I’m sorry, I know that’s harsh.
Do you have a tendency to apologize? If you make a small mistake, do you respond respond immediately with, “Ugh, I’m so sorry about that!”? If someone bumps into you, do you spit out, “I’m sorry!” If you’re feeling uncomfortable, do you say “I’m sorry I’m so awkward?”
Do you have a habit of saying “I’m sorry” in every possible circumstance? Are you the sort of person who blurts “sorry!” when something happens, even when it’s out of your control?
Odds are you’ve said “I’m sorry” at least once today for something that didn’t require you to say it. The odds are even higher if you’re a woman.
If those scenarios sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. You might be a chronic over-apologizer.
I have a problem with this. I’m an over-apologizer.
Apologizing is a common trait among “people pleasers”. You apologize because you think you’re wrong, or you want to diffuse tension, or take responsibility for something so no one is unhappy, or even to fill an awkward silence. We all speak without thinking from time to time; a lot of people say sorry when they don’t know what else to say. But there are soooooo many words in the English language.
Plus, spewing out countless sorries means you spend a good chunk of time feeling guilty (whether you know it or not), and that sounds terrible. I have a better idea.
How To Stop Apologizing
Replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you”.
Stop apologizing for existing.
Saying sorry puts you in an submissive position, removing power. By saying it, you’re implying that you’re seeking approval. I found that the more I was apologizing, the more time I spent focusing on something negative—like I had started things off on the wrong foot and needed to spend the rest of my time proving myself. Ugh, no thanks.
The solution is simple: think before you speak and replace your sorry with thank you.
Instead of “I’m sorry for taking so long to respond to your email”
Say “Thank you for your patience.”
Instead of “I’m sorry I’m late.”
Say “Thank you for taking time to see me.”
Using thank you replaces negativity with positivity and breaks the “I’m sorry” cycle. It transforms your exchanges into something constructive and upbeat, which we can all do more of.
There’s absolutely a time and a place for apologies. If you do something like hurt a loved one’s feelings, you should apologize. Save sorry for the times when you really need it, and it will go a long way. But if you’re saying sorry constantly, the phrase loses its meaning. What are you really sorry for?
The next time you go to say sorry, stop yourself and ask, “am I really sorry?”
Today and tomorrow, I challenge you to be mindful of your words. Keep a record of the number of times that you apologize in a day. Write it down, then look at your tally at the end of the day. How many times did you apologize? Come back to this post and tell me.
I’m definitely a chronic over-apologizer. Thank you for the definition. I have been working on it for years, but I still catch myself saying sorry for everything, and usually things that are not my fault. I feel I say it to difuse a situation, or because it makes other people feel better. I’m usually left feeling unvalidated, and vulnerable. People also seem to take advantage of my kindness. I am left feeling angry too, once I lost it, and bursted out, I’m not That Sorry, which left me feeling guilty, and it’s so not like me to have an outburst. I totally agree you should think before you speak and ask yourself if you’re actually sorry, and I love your suggestion of saying thank you, it’s polite and doesn’t leave you feeling as vulnerable or guilty for no reason.
Caught myself almost apologizing several x today already 🤪
Building on my ever growing list of things I am thankful for needs to become my new “normal”
Actually made me think each time how to find the “good” in stuff when it’s really 💩…
“Thank you for listening, being a friend, or even Ty for being comfortable to share that 💩 with me” seems to actually make people feel better about whatever then “I’m sorry” could. I suspect if I am in the wrong I will still apologize for error (as I thank whomever for their understanding!)
This rings so so true for me! Something I definitely need to improve on. Well said Becca!
I realized this about myself some time ago and made a conscious effort to not say sorry. Every time it slipped, I mentally slapped myself on the hand and thought to myself, “Wait, no, I am not sorry!” It’s crazy how I stumbled across this article that verbalizes exactly what I was experiencing.
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I realized this about myself some time ago and made a conscious effort to stop saying sorry. Every time it slipped, I mentally slapped the back of my hand and thought to myself, “Wait, no, I am not sorry!” It’s crazy how I stumbled across this article that verbalizes exactly what I was experiencing.