Sorry? NO MORE… Sorry!

“I’m sorry, but can I ask you a question?”
“I’m sorry, I just need to grab that.”
“I’m sorry, but can I see the menu?”
“I’m sorry, but I really didn’t like it.”

If I were to ask you if these statements came from a male or female, what would be your guess?

My guess is that you guessed female, and I’m sorry to break it to you, but you would be right. There we go again. Apologizing for things that need no apologizing for. We need to urgently let go of this unproductive habit. Those two words demonstrate that from the get go we are subconsciously believing that we are inconveniencing the world with our presence. That everyone else’s time has more value than ours. That our opinions and our voice merits no attention as a standalone action without an initial disclaimer. If you research studies on why women tend to over apologize for things you’ll find varying opinions on this, so I’m not here to explain the why portion. Especially because there is no solid, singular reason that would encompass all women. The fact remains that it happens, and it happens more with us women. So, in essence, each one of us needs to ask the questions and urgently analyze our inner selves for the answer.

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Do you feel that apologizing is a demonstration of being polite? Politeness is definitely something we need to teach children, but if you are a parent of both boys and girls, do you teach them politeness any differently? If you are a teacher, do you remind your students to be polite but teach that it should be displayed differently depending on their gender? The overwhelming answer here would be, and should be no. And hopefully your own parents or teachers didn’t either. Note that men aren’t any less polite than women just because they don’t start off with an apology. Remind yourself that YOU can be polite without the apology. Try it…. “Hi, can I ask you a question?”; “Excuse me for interrupting, but there’s someone on the phone for you and it’s urgent.”; “Thank you for the suggestion, but it really wasn’t to my liking.” Polite statements without apologies are actually more effective for both parties.

Do you feel you disclaim with an apology as a form of respect? Back in the days of Kings and in some cultures even today, kneeling before a person of power was a respectful show of reverence and submission. I’ll take a wild guess here and say that you would never kneel before your boss. I’ll also take a wild guess and say that most of the men in your professional surroundings are not showing a lack of respect for their higher-ups every time they address them without an apologetic intro. You can hold someone in high regard and appreciation and still get your point across sans the “I’m sorry” portion of the program. Try it“Mr. Robinson, can I have a few minutes of your time to share with you my findings after analyzing the monthly financial reports?”; “Your Honor, yes, you would be correct in that statement.”; “Unfortunately Sir, the meeting had to be rescheduled. Let me know what’s your next available time to meet.” Each are strong respectful statements without minimizing the speakers confidence. Which then takes us to….

Maybe you’re apologizing due to a lack of confidence? This would be definitely the strongest of contenders of why you find yourself apologizing for practically everything. Once, I found myself even apologizing to the dog. The dog! When you introduce your ideas, your opinions, your needs with an apology, you give off the feeling that you are unsure or undeserving of the other parties attention or consideration. You give away power where none should have been allotted. This one is gong to take more time to help shift in a different direction since lack of confidence or a low sense of esteem is most likely rooted to deeper issues. But no need to apologize for that! You can still work on this by noticing or catching yourself each time you happen to apologize to others for things that didn’t require one. By becoming hyper aware of this habit, you gain the opportunities to understand the individual situations and why it triggered you to apologize in the first place. You take the moment back with you and you get to analyze things on your own time. I promise you… It works! When I started to notice WHEN I was biting my nails, with time I was able to find ways to stop myself when those same type of moments surfaced, hence slowly I broke the habit. You’re training your subconscious to notice before you do.

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Don’t rush your progress, be patient, but definitely prioritize this. By eventually letting go of this habit, you gain back control, you become more positive, more influential, you start to build confidence in both yourself and in how others should treat you. You’ll start feeling like a true participant in life as opposed to a burden. You’ll start holding others accountable and not sacrificing yourself for the sake of everyone else’s comfort. You’ll become your very own success story, one that deserves a “THANK YOU” and not an “I’m sorry”.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

The Sound of Silence

We can all agree that radio, television, children, and gatherings are all producers of sound, both pleasant and unpleasant… of course depending on the receiver. Your favorite song. A funny sitcom. Laughter from your little ones. Great conversation with family and friends. All positive things for sure, and I thankfully find myself being a willing receiver to it all. But equally… well, actually if not more important to me is SILENCE. It’s in silence that I can “hear” my own voice. If we take out time to listen to other people’s rants on various topics…be it on the news, or a YouTube channel, or reading it in an article, then one should also take time out to hear (insert your name here) internal voice, thoughts and ideas. Surprisingly though, through my conversations with different types of people, I have learned that silence is a very scary thing for many. They cringe at the idea of having thoughts running out of their inner depths up to the surface of their minds, and hence they look to drown out the opportunity with outward, loud, consistent sounds.

