Be unapologetically yourself.
But don’t be flat out “unapologetic,” the buzzword that has been sweeping the women’s entrepreneurial space for the past few years that frankly, I’m over. We’ve gone too far with this one.
I get it, many people, women especially, have been conditioned to apologize. A lot. For things that aren’t their fault. I’ve been guilty of that too.
I know, however, that before being a man or a woman, I’m human, and I make mistakes.
As much as I hate doing it, I let people down sometimes. And I try to maintain my humanity and humility before putting on my superwoman cape and pretending I’m superhuman. That means being able to apologize, which is rare these days.
Real empowerment comes from real connection within and without, not from being unapologetic and disconnected in your own little bubble of reality.
I read books like Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth” and Susan Faludi’s “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” not long after they came out when I was in high school. My friend and I wrote a paper about how if space aliens came to visit the U.S., they would be horrified by the sexism here. I forget how the rest went, but we got an A+.
I’m not okay with women getting paid less and the other horrors of misogyny and patriarchy, but never has that translated to being unapologetic for me. If I’m being honest, I’ve never felt anything but empowered.
I married a strong man who does the dishes better than I do. Not because our gender roles assign him the dishes, which they don’t, but because it’s 2017 and we get to decide. Because it was up to me who I wanted to marry, not the society around me (the dishwashing prowess is a bonus among many other amazing qualities of my spouse, who also knows how to apologize).
Since high school, I’ve stopped thinking so much about old school feminism because I’m not interested in that kind of dialogue that continues perpetuate the problem by dividing of the sexes. Yes, I was added to the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group and voted for Clinton in 2016 but it wasn’t because she was a woman.
(If you want unapologetic, by the way, look who was elected.)
I often share how a strong relationship is so valuable in every aspect of your life (and research backs that up), but I am realizing that I foolishly take for granted that people understand that being in a strong relationship necessitates you being your empowered self. I guess it’s not obvious?
Seriously, I would be single in a HEARTBEAT if I had to be anything other than me in my marriage.
As empowered as you are, you’re still going to mess up.
And here’s the thing:
Being truly empowered and unapologetic are mutually exclusive.
I consider myself lucky as a trained psychologist and couples therapist to have learned and been able to practice with expert support and supervision the art of creating great relationships with my clients and how to help partners create great relationships with themselves.
Spoiler alert: It’s not about being unapologetic and it never will be.
I see it with my clients all the time. Partners screw up and step on each other’s toes sometimes on a daily basis.
An apology, if heartfelt, goes a long way.
It’s the simplest of things that makes the hurt go away because it shows your partner that they matter to you. Without it, your partner will stew with rage and deep seated doubts and fears about the relationship because they do not know if they matter to you.
You screw up or hurt your partner in some way?
Take responsibility and apologize! If you’re not perpetuating the problem and truly feel bad, it goes a long way, and can even deepen your connection since before the hurt.
As an entrepreneur who has also been a client many times, the whole unapologetic thing does not rub off well on me. If you screw up, I want an authentic apology.
It makes me feel like I matter to you. That matters to me!
A high level coach who screwed up BIG TIME with me who had her assistant apologize lost all my respect.
Another high level coach who took additional time to process with me what may have been a mistake on her part will be forever in my heart.
If you run a business, being able to own your mistakes and take responsibility for yourself is part of what’s necessary for long term growth and sustainability.
Regardless of what you do, business IS relationships.
The vast majority of your clients and colleagues know you’ll mess up, and will be very forgiving.
Unless of course, you’re unapologetic, in which case, you may never see them again…
Dr. Jenev Caddell is a psychologist, Emotionally Focused Therapist for couples + individuals, and integrative coach for visionaries and creative entrepreneurs. Visit her site at www.MyBestRelationship.com where you can grab a free copy of her book, Your Best Love.