Don’t Be Sorry. Apologize and Grow Stronger

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. 

“Sorry.”

Even when it didn’t make sense. Even if I did nothing wrong. Even if nothing was wrong. 

“Sorry.”

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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9 comments

  1. Failures and mistakes aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but not learning from them always is.

  2. Great article! This was something that I struggled with for a long time. I always thought I was the bigger person by saying I was sorry. Little did I know, I was just using it as a defense mechanism to diffuse any and every potentially bad situation

    1. Thank you Conor! Sounds like we’ve had similar struggles in that regard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. πŸ™‚

  3. Words of wisdom! I have a co-worker who is very hard working, diligent, and sweet as can be. She is also a serial apologist – she has said sorry for *other* people’s mistakes even. She is aware of it and once I brought it to her attention, and defended her, she’s made an effort to be more confident.

    It’s easy to fall into habits. I actually didn’t stop the habit until someone called me out on it as well. It’s important to break that feedback loop – but once you do, the confidence builds!

    1. Hey Atlas!

      I agree. Once we’re made aware of the problem, we can take steps towards fixing it. I think the biggest issue is when we fall into these sorts of habits without realizing it. We trick ourselves into believing that’s who we truly are. Instead of it just being the result of a negative feedback loop like you said.

      Thank you for sharing and I appreciate your kind words. πŸ™‚

  4. I have a similar attitude as you when about saying sorry for everything. Most of time there is no reason to be blamed at all.
    I will try to police me to stop doing it.
    Great article!

    1. Hey Brittle! Thank you. It takes a bit of practice to un-train yourself, but you can do it. I still find myself doing it occasionally, but I just make sure to take note of it and try to avoid it next time πŸ™‚

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