“I’m sorry” Every day this two-word, seven letter phrase comes out of my mouth more times than I can count. For as long as I can remember my friends, teammates and even teachers have constantly told me to stop apologizing. My superlative in high school was “Class Apologizer” – it basically became a personality trait for me. While I usually brush it off as a joke, as I am going through life, gaining new experiences and meeting new people, I am beginning to realize the downsides of this. Nicknamed the “Sorry Syndrome,” research has shown that over-apologizing is a common issue that can actually stem from childhood experiences, insecurities, anxiety or even gender.
Although the reasoning behind it may be different for everyone, over-apologizing can be harmful to one’s job, relationships with others and mental health. When we continually say, “I’m sorry” it causes us to shift blame onto ourselves which can lower our self-esteem. It traps us in a mindset where we feel that we are less than; that we are not deserving or capable of having a contradicting opinion. Although it may not seem this way, when apologies become ingrained in our everyday speech, they have a detrimental effect on our mental health. Another disadvantage found with over-apologizing, is that it causes us to display a lack of strength and sense of authority. This makes us seem vulnerable which can unfortunately lead to others taking advantage of us. For me personally, I have found that I apologize more when I need to be assertive. While I am trying to have a stronger voice and stand up for myself more, I notice that I tend to hide behind my apologies. Saying sorry is comfortable for me, but in the long run it prevents me from being confident in my decisions. Bottom line, this is a difficult habit to break, but if you’re like me here are three tips that I am currently utilizing to help me stop apologizing.
1. Make a conscious effort to acknowledge when you apologize. Since being at school this semester, I noticed that one of my friends also apologizes an insane amount. Hearing her say sorry for things that are not her fault in the slightest makes me realize what I must be like for others. This is helping me recognize how much I apologize which encourages me to stop. So, I urge you to simply listen to yourself. Make a mental note whenever you notice yourself apologizing, and you’ll realize that you say it a lot more than you think.
2. Don’t use apologizing as a form of politeness. I recently realized that I am very guilty of this. Whenever I meet strangers, I always try to be polite and that usually comes with a lot of apologies. For example, if I ever have to interrupt someone, or even when I walk through crowds, I often apologize instead of saying excuse me. Although this may seem miniscule, I believe that this is one of the reasons why I say sorry so much. Constantly repeating it in these situations has caused apologies to become a dominating part of my everyday dialogue. I am learning that I can still be polite without apologizing and this is an important idea to accept.
3. Lastly, something that I’ve seen all over Instagram recently is to replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you.” This can apply to almost any situation where meaningless apologies are used and is therefore a great alternative. This is so important because saying thank you establishes a positive mindset opposed to a negative mentality of tearing yourself down. Constantly reaffirming gratitude instead of blame will cause you to feel happier throughout each day.
I get it, trying to break the habit of over-apologizing is tough, but with these tips you’ll find that you are more confident and less contradictive of yourself. Although apologizing may seem harmless, breaking free of the sorry cycle will help you live a more carefree, productive and happy life.