Why You Should Stop Saying You’re Sorry

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

SorryPostWhy do women apologize more frequently than men? Well, I have my theories. This older article at Scientific American is interesting too.

I hear women say they are sorry several times a day. They say it when they cross your path in the grocery store. They say it when their pen rolls over to your paper in a meeting. They say it sometimes when they make eye contact with you and they’re near your space. ” I am sorry.” Some of these sound silly? They bump into you. They say they’re so sorry.

I appreciate the kindness and the respect. However, there is a power disequilibrium at play here. After all, when was the last time you ran into a bunch of guys who apologized profusely. Try picturing Donald Trump or the president saying, “I am sorry. How rude of me.” {Squishy, concerned affect}. See?

Well, that’s how a lot of smart women walk around. They apologize for everything.

I am not immune. It used to slip out of my mouth a lot too, until I started thinking about it.

Are You An “I Am So Sorry” Girl?

I started thinking about it after I encountered another “I am sorry” girl during my eyebrow wax. Stephanie (not her real name) asked me if I had any specifics she needed to be aware of before she poured on the hot wax. I told her to please not wax the top of my brows, “They get all zitty if you go there,” I explained.

She sympathized. Then we got to talking. We were laughing and gabbing, then she got distracted. Stephanie then put wax on top of my brows, even though I had asked her not to. You could have thought she had just started the great Chicago fire.

“I am soooo sorry. I can’t believe I did that. I feel terrible. Oh my God! I am soo sorry,” her poor voice  squeaked. She then proceeded to sweetly say she was sorry at least eight times. I finally had to stop her. “Stephanie, please don’t say you are sorry anymore. I accept your apology and it is no big deal.”

My guess is Stephanie has some self-esteem  challenges. Or, at least she takes on way too much emotional responsibility for others. Stephanie is not unlike a lot of other women in that she is probably a very kind, compassionate caring person who easily feels too bad for stuff she really shouldn’t feel bad about.

Here are three good reasons to save your apologies for important moments. Or, at least to be more mindful of how much you apologize.

Saying “I am sorry” all the time:

1. Tells your brain and everyone else you are a sorry person.

Brains that hear “I AM SORRY” over and over only recognize the words that “YOU ARE SORRY.”

2. Gives away your power.

Poor Steph was really beating up on herself for a simple mistake. A simple, “I apologize.” Or, ” I made a mistake,” is a mutually respectful way to identify an error, say that you regret it, then it is time to move on.

3.  Tells others that you may have low self-esteem, or at least that you are feeling really bad and guilty. 

This is only useful if it is something you should feel bad about. My experience is that most women are overly responsible and feel they are at fault, even when they are not. This is surely a societal dynamic where we feel pressured into this less powerful role. Not our fault but very present, even though we are surely not aware of it. The “I am sorry’s” you see all around you are a surefire indicator.

How to avoid giving up your power when you apologize:

  • Be sincere.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Keep your head up, body language strong and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
  • Use your apologies wisely and use empowering words like “I apologize,” or “I regret that decision.”
  • Stop apologizing for dumb things, like asking for water. Say “excuse me ” instead.
  • Don’t take ownership of problems when they really aren’t your fault.
  • Pay attention to powerful people whom you admire. How do they convey regrets?

In Stephanie’s case, a sincere, “I apologize Cherilynn. I inadvertently did exactly what you asked me not to do because I was distracted,” would have been sufficient.

CHALLENGE: Try to go a whole day without saying “I am sorry.” For some compassionate, smart, caring women, that can be quite a challenge! Let me know how you do.

Take care,cherilynnvelandSM

Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago. She also blogs about home, work, life and love at www.stopgivingitaway.com Could you take the time to kindly follow me/Cherilynn on Twitter? Connect on Facebook too? I would really appreciate the support! And don’t forget Google Plus.




The Trouble With Heart Trouble For Women

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

My friend Shannon’s mother had a heart attack this weekend. Luckily, her mom is okay and they discovered she had severe blockages that had been occurring for a long time. Shannon’s heartsmother reported that, in hindsight, she had been experiencing heartburn for years and had felt a marked decrease in her energy level over the past few months. She was too busy to get it checked out.

Incredibly, the heart attack hasn’t set her mom back in the slightest. She is up, ready to get back into the swing of going and doing and is refusing to rest. My friend Shannon is annoyed and frustrated at her mother’s refusal to take care of herself.

What Shannon and her mother didn’t know is that women are very different from men in how they treat themselves with regards to heart difficulties. Here are some interesting facts every woman should be aware of:


1. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Continue reading… »

I Hate My Husband! Angry Feelings In Relationships & Welcome To The Thunderdome

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 11.11.10 AMI had lunch with a friend recently. He explained that he was seriously struggling in his marriage. He thought he needed to get a divorce because he disliked his wife so much. He  said, “I really almost hate her, Cherilynn. There is no way this is normal.”

They just had a baby, they were both working full-time and barely making their monthly bills after suffering from severe financial setbacks. Understandably, they were overstressed, overburdened and they were fighting a ton.

