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Are You Saying Sorry Too Much?

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I approached the bathroom door at the same time as one of my colleagues. We both reached for the handle and shrugged saying, “sorry!”

In the produce section, another shopper and I had a cart face-off trying to grab strawberries. We said, “sorry” while maneuvering our hauls. 

Or my favorite: I sneezed.

My friend: “Bless you!”

Me: “Sorry.”

My friend: “Why are you apologizing?”

Me: “Sorry.”

Sound familiar? So many women have a sorry-reflex. We use “sorry” as a crutch instead of its real intent: to apologize for something done wrong. But like any crutch, there is a point when we need to let it go and recognize the harm it’s doing. Are you saying sorry too much? Here are 3 hidden ways sorry is hurting rather than helping. And one way to nix the habit. 

Before I share the reasons saying sorry too much is damaging, I want to say that I’ve never met someone with a strong sorry reflex who isn’t compassionate and thoughtful. This isn’t about numbing yourself to the feelings and needs of others. And it’s not about not apologizing. Apologizing for something you’ve done wrong is important. Saying “sorry” for just being is a problem. 

Saying sorry too much says “I shouldn’t exist.”

Has this ever happened to you? Someone steps on your foot and you say, “sorry!” A second goes by and you wonder why you apologized. He stepped on YOUR foot. This apology reflex scenario is the one that stings the most, because in essence it’s saying, “I’m wrong for being here.” 

I’ve walked up to someone at the front desk of a hotel and said sorry before asking my question. ABBY, YOUR PRESENCE IS NOT AN IMPOSITION! When you say sorry in this kind of situation, you are subconsciously lowering your self-esteem.

Saying sorry too much waters down your message.

If you’re known as the woman who says sorry when it’s unnecessary, how do people know when you’re truly remorseful and regret something you’ve done? My husband’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation. He compliments me a lot, even when I feel like I look like a hot mess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but sometimes I wonder if his words are just words or if they are an expression of his actual feelings. 

Same with sorry. When an apology is warranted, what will that word really mean?

Saying sorry too much undermines what you’re about to say.

If someone was about to step on a wasp, you wouldn’t say “Sorry! Don’t put your foot down!” You would know that what you have to say needs to be heard. When you start a conversation with “sorry” what you communicate is, “I don’t feel confident in what I’m about to say or my right to say it.” 

Women are especially guilty of this because many of us were raised to be “good girls,” and asserting ourselves conflicts with that image. We were raised to suggest, but not demand. Our daughters need to see women who know their voices matter

Here’s a simple remedy to saying sorry too much.

For many women, over using this word comes from years of mental and physical abuse and therapy might be a necessary tool. But for others, help can come in the form of one word: mindfulness. 

If someone steps aside to let you pass, are you sorry or grateful? Try “Thank you.”

If your coworker points out an error you made and saves you embarrassment, are you sorry or appreciative? Say, “I’m glad you caught that.”

And for goodness sake, if someone steps on your foot, are you sorry or in pain? Just say “ouch!”  

When do you find yourself saying sorry unnecessarily? 


When should you say you’re sorry?

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