Life Advice : How to Stop Apologizing
How to Stop Apologizing
When we are constantly apologizing, we send everyone around us the message that we are in a "sorry" state. While there are many circumstances for which apologies are appropriate, over-apologizing causes us to internalize feelings of guilt for simply being who we are. We may begin with good intentions; it is important to be kind, caring, and sensitive. Ironically, though, excessive apologies can isolate and confuse others around us. Once you understand what underlies habitual apologizing, you can take steps to change.
Understanding Habitual Apologizing
Recognize how over-apologizing reflects on you.Apologizing too much signals to ourselves and others that we are ashamed or regretful of something about our very presence. This is best seen in situations where you clearly did nothing wrong in the moment (e.g., bumping into a chair and apologizing to it). If there is nothing to take the blame for, why do you apologize?
- Emotionally sensitive people who care about the feelings and experiences of others more than their own may over-apologize. This can result in a steady but hard to recognize disrespect or denial of one's own value.
- Studies have shown that apologies more frequently reflect shame than a belief that a wrong has been committed.
Acknowledge gender differences.Men tend to apologize much less frequently than women, and research suggests that this is because women tend to have a wider sense of what constitutes offensive behavior.Men often have a very limited sense of what might be seen as offensive. Because more possible offenses exist in women's perceptions, they are likely to feel responsible more often than men do.
- Excessive apologizing in women is partly an issue of social conditioning for which you are not at fault. While changing this habit requires effort, it can be comforting to know that it is not necessarily something "wrong" with you.
Examine the effects on others.How are others in your life affected when you apologize too often? Not only are you likely to be discounted as inadequate or incompetent, but people close to you may begin to suffer, too.Apologizing may cause others to feel isolated for not understanding the offense or as if they are so threatening and harsh that their behavior is causing you to apologize frequently.
- For example, if you say "sorry, I arrived a few minutes early" the other person may wonder what is causing you to walk on eggshells with her. Perhaps she will also feel that her big smile when you walked in early was ignored or unappreciated.
Tracking and Changing your Apologies
Be aware.How much apologizing is too much? If the following sound familiar, you may be going overboard. Note how all of these apologies are all excuses for normal, non-harmful actions and states.
- "I'm sorry, I don't want to bother you."
- "I'm sorry, I just went for a jog and now I'm all sweaty."
- "I'm sorry, my house is a mess right now."
- "I'm sorry, I think I forgot to put salt on the popcorn."
Track your apologies.Make a mental or written note of all the things you apologize for and take a good look at them. Ask yourself whether or not what you did was either intentional or harmful. After all, these are the conditions that really require apologies.
- Try tracking your apologies in this way for a week.
- You might find that many of your apologies seem to be aimed at avoiding confrontation or maybe appearing more humble and sweet.
Re-learn when apologies are in order.Notice whether or not the apology feels as if you have cleared up something that offended another person or your standards for yourself. Try to get a sense for when it feels perfunctory, as if you have to cover your bases to make room or subtly ask permission for your actions and opinions.
- If you feel lost, start by drawing the line at your role in an event and leave it at that. This can be particularly difficult if you are someone who apologizes on behalf of others in order to nip conflict in the bud. However, apologizing on others' behalf often leads to feelings of resentment, as you are taking on others' responsibilities in addition to your own.
- When to apologize is always a judgment call; it won't be the same for everyone.
Swap apologies for a silly word.As you begin to notice the unnecessary apologies, swap it for a word like "humdinger" or "beep-bop". This pairs unnecessary apologies with a feeling of ridiculousness that comes with the silly word and improves your ability to keep tracking your apologies
- Without replacing frequent apologizing with other qualifiers, you run the risk of slipping back into apology land.
- Use this trick while you are tracking your apologies. Then you can begin replacing apologies with more meaningful expressions of care.
Show gratitude.In some situations, it may be more appropriate to simply say "thank you". For instance, say your friend goes to take out the trash before you get to it. In lieu of apologizing for not having done the chore fast enough, give credit where it is due. Focus on your friend having stepped up rather than what you think you should have done.
- This unburdens you from feeling responsible and creating guilt where it is not, and unburdens your friend from having to reassure you that taking out the trash wasn't a bother.
Try using empathy as an alternative.Empathy is the ability to put yourself in others' shoes, and you can use it to build solidarity (as you may have been trying to do through apologizing).Empathy will be more highly valued to your loved ones than showing guilt because you are showing concern without effacing yourself in the process.
- Instead of making those in your life feel that you are indebted to them, make them feel heard and understood.
- You could try talking about how they may feel about a situation. For example, if a person has had a bad day at work, try saying something like, "That sounds like it was rough" instead of "I'm sorry." This allows the other person to know that you're paying attention to how she feels.
Laugh at yourself instead.There are many instances where we want to express an awareness of our own goofiness, and this can be done without apologizing. Say you accidentally spill some coffee or suggest a restaurant that you then find is closed. Instead of presenting your awareness of the accident with an apology, present it with laughter. Humor is a good way to soften tension in situations and help others feel at ease.
- If you laugh at mistakes instead of apologize, you and everyone around you will see that you have acknowledged a misstep. Laughing makes the best of this misstep by helping you take it a little less seriously.
Addressing Root Issues for Long-Term Change
Question yourself.What is it that you are doing with your apologies? Trying to minimize yourself or come off differently? Maybe you are trying to avoid conflict or seek approval. Explore these questions thoroughly. Try free-writing your answers to see your knee jerk opinions about the issue.
