How Long Would You Survive Lena Dunham’s Apology Experiment?

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Like many women, Lena Dunham has an apology problem. Meaning: she apologizes all the time — for things she's not really sorry for, things that she has no reason to be sorry for, and sometimes for the very act of apologizing. But now, she's done with all that. Or, at least, she's trying to be, and to not say "sorry" if she happens to slip up. Dunham penned a thoughtful essay on LinkedIn this week, detailing an experiment she embarked upon when her dad challenged her to abandon meaningless mea culpas for just one week. "But what do you replace sorry with?" she wondered at the outset. For Dunham, finding the answer means tapping into your real feelings that underly our impulse to atone. "For starters," she wrote, "you can replace it with an actual expression of your needs and desires. And it turns out when you express what you want (without a canned and insincere apology) everyone benefits. Your employees know what you want from them and can do their jobs with clarity and pride. The dynamic remains healthy and open. You feel 79% less shame (there's 21% of human shame that's just baseline and incurable, right!?)." That's a pretty mighty revelation to have within a single day of a "sorry" cleanse. Though, in all fairness to Dunham, we're pretty sure these musings have been baking in her brain for awhile. She's also far from the only woman analyzing the apology plague in her mind: We wrote about it at length earlier this year, and discovered that one Refinery29 employee apologized no fewer than 47 times in the course of a single day. One of the things that both Dunham and our very own Lindsey Stanberry tapped into while picking apart the way women say sorry? It doesn't feel good to live a life peppered by hollow penitence — so it's worth saving that word for when you actually mean it. And so now we challenge you: Consider how many times you mumble "sorry" instead of what you really mean over the next couple of days. If you're shocked at how many times it comes out of your mouth, it might be time to try Dunham's experiment for yourself.

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