. Period.


Shifting your self-talk is about facing your shame, guilt, doubt, fear, frustration, and blind spots head-on and being proactive, not reactive. What does that mean? It means using critical thinking skills to listen, learn, and act even (especially!) when the stakes are high and you might fuck up. Because as Maya Angelou said, when you know better, you do better…but if you aren’t putting yourself in a position to know better, you will never, ever do better.

Shifting your self-talk is about finding, using, and owning your own voice whether people are watching or not – so that when you get feedback from the world, explicitly (like via words) or otherwise (like via emotions), you’re able to grow, learn, and be better in a way that’s sustainable.

We need major policy changes and systemic paradigm shifts. We need police and criminal justice reform, we need legislation passed that protects Black communities, POC, LGBTQ+, women and girls, people with disabilities, and allows equity to everyone.

And.

We also need radical personal changes.

It’s not an either-or situation.

It’s an at-the-same-time one.

We need both simultaneously, because there is no way that fighting for and creating the proverbial “change we wish to see in the world” will ever be sustainable if we’re constantly offloading our ‘hard’ emotions off on others by using hateful words or inflicting harm (side note, it’s really easy to sit back and convince yourself you’re doing something to change when in fact all you’re doing is criticizing the ‘people in the arena’ actually taking those steps forward. See: entire premise of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly), or shaming ourselves into silence because we’re overwhelmed or too afraid to make a mistake.

We think a future version of our Self will know better. Be stronger. Speak louder. Or that one day, we’ll be successful or self-actualized ‘enough’ to say what we truly mean instead of what we think checks all the right boxes. The stakes are too high right now, we convince ourselves. I don’t know enough yet. Like once we achieve a very specific self-dictated level of success or expertise, the conversational doors will fly open. When that happens, we say, we’ll use our voice. We’ll talk about the things that matter. Systemic racism. Gender disparities. Wage gaps. Mental health. When, when, when.

 

Yet each time we say when, we not only put our Self on the sidelines, we delay the very progress we desire to contribute to. Each time we say when, we reinforce the narrative in our mind that the ‘right’ time is far off in the distance.


Imagine if everyone in the world waited until their own self-determined ‘day whens.’ We would never have any change or progress. We would spend our years waiting around and call that a life.

The world needs your voice, and the world needs your growth. It all stems from the story you tell yourself, about your Self. Click To Tweet

Society would love for you to keep telling yourself the story of your shame, your guilt, your self-doubt and your defeat.

Society would love for you to stay silent and small. It would love to keep steering you far from who you are and discouraging your growth.

But the world needs your voice, and the world needs your growth. It all stems from the story you tell yourself, about your Self.

Will shifting your self-talk alone change the world? Of course not. But we must treat it like the vital puzzle piece of change that it is. We must practice using our voice so that when the chance comes to make a change, we speak up and out instead of shying away. And because what we say on the outside is a direct reflection of what we say on the inside – we must practice diving in, digging deep, and changing our internal AND external world simultaneously.

Shifting your self-talk is an essential piece of fighting for the world you actually want to live in, for yourself and for others.

The when is now. The right time is now.

Take your Self off the sidelines. You are so ready to get into the arena.

 

What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood

What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

DEAR MOMS,

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Maybe it’s been forced or routine.

But this is a different kind of thank you.

An honest thank you, to all mothers, biological AND emotional, a thank you for everything you teach to those around you on a daily basis…whether you realize it or not.

 

me + my mom on my wedding day, 2017


TO ALL MOMS OUT THERE:

Everyone speaks of the sacrifices of motherhood, but in my eyes I have only seen freedom. Well, a different kind of freedom. Maybe not the freedom to jet off for a spontaneous weekend or sleep in ’til however long you’d like on the weekends, but an awareness and a courageousness that comes with being a mom – and that represents an incredibly unique type of freedom. Freedom of the heart to love as hard as it pleases, freedom of the spirit to dive into the kinds of big decisions that most only dip their toes into. It’s a kind of freedom that’s not often talked about amidst the hardships and challenges and struggles of motherhood, but it is a freedom that sets an example for the rest of us, a crash course in how to own your own unique brand of leadership. It’s a freedom to allow yourself to start with a fresh slate, to scrap everything you thought you knew, over and over again.

