The reincarnation of forced childhood apologies.

Sometimes I almost buy into the idea that I’m a real adult, until something completely embarrassing or humbling sets me back a few paces, and I realize there’s no leveling-off point for growing-up. It never ends. There’s always something more to learn, another skill to improve and a new way of approaching a problem. This is not my enlightened take on the journey of life…it’s just the realization that holy crap, I am a permanent work in progress; I may never get this all right.

Case in point: when things happen that give me this crappy feeling that doesn’t have a real name. This particular feeling is a combination of rage, sadness and sheepish defeat, and I’m convinced it’s the reincarnation of forced childhood apologies.

When the feeling sets in I flash back to being six years old, engaging in some sort of gladiator-like death match with my brother, until whichever parent lost the day’s coin toss would pry us apart and force us to apologize. Six-year-old me was an expert grudge holder and I often found the very idea of apologizing to be horrifying. Cue an extremely whiny rendition of, “But I’m not sorry.”

Today, I feel this way when I have to go against my natural instincts to appease a situation, usually at work. Depending on the specifics, the “right” thing to do is not what I want to do, nor how I instinctively would react, and it feels so uncomfortable to go along without making a stink.

The uncomfortable part of this used to be that I felt like I was compromising myself in the process, disregarding my morals and conceding my integrity to avoid a larger battle. But this process is a necessary evil in life, especially in working environments, and rarely has anything to do with me personally. I’ve decided to focus on the fact that the uncomfortable part is just the learning…and that even if I can’t cast the final vote on a decision or disagreement, handling it well is the real definition of being myself, regardless of the outcome.

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2 thoughts on “The reincarnation of forced childhood apologies.

  1. The older and wiser you get, the more things you’ll get right! But you’re correct…you never get it all right. And you’re right about occasionally compromising your values or saying you’re sorry when you really aren’t sorry – it gives you a yech feeling momentarily as you realize your uncomfortable action created a quiet peace and actually did prevent a bigger or longer lasting battle. This works in relationships too – not just at work!!

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