I received an encouraging email last week from Jane. It contained an incredible insight that gave me a strong “aha!” moment that I hope you will find helpful too.
If you’ve listened to the podcast for a while then you may have noticed that I tend to apologise whenever I am unable to produce a show on a certain week. I will normally start the next episode by saying “sorry for not releasing a podcast last week”, or something along those lines.
I do it without thinking, I suppose it feels like the polite thing to do.
A part of this is driven by knowing that there are people who like to listen at a certain time or while doing a certain activity each week. From my own experience this is the case with podcasts I like to listen to. When there is a break I feel a bit lost. I’m a creature of slightly obsessive habit.
So I guess that is a motivating factor. However, Jane made an important point about the impact of such an apology.
“I wonder if there is a way that you could express joy, instead of apology, when you are not able to put out your podcasts according to the demanding schedule that you have set for yourself?”
Ooh yes, interesting thought…
“I believe that I am not the only one who can not begin to comprehend how you balance so many important things with such feeling and dedication. Just a crazy thought, but I almost think it might be helpful for us who have so many varied interests, curiosities, vivid imaginations, complicated thoughts, etc. to have you be an example of purposely taking a little time to relax.”
Wow, yes. By apologising for not being able to fulfil the commitment for weekly episodes, I’m passing a subtle judgement. I’m saying that productivity may matter more than self-care (and other things).
By passing such a judgement I’m not being the role model I want to be. I would like to speak through my actions actually saying: “I can’t do an episode this week and that is fine…I make no apology about the fact that I need to rest, even though I am sorry if you were hoping for one.”
Different Kinds of Apology
These types of sorry are totally different. One is shame/guilt. The other is more sympathetic/empathetic. The first is a self-shaming apology that I have failed, while the second is a nod of acknowledgement that my decision has an impact. In other words, I’m sorry you didn’t have an episode to listen to, but I’m not sorry that I chose to take it off my to do list this week.
Does this make sense for anything that you have committed yourself to? We see it all the time when we make wild commitments to go running every day, or publish a blog post each morning (as I saw someone flagellating himself over this week). We can trap ourselves, and we can trap other people as well.
By judging ourselves when we don’t meet our own crazy expectations we may well be judging others by the same token. At least, this is what I think I may have been doing.
If you feel like that’s the case then please…accept my apology! And know that I won’t be apologising anymore. Also know that if there isn’t an episode and you like to listen to it in a specific place each week, I’m sorry you don’t have one. I feel your pain. But I’m just not sorry that I decided to avoid risking burning myself out in the effort and pressure to produce one!
Over to You
How do you feel when life naturally requires you to make hard choices like this? Do you accept it as a part of life, or do you apologise through the shame of letting people down? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your response in the comments below.