Over Apologizing for Everything? 5 Ways to Stop Saying Sorry Too Much
Do you have a tendency of over-apologizing? Are you the sort of person who blurts “sorry!” when someone collides with you in the street? Even when it’s entirely their fault?
For example, do you apologize for making a perfectly reasonable request at a restaurant? Or seek forgiveness for unpleasant circumstances beyond your control?
If those scenarios sound uncomfortably familiar to you, you’re not alone. Saying sorry too much is a common problem (especially among women). However, over apologizing all the time could mean you’re essentially saying sorry for your existence. Over time this not only undermines your self-worth but also your capacity to manifest an abundant life.
If you find yourself saying sorry too much, read on to learn why you do it and how to develop strategies that can help you stop.
Common Traits of People Saying Sorry Too Much
While “sorry syndrome” is a pervasive issue that is experienced by all sorts of people, there are certain common traits that overlap with this tendency. In particular:
- Compassion. People who care a lot about the feelings and preferences of others often find themselves over apologizing when they’ve done nothing wrong.
- Submissiveness in relationships. Those who are prone to saying sorry too much in a relationship often give their partner the message that they feel it’s wrong to have their own personal boundaries or needs.
- Agreeability. If you care a lot about keeping the peace and preventing conflict, you’re likely to say sorry more than is necessary. After all, you’d rather give an unneeded apology than end up in a fight.
- Lack of faith in one’s own judgment. When you’re never quite confident that what you’re doing or saying is right, you can be quick to apologize and simply assume you’re in the wrong.
- Strict background. Whether you were raised in a strict schooling environment or by particularly authoritarian parents, spending your childhood in fear of discipline can make you trigger-happy with apologies.
- Anxiety. Living with an underlying sense of impending doom can lead you to be ultra-sensitive to the idea of situations or relationships going awry, which in turn can spark a disproportionate amount of apologies.
What is the Psychology Behind “Apologizing Too Much”?
Apologizing too much (or “over-apologizing disorder”) can have a wide variety of background explanations. Some of them are indicated in the personality traits as discussed above. For example, a difficult upbringing, a past of emotional abuse and a naturally high level of compassion for others can all lead to constantly saying sorry.
However, regardless of the nuances of your personal life, studies show that there’s likely a root cause of excessively over apologizing.
Research conducted at Harvard Business School indicates that we make superfluous apologies with the goal of building or maintain trust. This study does indeed establish that we trust people (even strangers) more if they make unnecessary apologies when they approach us. So, there is an adaptive reason for the behavior. In fact, less than 10% of participants gave a stranger their phone when asked without a superfluous apology. However, closer to 50% let the stranger borrow their phone if the request was prefaced with the comment “I’m really sorry about this rain!”
5 Ways To Stop Saying Sorry Too Much
While apologizing can be a powerful tool for building trust and improving social cohesion, it’s vital to be able to assert yourself and view yourself as having the right to make your way in the world.
If you’re constantly apologizing, you send the signal to the Universe that you are meek, unsure and undeserving. An unnecessary “sorry” has huge potential to undermine your manifestation power. Therefore, it pays to cut back. But how can you do this?
1. Pause Before Apologising
Before saying sorry, stop and ask yourself this: “Have I actually done anything wrong here?”. If the answer is no, do not apologize! The urge can be easier to resist if you ask this follow-up question: “If I didn’t do something wrong here, do I really want people to think I believe that I did?”
2. Express Compassion Differently
If you worry about sharing difficult emotions, note that there are other ways to show compassion and empathy. Instead of constantly apologizing in a relationship, say something like “I know that’s tough to hear” or “You can always tell me when you’re upset.”
3. Know Your Triggers
Do a quick brainstorming session and write down 10 things that make you want to apologize. For example, bumping into a stranger or asking someone to do something for you. For each item, think of something you could say instead. Spend a week focusing on just one, trying to entirely eliminate “sorry” from that context.
4. Phrase Questions Carefully
There’s no need to over-apologize when you need clarification, so don’t say sorry when you ask. Instead, experiment with questions like “Could you please say a bit more about that for me?” or “Can you please help me understand this better, maybe by using an example?”
5. Turn Apologies Into Gratitude
The next time you feel an apology rising up inside you, think of a way to rephrase it into a statement of gratitude. For example, “I’m sorry you had to run that errand” can easily become “I’m so grateful you did me this favor!”. Not only is this more pleasing to the hearer, but it focuses your mind on positivity and abundance. This can help you attract even more positivity.
So now, if this article has highlighted that you hold any of these traits, then it is up to you to chip them away one by one.
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And finally, if you have any other effective tips on how to stop apologizing so much, please share them and comment below!