From the time you “get the news” all the way past when your grandchild is born, being a mother means being able to start over with renewed confidence and focus time and again. Most people stay in their bubble of comfort for far longer than it serves them, afraid to begin anew or open themselves up to life’s many shifts. While I’m not saying you’re never afraid (you’re only human!), you feel the fear and do it anyway. Thank you for constantly moving forward. Thank you for showing the rest of us what a different kind of freedom looks like.

 

 

TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO ARE MOMS:

Thank you for showing me what motherhood looks like from all angles. From you, I’ve learned that one style does not fit all, that there is really no “technique” that is fool-proof and no way that’s the right way. In observing you approach motherhood from your own angle, I’ve learned something way beyond what it means to be a mother – something bigger. I’ve learned what it means to attack life without being a carbon copy, about how to navigate life on your own terms.

I look upon you with awe as you make decisions for your family and yourself with such confidence, with such assuredness, because there are more important things that must be done than let uncertainty rule your day. I can sometimes sense a slight fear of not knowing what’s right, and when I’m lucky, you let me behind the curtain and share your uncertainties with us. Please know I will always, always listen. You consistently show me that the only “right” choices are those you make from your heart. Thank you for letting me in on your journey.

While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom… Click To Tweet


TO MY OWN MOM:

The thank-yous could pile up if I let them. Thank you for encouraging my creativity, thank you for being an open book, thank you for driving me around and reading to me from four books every night. But if I could thank you for one thing only, I would thank you for teaching me how to be a leader, both personally and professionally. You realize that relationships, just like anything else worthwhile, are work – and you put the care and effort in every single time. In your friendships, you’re happy going out on the town yet equally happy to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and storytelling. You’re one of those women that was born to be a mother, born to be a shoulder for everyone you love to lean on. And yet you never forget to take care of yourself. You’re not a pushover in the least, you’re not a people-pleaser. And yet you somehow know how to take care of everyone at once, including yourself. You know that you cannot love anyone else unless you love yourself first. Yes, there are times you complain about the lines around your eyes or the rogue grays at your roots, but every step you take is that of a woman who at her core absolutely loves who she is. You’re a presence – even when you’re not trying to be. Thank you for teaching me how to walk with that kind of confidence.


I’ve also learned about myself, my uniqueness, and in trying to emulate you in so many ways I’ve learned who it is I really am. I am silly, sometimes in the same way you are, sometimes in a way that’s completely my own. While you are the life of the party, I’m the person who sticks with one or two conversations all night. I laugh like you, I think, at the same things and with the same reckless abandon. I cry when I laugh, every time, which I know I inherited from you too (thank you for laughing so much). I’ve learned that although we joke and claim otherwise, you don’t know everything, and that you’re just as often wrong as you are right.

Because of that I’ve learned it’s okay not to have all the answers.

I’ve learned that there are lessons I am yet to learn, ones you’ve known for your whole life – and similarly, there are lessons I’ve got under my belt that you’re still figuring out. I don’t fault you for it, I love you more for it. I’m more like you, mom, than I’d sometimes like to admit – and less like you, mom, than you’d sometimes like to admit. It’s that fine balance of similarities and differences that is at the core of our relationship.

TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WILL CHOOSE NOT TO (OR CANNOT) HAVE CHILDREN AND STILL MOTHER:

I cannot say this any better than my mentor-from-afar Glennon Doyle:

“The old definition of mother: a woman who gives birth to a child, adopts a child or marries into a family – doesn’t ring true enough. I have stopped thinking of MOTHER as a fixed identity- something you are or you are not and more of an energy all of us have inside of us – that we are either unleashing or not.

Because don’t we all know mothers who have given birth to babies but never unleashed nurturing energy even for a moment? And don’t we know men and women and non-binary folks who have never given birth and who spend every single day unleashing creative nurturing energy that gives birth to beautiful new things and nurtures existing things? It strikes me that an out of proportion number of women who are mothering the world in HUMUNGOUS ways (Liz [Gilbert] and Oprah come to mind right away) are women who chose not to raise children on their own. Because they had wider mothering to do: they knew they were born to use their mothering energy less like a laser and more like a floodlight.

In Sue Monk Kidd’s breathtaking new book: The Book of Longings she suggests that maybe the question is not whether not you are a mother but WHAT WILL I MOTHER INTO THIS WORLD?

