"Compulsive Apologies: The Feeling Underneath"
by Madisyn Taylor
by Madisyn Taylor
"Apologizing chronically can be a sign that you are not feeling that you have much self worth. Many people suffer with the tendency to apologize all the time, chronically, for everything. On the one hand, apologizing is a social convention that keeps interactions between people polite, and in that way it can be very helpful. On the other hand, if we find ourselves apologizing for everything, it might be time to look at why we feel compelled to say “I’m sorry” so often. Ultimately, saying you’re sorry is saying that you are responsible for something that has gone wrong in the situation. Whether it’s negotiating a parking spot, moving through the aisles of the supermarket, or reaching for what you want, there are times when sorry is the right thing to say. But there are other times when “excuse me” is more accurate.
Sometimes saying you’re sorry is like saying that the other person in the equation has more of a right to be here than you do. Of course, it’s true that using the word sorry can simply be an innocuous way of defusing tension. However, if you find that you say sorry all the time, you might want to look a little deeper and see where in your psyche that might be coming from. If it’s a pattern, breaking it may simply take some awareness and practice.
The first step is observing yourself each time you say it, without being hard on yourself about it. Throughout your day simply notice when you apologize. At first, you might be surprised to see that you do it even more than you first realized. After a day or two of simply observing, try to tune in to what it is you are feeling right before you say it. You might be feeling threatened, embarrassed, intensely anxious, or a variety of other feelings. Over time, try to stop yourself before the words come out and just be with the feeling that’s there. You may recognize it as one from your childhood, one that’s been with you for a long time. The more you are able to see it, the freer you will be not to be sorry all the time."