I have no right to tell you that you need to change, because change is a personal decision taken when your current path no longer benefits your needs. But since you’re still reading this, let me tell you that silence CAN be and IS a beautiful sound. It’s a put your feet up and cuddle with a soft, plush blanket by candlelight kind of sound. It’s a watch the sunrise/sunset with your feet in the sand kind of sound. Its a soak in a warm bath when you’re cold kind of sound. Silence can help with relaxing the mind to then allow for an inner thought to be heard.

During that silence, alone with that thought….

  • You’ll be able to hear your thought and even be able to outline reasons for the thought.
  • You can mentally scratch out the thought as “done” after coming up with various solutions.
  • You can make plans, you can set goals, you can recollect memories, you can even have a conversation with yourself.
  • You can nurture your imagination and fantasize.
  • You can judge your thoughts or you can excuse them.
  • You can analyze where you went wrong, or relive what helped you succeed.
  • You can become that friend to yourself that always listens and uplifts.
  • You can give yourself the advice you’re always dishing out to others, and actually hear it.
  • You can swear as much as you’d like in thought without disrupting others. When my eight year old gets angry, he asks me if he can swear to himself in thought. I tell him that his thoughts are completely his and he can definitely swear through his anger. As long it doesn’t escape in sound to others. He’s happy and ultimately, I’m happy.

And there’s always time to be in thought. Driving is my favorite time to discuss things with myself. Especially when the kids are not in the car. But when they are, and I’ve given them enough time to express themselves, I require some silence for thinking. They find it interesting that I want to just think, but by osmosis it’s becoming part of their weekly routine. Hopefully they will enjoy it and benefit from it as they travel in to adulthood. My shower time is also mine to be in thought. I’ve read that some people’s best ideas have come to them when they are sitting peacefully on the commode.

I really encourage you to try it. I encourage you to turn off the radio and television. Take off the headphones. Sure, it might be scary to be alone with your thoughts, but so was your first date, and you got through that. You may discover an amazing friend within yourself. And don’t forget to be a friend right back. Happy 2018 everyone!!!

— The Pretty Platform

Those Dandelions Set Me Straight!

Where I’m at and what I was doing there really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was sitting, feeling the warmth of the sun reflecting in from the window, not even paying attention to what’s going on outside. The view glimmered in the sun and caught the corner of my eye. I turn to the right and squinted ever so slightly. Initially, nothing grand to be seen. Just a run of the mill field of green grass with trees lining the perimeter.  Such a pretty, relaxing view though. I love sitting by this window. As I keep turning to catch glimpses of the view I then notice; bright dandelions spread across that grassy field. Sporadic growth, some here, some there; nature has decided their location. They give off a cheery and warm feeling. A “SPRING IS APPROACHING” sign. As children, we were taught to depict the sun in yellow. This color symbolizes summertime warmth. Rubber duckies are always yellow. That “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Smiley face is always displayed in yellow. And so is a perfectly delicious banana. Growing up, my mom always painted our kitchen in yellow. “It’s a happy color”, she’d excuse. And I remembered those dandelions as a child, thinking they were the most beautiful “flower” ever. Pulling one out of the ground ever so gently to use as a tropical accessory in my hair. Something so small, yet made my life more colorful.

And just as someone’s entire life flashes before their eyes when faced with a huge mortality experience, at that moment, straight away I learned a true life lesson (or lessons).

Countless obsessed Americans have decided that this little beauty is more of a nuisance, a tiny irritating pest. Homeowners will cringe at the sight of these popping up amongst their beautifully manicured lawns. They will pull at the root, they will apply weed killer, with determination they will run over them with their mowers. And all because someone, somewhere, at some time decided that the only acceptable form of perfection is a clear green yard. They decided that nature cannot decide or dictate. They themselves will control and manipulate. They will pour out money and invest all energy to acquire the results they have come to accept and conform to. Each lawn striving to look like the one to their right and to their left. An all cohesive, interconnected, organized look. Homeowners will curse the dandelion for being a weed, forgetting, or maybe not even knowing that their perfect grass is too a weed. But ask a child, a person in their purest form, with eyes so clear, not influenced by pre-conceived notions of what is acceptable, which yard they would prefer, and most will choose the one adorned with those happy bright flowers. They see beauty, they see life, they see enjoyment.

