Why I Stopped Apologizing For My Messy Car

There have been two reasons in my life for keeping the inside of my car spotless:

  1. I didn’t want to hear it from my Mama.
  2. I used to drive around with work associates & didn’t want to be judged.

Sadly, my mother is no longer with us, and I no longer drive around with work associates in my vehicle. The most common passengers are my offspring and two dogs – none of them care about the state of the car’s interior.

I clean out my car, but I don’t “clean my car,” and most people would consider it at least slightly messy. I’ll get it detailed from time to time but it’s just not that important to me, so I don’t think about it much.

Several years ago I went on an “I’m sorry” diet. I’ve written a blog about that; you can read it here. The point of that is we all apologize for a huge load of things about which we aren’t and shouldn’t be sorry.

After putting hundreds of clients on “I’m sorry” diets (with rave reviews all around… you should try it!) I caught myself in the desire to apologize for the state of my car last week!

I went to pick up one of my close friends; we were going to have brunch and see a movie together. It was not until I was in her driveway texting “here!” that it dawned on me my car was a mess.

The passenger floorboard is my “on the way to the trashcan” collection area (nothing gross like food; just mail for discard, receipts I’m not saving, etc…) and it was painfully clear to me that it had been a while since I last cleared it out. I immediately started scrambling; luckily I had a small plastic grocery store bag to serve as a temporary trash bag. I shoved the papers in there and tossed it in the back floorboard.

She came to the passenger’s door and opened it just as I was finishing up. I had the instinct to say “Sorry my car’s so messy…” but I caught myself.

I had not said that in a long time because – no – I’m not sorry my car is messy. I was picking up a friend (who has a broken arm, making it difficult to drive) and taking her for a fun day… I was excited… not sorry – at all.

My inner coach put up a stop sign for me and instead of apologizing, I just smiled, “one sec… I’ll get this stuff out of the way.”

Authenticity. It’s one of my most treasured values.

I’m not sorry for the mess in my car. I’m not sorry when my house is a bit messy. There are six people in my family including kids, my primary office is in my house, and we have two dogs and a cat – you’d better believe the house gets messy! It’s not going to be picture perfect all the time despite my best efforts.

I stopped apologizing for the state of my car years ago when I went on my own “sorry” diet. It forced me to admit that I wasn’t sorry… I was delivering the “polite Southern nicety” we’re taught to deliver to be considered kind or proper.

What inauthentic “sorry” statements do to us, however, is nothing kind or proper. They put us in a constant state of feeling as though we are not living up to what we are supposed to be, and that’s just not true.

I do not believe I was created to have a glimmeringly clean automobile. Because that is not my life purpose, I should not be sorry I do not have a glimmeringly clean car.

I’m not sure why I inclined to apologize to my friend the other day, but I’m glad I didn’t. She might think my car is in an undesirable state, but it’s not my business to control her thoughts and opinions.

If she thinks it is in an undesirable state, I don’t disagree; however, it’s not important enough to me to do anything about it. In the time it took me to write this blog I could have cleaned the interior – so I guess we both see where my priorities are.

Know your priorities.

Know your purpose.

Know what’s worth feeling sorry for… (hint: not much.)

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