Wit and wisdom from a horse #6

“Don’t apologize (or if you’re an apology addict, do it less)”

If you’ve ever studied or even watched horse behavior, you would notice that they never apologize for who they are, what they look like, what they are wearing, what they say (nonverbally, of course), or how much space they are taking up. I would argue that they do feel something akin to remorse occasionally, or at least confusion (especially for those times when their human is lying on the ground, when a second ago you used to be on their back). But apologetic? Not much.

You’ll never see a horse apologizing for eating the last bit of hay or for getting a drink first or for losing a race. You’ll never hear them apologizing because they aren’t looking their best, or that their blanket is ripped or even if they have a little poop stuck in their tail. Their awareness of these superficial things is virtually nonexistent.

But, how common is it for us to utter phrases like, “I’m sorry for my appearance (my clothes are a mess, I didn’t brush my hair, I didn’t put on my makeup, I look fat in this, I have a zit on my face)”, or “I’m sorry for being in your way”, or “I’m sorry for not doing it right” or “I’m sorry for my anger, sadness, happiness, anxiety, perfectionism, illness, grief” or whatever emotion or behavior we are exhibiting that we feel needs an apology.

Just as an experiment, try and notice how many times a day you say, “I’m sorry”. Notice if you apologize for how you feel, what you look like, who you are or how you occupy space. Then notice how many times a day you hear someone else apologizing for their just being.

While I do believe that being humble, asking for forgiveness and apologizing when we’ve wronged someone else is a pathway towards increasing our own joy; apologizing for who we are or how we occupy this world is just a pathway towards self-destruction. And how can we follow our true path if our self is not intact?

So, start to notice if you’re an apology addict or if you are apologizing for the wrong reasons. If you are, just for this week or this day, try and take the horse’s lead and stop saying “I’m sorry” and instead, revel in who you are.