And THAT is what happens to many when leaving childhood and entering adulthood. We all display it in one form or another, either willfully or unknowingly. We forget the beauty in things, in people, in nature, or we choose to fight against it. A charming old farm-house will be renovated in to a cold modern investment. A curvy woman will nip, tuck, or squeeze while a thin man will spend hours trying to bulk up. A man displaying a tattoo will be categorized, as well as a woman with short spiky hair. She’s too pushy, he’s too effeminate. He’s shy, she’s loud. He’s too contented, she’s money hungry. A man shouldn’t cry, a woman shouldn’t raise her voice. That kid is either too hyperactive, or the other too lethargic. This kid either talks too much, or your teen doesn’t speak much at all. Too short, too tall, too skinny or fat. We all fall under one of these categories. We all know someone who does. We all decide who goes where. We all fight against one or many.

But incredibly, a child will not care if you’re loud. He’ll consider you fun. Pushy? Assertive. Effeminate? Sensitive to others. Tattoos are interesting pictures. Spiky hair is cool. Hyperactive is playful and lethargic is relaxing. The one that talks a lot is social and the one that doesn’t is contemplative. That old farm-house has history, and that modern renovation is sleek. Curvy will provide a hug full of loving comfort, and that slender man is tall and elegant. Can you do that? Can you or I look at everyone and everything through the eyes of a child? I dare you to try this for a week.

It has been said that every weed is technically a plant deemed out-of-place. Deemed by who though? It is a plant considered undesirable. Undesirable to whom? Last I looked, nature has a purpose for EVERY living thing. The lowly unwanted Dandelion when researched is not only beautiful, but is hardy and has useful dietary and medicinal qualities AND is completely edible. Further research and the flower petals are used to make Dandelion wine and coffee. What?!! My next shopping trip for sure will include these in my cart. And of course, here’s the lesson I learned; Research the people you opt to judge before doing so. Don’t be the person to make them or yourself feel out-of-place. Don’t you dare consider someone else or yourself as undesirable. Understand their purpose and accept your own. See their beauty as well as your own. Look for their strengths and learn how to make your own even stronger.

Next lesson; Although a plant, I mentioned before that grass is also considered a weed by many. An acceptable, wanted, sort after and nurtured “weed”. The one knighted even by nature itself to cover the ground we walk on. So all is fine. NO! Of course, humans always step in to direct and decide things their way. Have you ever wondered who cuts the grass on the rolling hills of Ireland? Have you seen the rolling hills of Ireland? No one cuts it. It’s growth and self-maintenance has produced such a breathtaking view.  It’s proven that mowing is a destructive practice that stresses the grass because it reduces the amount of leaf tissue available for the production of energy. Cut too low, take it down past it’s breaking point, the grass dies. Dull, poorly adjusted equipment will tear the grass blade, leaving it susceptible to infection and giving your lawn a frayed brownish look. Blah, blah, blah? The correlations are just staring us straight in the face. You MUST see all the parallels here, don’t you?!  Adults insist nurturing only what they deem acceptable. They will destroy one another, cutting others down in order to fit them in to their perfect “green” life. And although many people and children do need some “trimming”, but if done incorrectly, if using poorly adjusted equipment; The result? There is nothing left for that person to produce. Their “energy” squashed, extracted, gone. Their beauty now frayed and eroded.

I WANT the happy Dandelion. I want to BE that Dandelion. I want the childhood attributes that come with it. I want to reflect that in my dealings with everyone. I will research you, I will ask you questions, I will get to know you, I will see your beauty and purpose. I will nurture you to grow in your natural state. You have the right to be wine and coffee. I will allow you to be The Rolling Hills of Ireland. And as for the actual Dandelion? I will keep them in my yard for as long as I can, because my children deserve the same memories and lessons I’ve learned through them.

— Elke

The Rolling Hills of Ireland - Picture courtesy of Bloomingfieldfarmvt.com
The Rolling Hills of Ireland – Picture courtesy of Bloomingfieldfarmvt.com
Picture courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net
Picture courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net