Watch her whole Morning Meeting on mothering here:

 

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A post shared by Glennon Doyle (@glennondoyle) on


 


We all have something to love, whether it be a child or pet or even a vase filled with flowers picked by hand at the Farmer’s Market.

While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom you feel when you make a decision and stick with it.

And one day, we can get to be that person for someone else, too. Maybe we are right now.


Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who possess and demonstrate motherhood on a daily basis – in your family and beyond. The kind of motherhood that knows no  the one that protects and loves in a way that’s uniquely your own, and teaches us all to do the same.

 


all wedding photos by krista ashley.


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a version of this originally appeared on the chalkboard mag.

6 Ways To Set Boundaries On Social Media (Without Disconnecting)

6 Ways To Set Boundaries On Social Media (Without Disconnecting)

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

I’m what’s considered an Older Millennial, which means I’m a part of the age group that both grew up with the internet and vividly remembers a time without it. I still remember the ancient dial-up chords of the Prodigy and America Online-era World Wide Web, the rush of excitement when you finally made it “online” (because that thing was SLOW), and the hope that someone wouldn’t pick up the landline, break your connection, and ruin it all. “Inbox Zero” wasn’t the badge of honor – a full inbox, however, was. Hearing the words You’ve Got Mail were like digitized music to your ears.

You had MAIL!!!

On your COMPUTER!!!

Ah, the olden days…

My family got America Online – or AOL for the kiddos reading – in 1997. Soon thereafter, my tweenage self found a special corner of the not-so-dark internet that seemed to be reserved especially for me: the musical theatre message boards. In each thread detailing touring companies of Les Misérables and each challenge asking your Top 25 cast albums, I found a community where I was able to be ME. Never once did I think twice about who I was talking to or the validity of the information shares – and I certainly didn’t ever consider that I could fabricate a personality online that was different from than who I was IRL. The outside world what where I pretended. This new, magical online space was where I could fully exhale and bring all of my nuances, quirks, and passions to the (pixelated) table.

One of my most vivid and impactful memories of the dawning of the internet is when my high school English teacher had to explicitly tell us that Wikipedia was not a reliable source to credit in research papers. WHAT?! There is stuff on the internet that isn’t true?! There are people who aren’t who they say they are?! Well geez. This takes the fun out of things. No more message boards, I guess.

The digital socialization that happened in the message boards and chat rooms of the late-’90s was the precursor to what we now know as social media. I remember MySpace, I remember Friendster. LiveJournal, anyone?

And then, the summer before my first year of college, I signed up to get an invite to an exclusive website connecting me to all my future classmates. It was called The Facebook.



The internet – and social media – have evolved a LOT since the 90s and early 2000s and the days of yore when Facebook had a THE before it and only allowed you to update your status in ways that completed the sentence “So-And-So is…” And with that evolution, we’ve had to reinvent what it means to be MINDFUL, over and over again.

Maybe you’re already mindful IRL. You’re present in your conversations, you live for the now, and you’re all about savoring the moment. Some might have trouble tuning into life when today’s technology provides such a fun distraction – but for you, the fun is right in front of you in real time.

But here’s the hard reality: social media, smartphones, and being in-somewhat-constant-contact are not the exception anymore, they’re the norm. Whereas outlets like Instagram and Twitter were once fun escapes, they’ve become a vital component of connection in the world we live. And while we’re not necessarily living for another moment because of social media…the moments we are living for are the same ones we’re expected to stop, drop, and document to keep our “brand” alive, both online and off.

Whether you’re looking to grow your business, or are the average social media user catching up on cute baby/puppy pics and posting funny memes, the social media overwhelm is REAL. So many people to keep up with! So much news being thrown at us! It’s almost too much to handle, especially if you’re the type of person who likes to savor the moment.

And then, enter the For-Now-Normal of the last few weeks. With so much on hold, it can seem like social media is one of the ONLY things that’s kept on chugging and churning as expected. Maybe your social media usage was mild or moderate before all this…but day by day, you’ve seen your screen time go up and felt your anxiety follow suit.

 

It’s not just that social media is a distraction – it’s that it makes us question how true our truths really are.

Just like a baby slowly learns that crying isn’t just a mode of calling for help but a surefire way to steal mom’s focus, social media can suck you in and make you feel as if every update, every post, every link and every Boost is a make-or-break scenario.

