Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

As women, most of us are so conditioned to apologize for every little thing we do, even when it is not necessary. I have been guilty of this for as long as I can remember, with “sorry” slipping out of my mouth countless times a day. This realization sparked something in me – I decided to start counting just exactly how many times a day I actually muttered the word, and for what reasons. How often did I really say sorry? Was I apologizing for things that needed apologies? The results were shocking, tallying up to even more often than I expected. It was clear that I was definitely guilty of over-apologizing.

Once I started recording the data, I noticed that I would repeatedly apologize for the same thing even after someone has said it’s okay, and I even noticed I was sometimes even apologizing for apologizing! My girlfriend has known that I’ve been trying to work on this, so whenever I would say sorry for something when an apology wasn’t even necessary, she would say “Why are you saying sorry?” Instinctively, I would respond with something like “I don’t know, I’m sorry.” Ridiculous, right?

Sign that reads “you are worthy of love”
Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels
This made me wonder why I was doing this so much and why so many other women have found themselves in a similar predicament. Perhaps we have been so accustomed to feeling like we are in the wrong when we are not. Perhaps we could be lacking confidence in ourselves and our actions. Perhaps, we could just be blurting it out due to our nerves, or perhaps we might be fighting any chance of ourselves coming across as rude. Of course, it is more than okay to apologize for some wrongdoing – in fact, it’s the right thing to do. However, there are alternatives routes we can first drive down instead of immediately steering ourselves into the “sorry” lane.

As a first step, we can pause. Ask yourself questions like “Am I actually sorry?” and “What am I sorry for?” and even “Do I need to apologize for this?” If your problem with “sorry” is anything like mine, you might likely not even be sorry because you didn’t even do anything wrong. Although, if you do feel this way, move on to the next step: before you apologize, take the time to ask the person first if they were bothered, or if you did something wrong. If the response is no, we must accept that nothing wrong was done and there is no need for an apology.

"You Got This" sign with iPhone next to it
Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

Another intervention strategy that has really worked for me is to change the wording of your apology entirely so it essentially is not an apology at all. For instance, if you show up late to a meeting or just a casual dinner with friends, instead of saying “Sorry for being late!” we can change this to “Thank you for your patience while I was running late” or “I appreciate you waiting for me.” This simple manipulation of words greatly morphs our outlook on the situation from a negative one to a positive one.

All of these tactics serve to positively transform our thinking of ourselves and our interactions with others. If we are always apologizing, then we are always thinking we are in the wrong, hurting others, messing things up. By doing this we are constantly lowering our confidence and making ourselves believe that everything is our fault, which can lead us to be super insecure in many different areas of life as well as draw on feelings of guilt and shame. Instead, we can pause before we automatically let out that “sorry,” ponder if it actually needs to be said, and change our wording to something more positive. From this, we can strengthen our self-esteem and self-image.

Stephanie Morley

West Chester '21

Hey, my name's Steph Morley! I am a senior at West Chester University and I am majoring in Psychology. I love to write, read, bake/cook, binge tv shows, and do makeup. Her Campus has been such a great way for me to get more involved on campus, meet some incredible ladies, and have some of my work published. I love what Her Campus stands for; it is an amazing platform for college students to share their stories, opinions, and more.
Contributor account.