Apologize Too Much? Stop!

11
Aug

 

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Do you apologize to keep the peace?

To minimize confrontation with others?

Do you apologize too much?

This is powerful stuff.

My daughter tells me that I apologize so often that she has learned to over apologize as well.

I am deeply sorry that I passed on this wretched habit.

And now I’m determined to stop it.

First, I have to understand the root of it.

 

Why Do People Over Apologize?

For many reasons.

Consider what some over-apologizers say ‘sorry’ about.

“For me, says Monica,“saying “sorry” was as natural to me as saying, “hello” or “good-bye.” If I’m at the grocery store and somebody hits me, I’m the one who says ‘sorry.'”

This behaviour can be sourced to low self-esteem, some form of trauma, or that damned people pleasing thing: Be nice, be deferential, take the hit, others will like it (like you more, too.) Not true, but some of us actually believe it.

It could be based in fear. Amanda Johncola says, “The biggest reason I apologize for everything is because I am so afraid of people leaving me.”

It could be conditioning. Maybe you learned early on that apologizing keeps other people happy. “Blame and shame usually trickled down the hierarchy in my family,” says Audrey S. Lee, “and usually landed at my feet…So from early on, I started apologizing first, just to get it out of the way.”

What about fear of reprisal? “Most of all I’ve noticed the hidden message behind [an] apology,” says Christina Ammerman. As in, “don’t hate me because I made a mistake.”

I, like many others, have been known to apologize for nonsensical reasons. I learned early on that I could keep the wrath of others at bay with apologies. I even apologized for situations (gone sour) that I was not even present for, because keeping the peace was that essential to my sense of security.

Sad !

While the act of offering an apology is commendable – Scientific American says that those with higher self-esteem tend to apologize, while those with narcissistic tendencies, lower self esteem, and shame do not – over apologizing is another matter altogether.

It’s the frequency of apologizing and what you are apologizing for that is a problem.

 

How To Stop The Sorry Nonsense

 

With Awareness. Have you noticed how often you apologize? Does anyone else notice? Someone who cares about you will notice at some point, as my daughter has for me. Ultimately, you have to recognize this habit in yourself if you intend to change it.

 

Use Alternative Language. An example inspired by Juliana Breines Ph.D.: You forget to pick groceries off the kitchen floor. Your partner picks them up for you. Instead of  saying, “I’m sorry” for not picking them up yourself, say “thank you” acknowledging kindness, not misplaced guilt. Or, in the same vein, say ‘excuse me’ (not ‘sorry’) when you bump into someone by accident.

 

Think Before You Apologize. “…make sure to assess the situation to see if [an apology] is needed, says Julia Banim. For example, if you accidentally bump into someone, what are you sorry for? Being human? Comedienne and writer Sara Benincasa from this interview adds another point. “Take a second, take a breath, and ask yourself, am I really sorry?”

 

Stop Being A People Pleaser. No doubt, people pleasing is at the root of many an affliction. Wanting to be liked often leads to over apologizing. “‘Sorry’ is simply another way we downplay our power,” says Janice Goldman.

 

Understand The “I’m Sorry” Message. “When we apologize too much,” says Tamieria Vandegrift, “we are basically sending a message to others that we don’t matter…” In addition: “Saying sorry implies submission,” say writers at ba-bamail.com. “That’s why you have to be particularly selective when you actually come to say it.”

 

You Over Apologize? Okay. Now Deal.

Remember this.

Saying “I’m sorry” often leads people to see you as the one to blame. The guilty party. A weakling, a wuss. This is particularly true of people on power trips who will grab your apology even when they know an apology is not warranted.

Thusly: apologize when you need to.

Don’t apologize when you do not need to.

Building this new, healthy habit will take practice and time.

But when you stop apologizing so often, your self esteem will rise.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 11th, 2017 at 10:57 pm and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

comments

2

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  1. August 12th, 2017 | Jean walmsley says:

    Hi again Abby. My experience is that saying you are sorry is learned in your family,for many reasons…..some hood, some not so good. Altho I agree with your article about over apologizing, there are times when an apology is warranted. If that was not taught in your family, then as an adult, you likely do not apologize ever….ESP when you need to. and that can cause problems between mates over years. So there needs to be a middle course. So….teach your children to apologize when they have made a mistake or hurt someone, even inadvertently. Like everything in life there are many sides to the problem and It needs to be given mindful thought. Hugs. Jean

  2. August 14th, 2017 | abby says:

    Hi Jean: True about those who will NOT apologize. In the post I recounted my own experiences on that front: “there are people on power trips who will grab your apology even when they know an apology is not warranted.” (Hello narcissists.) And that “those with higher self-esteem tend to apologize, while those with narcissistic tendencies, lower self esteem, and shame do not…” But excessive apologizing by itself remains a big problem for empaths, people pleasers and HSPs who get swallowed by it. Apologizing IS essential when required. Over-apologizing, no. And the inability to apologize at all? A topic sure to show up in a future post, because I have lots of experience with that too, ugh, as do many people. Thanks for your comment!

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While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

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