By Madisyn Taylor
Adapted by Melody Gluth
Do you find yourself (or someone else) in the bad habit of constantly apologizing? Is there a way to stop? Apologizing chronically can be a sign of feeling low self-worth.
Many people suffer with the tendency to apologize all the time, chronically, for everything. On the one hand, apologizing is a social convention that keeps interactions between people polite, and in that way it can be very helpful. On the other hand, if we find ourselves apologizing for everything, it might be time to look at the possible reasons why we feel compelled to say the phrase ‘I’m sorry’ so often.
Ultimately, saying ‘I’m sorry’ is actually saying that you are responsible for something that has gone wrong in the situation. Whether it’s negotiating a parking spot, moving through the aisles of the supermarket, or reaching for what you want, there are times when sorry is the correct group of words to say. However, there are other situations in which phrases like “excuse me” or “pardon” are more accurate.
Sometimes, saying you’re sorry is like saying that the other person in the equation has more of a right to be here than you do. Of course, it’s true that using the word sorry can simply be an innocuous way of defusing tension. However, if you find that you are saying sorry all the time, you might want to look a little deeper and see where in your psyche that behavior might be steaming from. If this is a pattern, breaking the habit may simply take some awareness and practice.
The first step is observing yourself each time you say it, without being hard on yourself about it. Throughout your day, take notice each time you apologize. No judgments at this point, simply make a tally mark each time it occurs. When analyzing your observations, you might be surprised to see that you do it even more than you first realized. After a day or two of keeping track, try to tune in to what it is you are feeling right before you say it. You might be feeling threatened, embarrassed, intensely anxious, or a variety of other feelings, make a note of this. Be honest with yourself. What is driving you to say that you’re sorry?
Recognize when you should apologize and when you do not need to apologize. Save your apologies for when you’re offering condolences when you’ve genuinely done something wrong. However, don’t apologize for things that you have no control over. Learn to identify the times when you should and should not be apologizing. Think about your situation thoroughly instead of immediately apologizing. If it’s not you’re your fault, then there is no need to say sorry. You are not responsible for everything that happens.
Over time, try to stop yourself before the words come out and just be present with the feeling that’s taking place. The more you are able to see it, the freer you will be not to say sorry all the time. Train yourself to say, “excuse me” or “pardon” instead. Remember to reserve your apologies for specific occasions.