One of the things I hear most often from clients are apologies- not for anything they’ve actually done wrong, but for their feelings, or stating their feelings, or cursing, or adults disagreeing with their parents (whom I’ve never met) and apologizing for having a different perspective… and it always confounds me. Here’s how these statements sound, and what’s typically going on in my head as I hear them:
I’m sorry- I know I’m supposed to love my stepkid, but I just don’t. (You don’t have to… it may or may not come later, and that’s okay! I’ll help you learn how to navigate those relationships.)
When my boss said that to me, I just wanted to punch her in the face- sorry! (I kinda want to punch her in the face too...that was really out of pocket!)
I walked in and he had his hand up her shirt and I was like, “WHAT THE FUCK!” Ooops- sorry! (I was thinking WTF too- I just can’t say it!)
I know my mom means well, but I’m sorry- I just don’t want little Johnny sitting in front of the TV like that! (This is your child. You have the right to parent him the way you think best- and you don’t owe anyone any explanations for that!)
I know my friend was trying to encourage me, and I feel bad for feeling this way and I’m sorry- but telling me “you can always try again” just doesn’t make me feel any better. Am I being petty? (Oh, no… that was not helpful. Not at all. Way to completely dismiss her feelings, bff!)
It confounds me because they feel the need to apologize for their very valid, human feelings! I recognize that these might not be *popular* opinions, and a lot of people might have a problem with them- but therapy is the ONE place where you really can say whatever you want, without judgment. Granted- as therapists, we may challenge you (that’s what you pay us for) and you might not like the way that feels, but you can certainly speak your truth, whatever that is, and not feel sorry for your feelings. You are entitled to feel however you want. This is a safe space!
So the next time you feel an “I’m sorry” coming on, know that you don’t have to apologize for your feelings- not to me. Be as real as you can- for that’s the path to healing!
Have you struggled with owning your feelings- even the hard or messy ones? Comment below and share your best tips for owning your feelings!