“Oh, puullease…” I said to him with a mouthful of Panera Greek Salad. “Who doesn’t hate their spouse sometimes?! Suck it up, buddy. That is what marriage is all about. Welcome to the Thunderdome!”

(Do you remember that 80′s movie starring Mel Gibson? The one set in the future and Mad Max fights to the death in a very large cage? Check out this YouTube  reenactment of the Thunderdome fighting. Look familiar? Exactly.)

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6 Big Things To Remember About The First Year After Your Divorce/Separation

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Jessica writes an excellent blog called Single Mom Nation.(See #6). I highly recommend.

Divorce Girls,

I have had friends and clients go through divorce. For some, they are so excited and pumped it is kinda bizarre to watch. For most, it can be challenging and traumatic. In fact, last month I attended an excellent divorce training titled “The Trauma of Divorce”. Very enlightening.Yes, divorce is terribly difficult, but it is an incredibly rich time of learning, growth and change. Knowing what to expect empowers.

Here are some recommendations for adjusting that my clients have used to help them through that first year:

1.Expect to be overwhelmed by  the newness of every experience.

Depending on how long you have been married, many experiences will feel different and awkward. Expect this. For example, when you attend a party or an event that is typically coupled, without the presence of a partner, it may feel uncomfortable. Holidays may seem new with new traditions to make happen.

Know this going into it and give yourself permission to notice the feelings that this brings up. Do you feel like people are staring at you? (They probably aren’t.) Are other people acting weird around you? (They might be, because they don’t know what to say.) This awkwardness will pass. Noticing the feelings and honoring them within you will enable you to walk through these situations with strength and poise. You can do it.

2. Watch out for the idealizing of other ideal families or “marrieds”.

One of my clients was at an amusement theme park with her kids by herself. It was the first “new family” outing without her spouse. She reported that it was hard seeing all of the two-parent households laughing and appearing so happy with their children. Despite this, she and her kids had a blast together.

It is expected to be feeling that loss. However, a lot of what you see on the outside has nothing to do with what is really going on in these people’s lives. Family units come in all kinds of numbers. The important thing is that you love each other and that you live your life in truth and to the best of your abilities. Anytime we compare our insides with what we see “out there,” it can be unnecessarily torturous. Stop yourself if you start down this road of thinking.

3. Don’t buy into any negative stigma.

There is still a negative stigma around divorce. I am a child of divorce. I remember being stigmatized for that. Some friends’ parents wouldn’t let their kids come over to my house anymore because my parents were divorced. I was deemed a child from “a broken home.” Interestingly, these children could play at other homes where the parents were violent alcoholics who bullied and harmed their children. However, they happened to be married so they were viewed as acceptable. In addition, I have seen couples married for 30, 40, 50+ years who can’t stand each other and are miserable together, but everyone claps and coos at their anniversary parties. Hmm…. See what I mean? Society’s values are often not foolproof.

There is still something of a societal stigma attached to divorce. It is ridiculous. Try to detach.

4. As you make decisions on your behavior every day, focus on your kids or the next best action for you in the long run and short run.

If you have kids, do what is best for them in any interaction with your ex. If you don’t have kids, still keep focused on the short-term and long-term benefits of your decisions. Is it worth it to make that last snide remark? Probably not. Practice detachment from angry, inappropriate stuff. Try to do unto your ex as you would want to be done unto you. That way, you don’t have to add shame and guilt about your actions to the pile of stuff you are already dealing with. Make yourself proud.

5. Expect to go through periods of good, capable, “up-to-the-task” days, then suddenly switch to periods of intense paralysis.

When paralysis hits, you will be unmotivated, you may put things off, you may not be able to make a decision. This is OK.

I have had so many clients and friends describe these strong feelings of not being able to do anything for significant periods of time after their divorce. One client described just staring for days on end at the boxes she needed to pack. So many people have described this to me that it must be a stage of the grief that occurs. If you find that this happens, don’t panic. You will get done what needs to get done. You are just going through something. Relax. Go with it. See if it passes. It probably will.

6. Get support.

Last but definitely not least, you have to get support. Repeat. You have to get support. If you weren’t in counseling or therapy before the divorce, now could be a good time to start. Build your support network through friends, church, synagogues or support groups. For many, divorce really is as traumatic as death, only without the societal recognition that a funeral might have. You may feel very alone. It is temporary and you will get through this and eventually thrive.

Log onto some great blogs and connect with others to inspire you. I love this one for single moms called Single Mom Nation. There is tons of stuff out there for people needing direction on the divorce process. Here is a Top 10 List for Divorce info.

In addition, there are so many upsides to being by yourself. New life. Starting over. Your rules. Wahoo! Try to keep your eyes open for these gratefulness opportunities and enjoy the upsides. Game on.


Take care,

Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago. She also blogs about home, work, life and love at www.stopgivingitaway.com Could you take the time to kindly follow me/Cherilynn on Twitter? Connect on Facebook too? I would really appreciate the support! And don’t forget Google Plus.

