Why do we feel the need to apologize for having feelings?
At an event I attended, the speaker was sharing her journey of how she came to do the work she does. At one point, she faltered and it became clear she was having some feelings, touched by the memory of her experiences. She choked up a bit and held back the tears. She then apologized for being “so emotional.”
And I thought, Why? What did you have to apologize for? Because in that moment she seemed real and genuine to me. She was vulnerable and brave. And in real vulnerability, there is strength. I looked around and could see people were clearly moved by her words, as was I.
Too often we act as if feelings are a bad thing. How many times have I heard someone say, “I’m sorry, I’m being really emotional”? How many times have I apologized for crying or being about to cry?
When did feelings become something to be sorry about? It’s not as if I broke a priceless family heirloom, spilled red wine on the carpet, or stepped on someone’s toe. Those might be things to apologize for. But feelings? Apology not accepted. Because you know what?
Feelings are not the enemy. Feelings are not bad and wrong. The only bad thing about feelings is stuffing them down inside or going completely out of control with destructive behavior.
In the movie Thanks for Sharing, one of the characters says, “Feelings are like kids. You don’t want them driving the car, but you don’t want to stuff them in the trunk either.” And I think having feelings along for the ride is just fine.
So for today, feel. Feel whatever you need to feel. And don’t apologize.
(Scene from Steel Magnolias)