I’ll admit it. This is something that I did for a long time and let me tell you – it’s a bad habit.
When I was younger, I was very non-confrontational. I was the type of kid who thought that everything could be resolved without conflict. I learned that if you just said sorry and moved on with your life, things normally went pretty smoothly. And this is true to some extent. You have to be careful though. In my case, there came a point where I became so accustomed to apologizing that I started saying it compulsively.
Even when it didn’t make sense. Even if I did nothing wrong. Even if nothing was wrong.
Sorry became my go-to word to blurt out when I felt uncomfortable, awkward, or embarrassed.
This is the crux of the issue.
When you’re constantly apologizing, you can trick yourself into thinking that you’ve done something wrong. It’s very easy to think, “I always have to apologize because I’m always screwing things up.” But again, that wasn’t even the case. It was the other way around. I conditioned myself to always be sorry and this formed a negative feedback loop. My default was to be sorry, which lowered my self-esteem, which negatively impacted my performance, which in turn actually gave me something to be sorry for. I had created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another negative byproduct of over-apologizing is opening yourself up to bullies and abuse. Don’t let people use you as their scapegoat. Because let me tell you something about humans – Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. When things go wrong, people are already looking for someone to blame. It’s never their fault and taking responsibility is in short supply. So when you just offer up “sorry”, you’re signaling to others, “I have something to be sorry for.” In other words, it’s my fault. People will jump all over it.
Take responsibility for yourself and focus on what you can control
Now, for the record, I take full responsibility for my life and I have no problem apologizing if I’ve done something wrong. We all make mistakes and sometimes all you can do is apologize.
Some people apologize too often and some not often enough. I strive to be somewhere in the middle.
Now I look at it differently. I apologize for my mistakes but I don’t carry the sorriness with me. I learn from my mistakes and I move on.
I wrote this because I’m sure there are other serial-apologists out there.
And I’m letting you know that if you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will either. And over-apologizing will only hurt your self-esteem and make you a target.
Be confident, always do your best, and do right by others.
If you do this, you won’t have much to be sorry for anyway.
That’s all for this one!
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