Are You Your Own Fun Killer? Top 10 Ways To Sabotage Your Happiness

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Can you sometimes be your own fun killer? Do you ever sabotage your potential to be happy? Read these 10 common ways people can unknowingly do this.

1. Focus on the bitch.photo-24

This is what I call the process whereby one is able to find the negative in any situation. And believe me, you can find the negative with anyone, anywhere, at anytime. That is easy. The challenge is to find the positive to focus your attention on.

2. Judge/criticize  others.

Why is so-an-so so _____? What is his/her problem? Isn’t it obvious that he/she shouldn’t be ________.

This is a fun killer and will steal positive energy from you. Say this anytime you have a judgmental or critical thought about someone/something else. “And the world is a beautiful place.” It changes the energy quickly. Reminds your critical self  to cut it out!

Continue reading… »

Why Lady Gaga Is A Good Woman Entertainer Icon

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW
Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga in concert, we had a blast.

I went to the Lady Gaga concert last night in Chicago. Tons of fun! I had never been a big fan but I enjoyed her music. My friends got tickets and so I went. After the concert, I realized I really liked her.

The Concert

Glowing lights, wigs and smiling, happy people — it was a blast. We saw so many interesting people too: a guy in purple satin, tiny shorts and green fishnets … a huge man in a blonde 50′s housewife wig. We made up a contest to see who was the best decked out.

I like Lady Gaga. Here’s why …

Continue reading… »

Women, Marriage, and Should You Submit?

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Weddings and marriage have been on my mind lately. In June, I went to a beautiful wedding on the side of a hill in Ramona, California. It was soooo pretty. The backdrop of the wedding was absolutely Eden like,

June wedding in Ramona, Ca.

June wedding in Ramona, Ca.

as was the idealic love of the couple who were over-the-moon excited to be marrying each other.

I have included several pictures sprinkled into the article and at the end. This was a very rustic, nontraditional, classy wedding (and Pinterest worthy too). Even the dishes were one of a kind, none of the  gorgeous antique patterns were replicated.

Interestingly, there was a part in the wedding when the minister gave his sermon. Within this sermon was an overview and recommendations on how to have a happy, God-centered marriage. I was enjoying it. Then, as soon as I heard the words “wife” and “submit to her husband,” I knew we were  in for trouble. Most people, Christian or not, have heard this quote from the Bible, and everybody has strong opinions about it.

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Help! I Have A Target On My Back At Work

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

9653422798_36e4e06b5dI met with my friend Samantha yesterday for lunch. She told me a bizarro story about her performance review. “Cherilynn, it was like a Jekyll and Hyde experience. He (her boss) came in all nice and smiley and then he absolutely TURNED! He turned into somebody else!”

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…
She described him as going from Mr. Everybody Likes Him At The Office guy to somebody who was downright evil. She said after they casually greeted each other, he shut the door and then he changed. He shifted into a lower speaking voice, and began criticizing her and accusing her of crazy @** stuff. He said she was missing deadlines and refusing to follow instructions. (She hadn’t). Then he told her the following:

“I know you have done amazing things and done great work at all of your prior jobs and at this one. I realize that you motivate people, and that you are incredibly skilled at what you do. But you better know now, you will be doing NONE of that here!” O-M-G!

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Abusive Relationships Affect Men Too

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

This is a psychology of women blog. The post I did on verbal abuse got a ton of hits. Clearly, abuse and mistreatment in relationships is a big problem415873324_8ab5e3c9a4.

Statistics do show that women are much more likely to be in domestic-violent relationships. However, there are couples out there who have the reverse problem, where the man is the victim and the woman is the abuser. Certainly, homosexual relationships are not exempt from this issue either. For the record, when I reference abuse in this column, I am talking about physical violence, the threat of physical violence or emotional abuse, all of which are devastating.

What made me think about this issue was a flyer I saw on a wall when I was up in Minnesota last week fishing with my son. It was a flyer about a support group for men in abusive relationships. “Wow!” I thought, “this is a small town in Minnesota and they have a support group for men going through this?” I was impressed. I live in a city with a population that averages 3 million, and I have never seen any information out there for men who are suffering with this problem.

Continue reading… »

How You Can Help Too Much

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

help too much

“I help too much. My kids tell me it is so annoying. What is wrong with helping?” 

My girlfriend Anna was saying this to me over coffee last week. In Anna’s situation, she has an adult daughter who is married. She found out her son-in-law had hurt his ankle. Anna decided she would research what was wrong with her son-in-law’s ankle and  semi-diagnose his injury. Then, Mary found a specialist in the area to treat the ankle and set up an appointment for him. How nice! The annoying part was probably that her son-in-law didn’t want her help to begin with.

The great part about Mary is that she cares about people and she is good at solving problems. This was wonderful when her husband was diagnosed with cancer and he asked for her help. However, with the other people in her life, it could feel like Anna helps too much. For them, it could feel like boundary crossing ,or it could feel like she is pushing them in a direction they aren’t comfortable with or ready for.

Continue reading… »


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