- Also consider who you apologize to most often. Your significant other? Your boss? Examine these relationships and what your apologies are accomplishing with those specific people.
Explore your feelings.When you apologize too often, you may end up with a stifled internal sense of your feelings. The apology may become about the end result of being seen differently by someone else and less about your your own feelings of the situation. Dig into your feelings when you are tempted to apologize and notice what you find.
- Oftentimes apologies correspond to feelings of inadequacy which can be resolved through acceptance of oneself and a renewed look at your power and worth.
- When working on adjusting longstanding habits tied to self-esteem, the assistance of a therapist or other mental health professional can be useful.
Accept your mistakes.As we know, everyone makes mistakes. This means you don't need to apologize for having a stain on your shirt or needing three tries to get your parallel parking just right.These mistakes may be silly or embarrassing, but knowing that everyone is fallible will help you realize that making mistakes is not a big deal, and we don't need to be hyper-focused on our errors. This focus holds us back from growth and change.
- Recognize that your mistakes are what help you grow. If a mistake causes you inconvenience or even pain, there is always the opportunity to learn from the experience and grow from it.
Eliminate residual guilt.Endless apologies and self-recrimination are an indication that you have become a guiltypersonrather than just feeling guilty for wrongdoings.Start working through your guilt by making efforts to be more compassionate toward yourself, adjusting unrealistic standards, and recognizing that which you cannot control.
- For example, you may believe that you "should" be a cheerful person all the time and feel guilty when you are not. However, this is an unrealistic standard for yourself as we all have our bad days. Instead, show yourself a little compassion when you're not feeling like your usual cheerful self. Tell yourself, "Today I'm having a hard day, and that's okay. All of us have hard days sometimes, so I will let myself feel how I feel. I will not let others push me to be happy when I don't feel like it."
- Remember that there's only so much you can control in life. In fact, you can only control your own actions and responses. For example, if you leave in plenty of time to get to a meeting and still end up arriving late because of an unforeseen traffic accident, this is not your fault as it was not within your control. You can explain what happened, but you don't have to feel guilty or apologize for it.
Develop your values.An overly apologetic style sometimes shows a lack of defined values. This is because apologizing focuses on others' reactions to know what is right and wrong. Instead of basing your value system on others' approval, take steps to develop your own values.
- Defining your values will give you a clear sense for how to handle different situations and make decisions that come from your own internal compass.
- For example, consider a few people whom you admire. What do you respect about them? How can you implement these values in your own life?
Move relationships forward.Frequent apologizing can have many detrimental effects on relationships. As you are changing your speech away from frequent apologies, let people close to you know what you are doing and why.Without apologizingfor your past behavior, tell loved ones that you are making a change that you hope will positively impact you and hopefully them too.
Embrace your power.Saying "sorry" is also used as a way to make a direct statement, or to speak your mind, without coming across as bossy or aggressive. So, chances are good that over-apologizing downplays your power and softens what you do.Embrace your power by realizing that power does not mean that you are violent or selfish deep down.
Find other sources of reassurance.Apologies are often requests for reassurance from those we care about. When we hear friends, family, or others we respect say "it's okay" or "don't worry about it", we understand that we will still be loved and accepted by them despite perceived shortcomings. The following are some tools for reassuring yourself so that you don't need to seek it through apologizing to others:
- Affirmations are personalized mantras that help you gain confidence in yourself and use this confidence to create positive change, for example, "I am good enough, just as I am."
- Positive self-talk gives you a way to turn the negative thoughts that feed insecurities into encouraging and helpful thoughts. For example, next time you hear your inner critic say something unhelpful, challenge it with a positive statement: "I have good ideas, and people believe they are worth hearing."
QuestionWhat if affirmations and positive self-talk just make me feel worse?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThen they're not coming from a genuine place. An alternative would be reflecting on the source of the need to apologize, and if an apology is the right fit for this social circumstance, reflecting to the other person that you and he/she are on an equal field.Thanks!
QuestionIf I bump into someone, is it okay to say 'sorry?"wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you should apologize when you bump into someone. It is polite.Thanks!
QuestionI feel like I'm being inconsiderate if I don't apologize to people. I feel like I'm not worth their time and I want to apologize for that. Is that normal?Susan ButlerCommunity AnswerPause before apologizing. Before saying sorry, stop and ask yourself this: “Have I actually done anything wrong here?” Express compassion differently. Know your triggers. Phrase questions carefully. Turn apologies Into gratitude.Thanks!
- If someone gives you advice, you can respond with a simple "Okay, I'll keep that in mind, thank you!" instead of apologizing.
Sources and Citations
In other languages:
Español: , Português: , Italiano: , Deutsch: , Русский: , Français: , Bahasa Indonesia: , Nederlands: , Tiếng Việt: , العربية: , 한국어: , ไทย:
Video: You need to stop apologizing | Mel Robbins
10 Surprising Facts About How Hollywood Sex Scenes Really Get Made
Tomato and Watermelon Salad
The Year of the American Woman
How to Get a Degree in Information Technology
How to Make a Paraffin Wax Treatment for Hands and Feet
Minding Your Money Manners
5 Buys: Army Jackets
How to Choose the Right Appliance Repair Service in Your Area
How to Beat Bacteria on Plague Inc (Mega Brutal)