For many people, the word ¨sorry¨ has become something we constantly use, regardless of whether we’ve done anything wrong. Even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with apologizing for things you have done wrong, in this case, this seemingly irrelevant habit, can cause major problems in our lives. Let us try to help you stop apologizing for everything.
Here’s the problem. When you say ¨sorry¨ so often it becomes your primary response to any uncomfortable situation you find yourself in, you not only change your way of thinking but also your behavior in social environments. What does that mean? Well, it’s simple actually.
Example: You start your messages or emails with: ¨Sorry to bother you, but…¨ or you are in a meeting and disagree with your colleague. So, you say, ¨I’m sorry, but I disagree…¨ before even stating your opinion.
So that sorry, that comes rushing out of your mouth, does that before your brain even processed the whole information of what happened. And it really doesn’t matter if you are a CEO of a company or just starting out in a team, or even with your friends and family, saying these three words automatically puts you in a position where your efforts, commitments, opinions, experiences, etc., are devalued and minimized.
Why Do We Do That And Why Should We Stop
These apology impulses we get can come from many ways and of course, they depend on the person’s life, personality and external influences. Psychologists say that research showed us that women tend to apologize more than men, which can happen because of their natural desire for nurture. But, also the researchers found out that men do have a lower offense threshold than women, as they were both given hypothetical offense situations (snapping at a friend when grumpy, slacking in a group project etc.) which women perceived as more severe and thus, were in more need of an apology. Psychologists interpreted that data informing that men are less attuned to social situations meaning they don’t notice certain situations as offensive, while women, sometimes are over-attuned to what is happening around them.
Another reason why we might be finding ourselves in situations where we tend to over-apologize is simply because since the young age, we have been asked and taught to be polite in order to be accepted into groups. While we show other people we are polite, we gain their respect. But it can become problematic, when we hold their respect above our own, above the respect, we have for ourselves and so we give others´ opinions and emotions over ours.
Unnecessary apologies also send the message that you are trying to avoid conflict. This is not surprising because most people describe a conflict in negative terms so naturally, they tend to stay away from it, in this case by saying sorry and ending the dispute. But conflict isn’t really negative on its own, it can be very fruitful and gain you benefits when faced head on.
Finally, one more reason of simply saying sorry is *drum roll* our anxiety. This is also, the most common reason to why people tend to go back in their shells and just apologize for no reason. Anxiety automatically puts us in a position of inferiority towards the person we are apologizing to, therefore, accepting the blame without even having some say to why that is. That way, you kick down your self-esteem leaving it exposed to further repetitive situations in which you will be perceived as powerless.
Constantly apologizing, for no matter what reason, can and will have negative side effects on your personal life, career, and interpersonal relationships. Those situations can vary from giving the appearance of incompetence, submissive behavior and generally making you a pushover that others will try to take advantage of, at work and at home. Not only are you accepting the responsibility for all that goes wrong (before it even goes wrong), but you are also telling yourself you are incompetent to do anything right.
You Needlessly Create Guilt In Your Mind And You Undermine our Own Self-Esteem
How Can You Stop Over-Apologizing?
Ask Yourself Questions:
- Did I actually do something wrong?¨
- and if not, ¨Did I really want to communicate that I think I did?¨
These questions will help you reprogram your brain to look at apologizing differently and give you some time to stop your automatic response. You’ll begin to separate your unnecessary apologies from your real apologies in accordance to the situations you are in.
Identify The Triggers Of Your Sorry’s
Try to think about the situations in which you tend to apologize for no reason.
- Is it just with certain people in your family, co-workers, friends?
- Is it with people who you find intimidating or dominant?
- Is it when you feel uncomfortable?
Usually, when we react in a certain way, it means there is a situation triggering our feelings and behavior to which we got used to over time. So by finding out what that situation, feeling, or behavior is, you can start getting more and more control and eventually stop apologizing unnecessarily.
Replace The Apologies With Correct Statements
This is absolutely one of the hardest steps you will have to do if you want to change your habit of saying ¨I’m sorry¨. So don’t feel bad if at first it doesn’t seem like it is working. Your brain is used to a certain pattern you will be trying to change, and that type of reprogramming takes time, effort and a lot of unsuccessful attempts.
When you catch yourself saying sorry out of the blue for canceling plans, there is no shame in stating what you really wanted to say in the first place. There is no verbal police that will keep you from speaking your mind. So take your time and say what you really wanted to say before you start kicking yourself down for being honest.
Let Go Of What You Think Others Want You To Be
As most of the apologizing come from our own interpretations of how we should have reacted, just simply try and let go of others expectations of you. Defining your own values will give you a clear sense for how to handle different situations and make decisions that come from your own internal interpretation. Notice and appreciate that you have skills and competencies that people can recognize even when you don’t say ¨I’m sorry¨ to get their attention. Don’t deny your own power, because you think you will impose on others.
Try Positive Self-Talk And Affirmations
Affirmations are personalized mantras that help you gain confidence in yourself and use this confidence to create positive change. The trick to positive affirmations is they have to come from a feeling of belief. They won’t work unless you actually believe what you are saying. So in the beginning just try and find something small you know about yourself. Saying the actual reason why you are like that will give it some backbone to support it.
Example: I am a good friend because I actively listen to my friends in need, and I try to help them however I can.
Positive self-talk gives you a way to turn the negative thoughts that feed insecurities into encouraging and helpful thoughts which can help you stop apologizing. So whenever you feel a negative thought coming, or you start thinking it, try and find a new way to face your brain. For every negative message, there is a positive truth that will override the weight, as for every problem, there is a solution.
Example: ¨I have to do better, this wasn’t good enough, it was horrible!¨ turn into ¨I know that with time and effort I can achieve my goal.¨