You may have heard of a “little” best seller called, Girl, Stop Apologizing (2019) by multi-media company founder, Rachel Hollis. I don’t’ know about you but I’ve read it three times now, going on four. Hollis, speaker, author, and inspiring human being, calls us to action when she says, “It’s time to be yourself, unapologetically, and to show the world what happens when a woman challenges herself for greatness. It’s time to stop apologizing for who you are.” (p. 210).
I took her message to heart and started making changes in my own life, busting through some limiting beliefs and deciding to further design my dreams. Then, I considered how her compelling message could be brought to young girls and their parents. Here it is: our girls need to stop saying, “I’m sorry” so they can start embracing all they are meant to be.
Spend any amount of time with a growing girl and you’ll know this: they apologize all the time. “Sorry, I corrected you”, “Sorry, I made a mistake”, or “Sorry I just offered a creative idea.” No! Girls need to stop the insanity of excessively apologizing for who they are and all they offer. I asked girls why they apologize so much and they explained that sometimes it’s habit, or to fill awkward pauses in conversation. Yet, a lot of the time it’s because they are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, disappointing people, or coming across as conceited.
Girls instinctively apologize for their voice, presence, ideas, opinions and dreams and this is troubling. Why? Because for every instant she says, “I am sorry” she is eroding her self-confidence and self-belief. Think about it: with each apology, she shrinks into herself and shies away from the power of her contribution. She is missing the opportunity to feel good about what she brings to the table.
Research tells us social media is damaging girls’ self-esteem. I’m not going to argue. Girls are constantly checking their feeds and feeling “not good enough” as they compare perfectly polished pictures with their own bodies and lives. Yet, I am going to argue that they are also damaging their own self-worth with their apologies. Can we all agree that’s it’s time to trade in her “I’m sorry’s” for some confidence boosters. Explain to her that when she apologizes and she hasn’t done anything wrong, she loses her inner strength and power. Conversely, when she apologizes when she is in the wrong, she gains power and feels empowered. When girls learn to withhold unnecessary apologies, they become more bold and brave. Isn’t this what all want? Here are three ways to do this:
Check yourself. I know I may sound like a broken record, but if you want your daughter to change in any way, you will need to ask yourself what you are modeling. If “I’m sorry” is your catch phrase, even when you have done nothing wrong, start by noticing. Ask yourself, “How often do I say I am sorry in a given day?” You may be shocked by your new awareness of how many times you utter these three words. Then, start to replace “I’m sorry…for asking for a favour” to a more assertive, “I have a favour to ask”. She is listening and she is learning and needs to see what “no apologizing” and “no limits” living looks like.
Notice her “I’m sorry’s”. Any time your daughter says she is sorry without reason, challenge her. Girls apologize to me all the time when I offer them treats. “I’m sorry, I took a cookie” to which I respond, “Why are you apologizing?” or “No need to apologize, how about we try again with something like – thank you for the cookie.” If she proffers an apology for her opinion, which, let’s face it, will inevitably be different from yours, respond with, “I appreciate your unique taste in music which we simply don’t share, but you do you.” This is not to say girls don’t need to apologize sometimes and be accountable for their words and actions such as when: they are late, forget to clean their room, or give us a sassy response. Notice when her apology is not warranted and help her see why.
Practice replacement phrases to cultivate her self-worth and replacement role models. I have three prompts I use a lot with girls to help them feel empowered: “I am…” (followed by a quality or value), “I can…” (followed by a talent or skill), and “I will…”(followed by a goal or commitment). These phrases subvert the apology and build her inner strength, from the inside out. At the same time, I am convinced that by giving girls positive examples of young women who are offering no apologies for who they are and the difference they want to make, we can reduce the negative impact of some of the social media influencers they are following. Point her towards powerhouses such as: Bethany Hamilton, Ally Raisman, Malala Yousafsai, Brie Larson, or Kharis Rogers who have overcome a shart attack, sexual assault, terrorism, and sexism, and racism.
Rachel Hollis offers no apologies for her hard work, passion and purpose, and success. I think that girls today and those supporting girls need to take a page out of Hollis’ book and stop apologizing to start believing and then becoming greater and greater every day.