“Never apologize for food…”

That was what my sweet, wise-beyond-her-years daughter said to me a long time ago. I was bringing a dish to the family dinner table. I had spent a long time preparing it. But before I even set it down I was saying that it might not be that tasty, that maybe the recipe hadn’t worked out right. My little sage turned to me and said: “You making us food is a good thing. It is like a present you are giving us. Don’t apologize for food, mom.” Wow… I have kept this in my heart ever since and shared it with many friends. To me it applies to more than just food.

I notice it all the time…belittling or apologizing for our efforts. Why? Are we pre-empting criticism? Worrying that our offering will be inadequate? Why, after putting our energy and creativity into something are we still so hard on ourselves? Please stop. Just stop apologizing. It may be a hard habit to break – but what if we shift the lens to celebrate the effort, rather than whether the result is the elusive “perfect” one we had in mind?  

For example I admire people who try dating again after a relationship break-up or loss. It takes courage to put yourself out there. No – they may not find their love match right away but they are taking action and being open to meeting someone new. That takes guts and optimism and is to be celebrated!  

How about trying to establish positive new patterns: like saying No to things you don’t want to do, eating better, making time for exercise or looking for a career change? What if you make progress but also stumble, stall, or get caught up in old reactions or ways of thinking? Do you get frustrated with yourself because you are not making change as fast or consistently as you want?

Focus on what you have accomplished. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate your efforts. Beating yourself up for not doing it “perfectly” does not serve you at all and will just make you feel inadequate – and you are not!   

I invite you to shift the lens. Look at what you have done. Focus on the actions that you have taken. Yes – you can and should learn, grow and do more to achieve your goals….but perfection can be the enemy of good. Practice not apologizing – for food or anything else you worked at to do or create. Celebrate your efforts as much as the results – you will notice the difference.