While I’m all about the power of a double-tap, it’s vital we learn to build healthy relationships and set boundaries on our smartphones. Here are six solid social media tips + strategies to follow (no pun intended) so you can have your life and post it, too.



6 Ways To Set Boundaries On Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS WHEN SCROLLING:


1. QUESTION NEWS SOURCES.

Many times we’ll see a headline, gasp, and share so someone else can share in our rage/elation. But how often do you look at the URL where it came from? Is this source credible? Is it from a viable news outlet, like the New York Times or CNN, or is it from a site called something like icantbelieveitsnotbetter.com ?? It’s called “click bait” for a reason: its main point is to lure you in so you will click and BITE.

You can usually see the news source in the link preview. Train yourself to look at THAT first – yes, even before thinking about the headline – then decide whether you’ll click and share. If it’s real news, there’s a good chance it’s being reported on a more credible news site where you can find real reporting – if it’s not, then it’s not worth reading anyway (no matter HOW much it’s playing to your emotions).

2. PRACTICE COMO: CELEBRATION OF MISSING OUT.

Feeling envy bubble up when you see someone else doing something you with YOU could do or have, too? True jealousy, by definition, is a reaction to the threat of LOSING something you have. Envy, however, arises when you find yourself LACKING something someone else has. (*If you’re unsure which is which,here’s a primer on distinguishing the two.)

If you find yourself being envious of someone else on social media, ask yourself what about that thing resonates the most. What is it you want? And then CELEBRATE it for the other person. When you choose to celebrate what you want, even when someone ELSE has it, the universe takes a little mental note that you know that opportunity isn’t a limited resource. If you see scarcity, you get scarcity. Only those who recognize that there’s space out there for them can actually FILL it. Plus, in the words of Call Your Girlfriend hosts Ann and Aminatou’s Shine Theory, I don’t shine if you don’t shine.

If it's not the kind of social interaction you'd want to have offline, then why are you having it online? Click To Tweet

3. ENGAGE WISELY.

It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason: it’s supposed to encourage us to be SOCIAL. Would you socialize with someone that made you feel icky? Differing opinions is different than downright bad vibes. Choose wisely what and who you engage with. Make sure your engagement does more good than harm. Basically: If it’s not the kind of social interaction you’d want to have offline, then why are you having it online?


SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS WHEN POSTING:

4. BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.

Posting reactively is the adult equivalent of the temper tantrum. We see or experience something and get so overworked and overwhelmed that we share something, ANYTHING, to let others know how we feel.

Before you lose your cool on the web, ask yourself if what you’re posting is the Communicative Quad-fecta: Kind, True, Helpful, and Necessary. If it’s not, then maybe give yourself a time-out (counting to 20 taking slow breaths helps) to refocus and regroup.

5. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.

Like, really, what you truly want to say. When you post a photo or update, what’s the overarching message you want to share with your followers? Do you want to share a snapshot of something you love, spread joy, inform others – or are you trying to keep up with other people’s posts, or use social media as your emotional dumping/venting ground? Do you want Likes and comments, or do you want to impart an actual, meaningful message? Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to social media.

A great picture or quote should support a main message or tell others about who you ARE, not steal the show and tell others what they AREN’T. Set a clear intention before you post, and be honest with yourself about WHY you are posting what you’re posting. And guess what? You DON’T have to keep up with the social media joneses and flood the feed. Authenticity in intention always trumps abundance in action.

6. SET IT AND FORGET IT.

After you’ve posted, let it be! It’s tempting to check your activity log every half-minute, refreshing the page to see if someone else has “Liked,” commented, or retweeted what you’ve shared. Not only is this a time-suck, it’s a strain on your emotions. If you don’t get a surge of attention within minutes, it can seem as if what you had to say or show was not a success, leading you to doubt your credibility, obsess over what you did right or wrong, and agonize over how you can tweak your strategy moving forward. It becomes an abusive relationship that makes you feel like crap.

To keep yourself in a proactive space, it’s vital to set boundaries with your social media. Make a pact with yourself to only check your various social media outlets for activity at specific, limited times throughout the day. Respond, comment, and strategize during these times and these times only, during quiet moments when your attention is not needed elsewhere. Take your pic, share your post, then go make your mark on the world – no filter necessary.

 


WANT Yourself:
Do you have any social media tips and tricks to help you stay sane WITHOUT disconnecting completely? Post in the comments and let us know!


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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