Unless you are some sort of perfect creature (and none of us are), apologies are a necessary part of life. It is the only way we can really have relationships with significant others, friends, and family. The two most powerful words in the English language will always be “I’m Sorry”. As a result, it’s important that we cop to our mistakes. However, there is a fine line between admitting to a mistake and constantly saying sorry, even when we did nothing wrong. Just like eating too much chocolate can make our stomachs hurt, saying I’m sorry too often can cause harm in our relationships as well as our mental health. There have been many studies conducted on the psychology behind saying sorry too often. Most of the research points squarely at self-criticism. When we are extremely self-critical we tend to blame ourselves for a variety of things, even if they aren’t our fault. When people feel shame or guilt, the are likely to apologize for anything just to get some reassurance from others. Here is just a sample of things that we all need to stop apologizing for and start accepting ourselves exactly as we are.
In any relationship, sharing thoughts and feelings is an important component that needs to be addressed. However, letting someone know how you feel does not mean that any negative emotion comes doused in an apology. Feeling a variety of emotions is human and natural. It’s the fault of your partner if he or she can’t handle the variety of emotions, you bring to the relationship. Apologizing for your feelings is not something that creates healthy relationships.
On the flip side, sharing your feelings can also find its way to the other extreme which can be unhealthy. Gushing over your partner on a regular basis can lose its effect. Saying “I Love You” needs to always have meaning behind it, which means it shouldn’t just be said unless the feelings are there.
How often have you found yourself apologizing for wearing sweats instead of jeans? It’s all too common especially in women, to jump into a mea culpa for looking tired or having a bad hair day. Who said we always have to look our best? When did it become the standard to always look perfect? When we apologize for the way we look we are really just expressing a lack of self-confidence and self-compassion. We all just need to give ourselves a break and accept ourselves exactly as we are. Obviously, our offices have dress codes that need to be followed and a food-stained sweatshirt is really not appropriate attire. However, if you are going over to the coffee shop down the street with some old t-shirt from high school and unwashed hair, don’t worry. Apologizing for not taking time out to primp for a day of running errands is simply uncalled for.
Needing Time To Yourself
We have all read the various pieces discussing introverts and extroverts. By now, it’s common knowledge that introverts need their alone time in order to re-charge their batteries and get the energy to show up and be the best version of themselves. However, with that comes the desire to say no or cancel plans that may interfere with any introverts alone time. Commonly, introverts will often feel guilty for their need to have alone time because they are known to be overthinkers and people-pleasers. As such, they are stuck in a lose-lose situation. On the other hand, seeing this situation from a different perspective can allow introverts to feel free of the guilt that they typically endure when canceling plans for some much needed time alone. Introverts, it is completely okay to say no to plans in order to recharge and spend some time alone. We all live extremely busy lives and having some respite from the hectic world is needed to clear our minds. If your friends don’t respect your wishes then maybe you need to find better friends who understand the importance of your alone time.
Asking A Question
How often have you thought your question was too stupid so you apologized for asking it? This is another common female trait that needs to stop. When we apologize for our curiosity we invalidate ourselves. Often we do this because we fear that a peer will roll their eyes at out subpar knowledge. However, requesting help or clarification is not something that deserves an apology attached to it. If someone decides to judge you for asking a question, it is most likely a projection of their own insecurities.
Other People’s Behavior
The only time it is acceptable to apologize for anyone else’s behavior other than your own is when you’ve introduced someone to a person who treats them rudely. Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason to apologize for someone else’s behavior. The way other people act is completely and utterly out of your control. This can be extremely difficult for control freaks to comprehend. However, releasing the need to control everything and everyone is the only way to become mentally healthier in our everyday lives. As a result, if you are simply someone who is found apologizing for bumping into someone on the street, choose ‘excuse me’ instead of ‘I’m sorry’. It’s a step in the right direction towards reducing the number of things we apologize for daily.
Not Responding Immediately To A Text
This can also apply to a phone call, email, or any other social media activity. We can’t always get back to a friend or a loved one in even a reasonable amount of time. We may see the initial message but be bombarded with work at the time and then simply forget to respond. Whatever the reasons, there is absolutely no need to apologize for not getting back to the person sooner. Unless there is an urgent emergency, in which case the other person will probably bombard you with attempts at reaching you, there is nothing that needs to be urgently responded too. When we apologize for sending a text back to our friend an hour later, we are saying that our lives are less important than the other persons. And this is simply false. To avoid apologizing in these situations when you become engulfed with texts that you feel need a response. Simply text back “I haven’t forgotten about you. I am just swamped at work.” This appeases the people-pleaser in all of us without rejecting our self-worth and self-respect.
Circumstances That Are Out Of Our Control
The all too common situation when we to our friend complaining about their in-laws, unhappy relationship, or nagging boss. Since we often don’t know how to respond, we simply respond with an apology by saying “I’m sorry to hear that”. No, you are not! This needs to stop immediately. While it is natural to feel sorry for the person going through a difficult and stressful situation, it was not caused by us. In fact, we literally have no control over the situation being described to us. As a result, apologizing for this simply makes no common sense and yet we always apologize for things that are out of our control. When you find yourself in this conundrum, instead of saying the dreaded “I’m Sorry”, choose to actually convey what you mean like “I’m sorry that happened”. This phrase sounds a lot less like you’re actually taking the blame for the situation and what happened to a friend and releasing any connotations of the fault being placed upon you.
In the end, apologizing when we clearly hurt someone is necessary and important for any healthy relationship to stand the test of time. However, saying sorry for things that we are not responsible for can not only invalidate us and reinforce feelings of low self-esteem, it can trivialize the act of apologizing and give others the impression that we are somehow less capable.
Now, I’d love to hear from all of you! Let me know if any of the suggestions work for you? Let’s continue the discussion below with more suggestions of ways to avoid apologizing for things that don’t deserve an apology!