No Need to Apologize

Over the past 18 years of practicing Reiki and massage, I’ve noted the things that clients, particularly women, apologize for that don’t require an apology. Once somebody head-butted me while turning over and sometimes people don’t show up for appointments. These are apology- worthy events. The way you look or feel is not. It saddens me that we’ve been indoctrinated to be embarrassed or ashamed of our bodies and emotions. 

I’m sorry that my hair is wet or not freshly washed, that my toes are unpainted or just-now-painted, that my legs are unshaven, that I did or didn’t put on makeup. These are all expressions that I used to hear frequently when I worked in a spa. In my private practice, my regular clients have all been informed that none of these things matter to me. They are accepted exactly as they are and have learned to forgo the amends.

My all-time favorite is, “Sorry I fell asleep.” Feeling safe and relaxed enough to drift off during a treatment is the ultimate compliment to me! Likewise, snoring isn’t offensive. It’s amusing and endearing when it gets loud enough to wake the snorer up. 

Having difficulty settling in or getting comfortable is quite common in a treatment room and it’s the therapist’s job to help you do so. There is absolutely no call to apologize for being too hot or too cold or having a leg cramp. Seriously, we want you to be ideally cozy and without sudden, searing pain and will go to great lengths to accommodate your needs. It’s no trouble at all to get an extra blanket or adjust the face cradle. 

It’s not uncommon for tears to come up before, during, or after a session. Sometimes people arrive in vulnerable state and other times old pain is released from its storage place. Either way, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. While clients may not be accustomed to crying in front of another person, any bodyworker or energyworker worth their salt is solidly rooted in compassion and able to stay present without feeling the need to fix or solve anything. You might feel uncomfortable shedding tears, which is perfectly natural, but please know that there is absolutely no reason to apologize for them. 

I’d like to suggest that we save our apologies for when they are truly necessary; when we hurt someone either accidentally or deliberately and condolences. Let’s stop apologizing for things that are beyond our control or that violate ridiculous societal norms, especially for feeling upset and for the shape and condition of our bodies. 

Here’s a trick that might help you. When wondering if I need to say “I’m sorry”, I imagine my adorable six year old niece and whether or not I would expect or demand an apology from her in similar circumstances. Why would I apply higher standards to myself than this sweet, sassy, and innocent being? Choose a cutie you know or even one from a darling YouTube video and give it a try. I think you’ll find it incredibly liberating! I sure did.

4 thoughts on “No Need to Apologize

  1. Thank you for this, Pamela. You are spot on. I’ve heard many of these same things. I think this wonderful advice applies not just in relation to bodywork, but to our everyday lives. Why are we apologizing for being human?

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    1. Excellent point, Rae! Thank you. 🙂 I agree totally. I guess I was meaning that ESPECIALLY during bodywork as that is super-special time that people set aside for themselves. But why not extend this same thinking out into everyday life?!

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