Do you find yourself apologizing… ALL the time? Many of us were raised to say sorry anytime we may have made a mistake, felt unsure, didn't have the right answer, hurt someone's feelings, 'rocked the boat', or simply when we weren't enough. Now as adults, saying sorry is an automatic response for things were shouldn't really be sorry for.
While it's important to take responsibility for our actions, research tells us that saying sorry as an attempt to be polite, or to avoid conflict is actually harmful to our mental health. One study found that people who apologized often are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Researchers believe that this is because apologizing can promote feelings of weakness or insecurity and reinforce negative behaviors. If you apologize every time you make a mistake, you're effectively telling yourself that you failed. Over time, this can lead to lowered self-esteem and even depression.
"I'm sorry to bother you but..."
"Sorry if this..."
"I'm sorry, I can't..."
If you find yourself allowing these phrases to sneak into conversation regularly, you may be unknowingly contributing to your own lack of confidence. These phrases are commonly used to help gain reassurance and avert confrontation—even if that isn't your conscious intention. Apologizing too often and unnecessarily also sends signs of weakness and insecurity to those around you.
So what do you say when you face criticism or want to express an opinion that may not be well-received? Here are a few ways you can replace your unnecessary apologies with something more constructive (all while boosting your confidence and shifting the way others see you).
Assess your tendencies to apologize, and ask yourself—is it really necessary? Having a difference of opinion, misunderstanding, your emotions, or encountering a roadblock are never reasons to offer an apology. If you can't control a situation or it was an honest mistake, offer an explanation rather than an apology. Note, that this is not the same as admitting you’re wrong about something, which is necessary when it happens.
Practice flipping the script on your apologies by simply acknowledging the situation. For example:
Simply saying “no” can be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but it is a very effective way to protect your time and boost your confidence. Remember that not every "no" needs an explanation.
This Google Chrome extension will tell you when you use a word or phrase that undermines your message. This is a useful tool for learning how people perceive your messaging and how to avoid language that makes you seem incompetent or weak.
The next time you're tempted to say sorry, stop and ask yourself if it's really necessary. If you've hurt someone's feelings or made a genuine mistake, then by all means apologize. But if you're feeling guilty for not being perfect or having a difference of opinion, resist the urge to apologize and work on simply acknowledging the situation.
If you or someone you know in the California or Nevada area needs help to overcome the mental anguish of being a compulsive apologizer, Medens Health can help! Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.