Have you ever noticed how often you say sorry every day? I have, and I must admit that from the number of times I say it, it would seem that apologising is a favourite pastime of mine.
Both my sister and I have had our tendency to say sorry frequently pointed out to us several times in the past. But I only realised how little I had improved when I wrote an email the other day and instinctively wrote, “I’m sorry, I’m not well and can’t attend.”
As I reread my message I stopped in my tracks.
I was sorry for being sick? As if I had chosen to feel like there were knives in my throat and my nose was a tap that would not stop dripping.
That’s when I started to take note of how often I was apologising about things. Asking a shop assistant for help (“Sorry, but would you be able to help me out?”), apologising when people on their phones would bump into me, apologising for having commitments that were outside of my control… and so the list of superfluous sorries went on.
It’s not to say that apologising is a bad thing. In fact, taking ownership of a mistake or a bad situation that it is my fault and apologising for it can show a great deal of maturity respect.
But when apologising becomes an instinctual response, it not only loses its meaning, but it also starts to undervalue you – your opinions, actions, and beliefs. You don’t need to apologise for saying no to someone when you are already over-committed, or when you have a different opinion.
For those of you who are chronic sorry-ers like me, there are ways to break the habit. Once you become aware of how often and in what situations you start to say sorry, you can put steps in place to overcome the urge – and eventually only say sorry when it is truly necessary. I’ve outlined three ways to work towards this below.
Ways to stop saying “sorry” so much
- Count how many times you say sorry in a day and make note of what you are saying sorry for. Look at the number of times you were truly sorry compared to the number of times you apologised. This will increase your awareness so that you can prepare yourself for the situations you are most likely to unnecessarily apologise for.
- Ask yourself, “Do I actually need to apologise for this?”. If you haven’t made a terrible mistake or causes hurt in a situation, chances are you don’t need to.
- Start to reserve your apologies for when you are truly sorry, and note the impact that it makes. You will probably notice that you will come across far more confident by not prefaces requests with “sorry, but…” and the times that you say sorry will have far more meaning to everybody involved.
It takes courage to own your actions completely and to stand up for yourself – and it’s definitely easier said than done. This is a fantastic article about 8 common things to stop saying sorry for that really made me think.
But what are your thoughts on apologising? Do you say sorry too much? What kind of things do you say sorry for that you don’t need to? I would love for you to share in the comments below!