Updated: Jun 14
Are you a person who is always saying sorry?
Saying sorry too much is a common problem, and apparently studies show that more women than men may find themselves saying sorry more often than may be necessary.
Over apologising all the time is essentially saying sorry for your existence.
Over time this undermines your self-worth and can lead to feelings of anxiety
It maybe you already have low self-esteem and the anxiety is leading you to feel responsible for things and so you say sorry
Does this mean you are taking too much responsibility for things and therefore when things go wrong you think it is all your fault?
What is it that might lead you to say sorry so much:-
Compassion People who care a lot about the feelings and needs of others often find themselves over apologising when they’ve done nothing wrong.
Agreeability If you care a lot about keeping the peace and preventing conflict, you are likely to say sorry more than is necessary. After all, you would rather give an unneeded apology than end up in a fight.
Lack of faith in your own judgement When you are not confident that what you are doing or saying is right, you can be quick to apologise and simply assume you are in the wrong
Strict upbringing Spending your childhood in fear of discipline can make you over apologise, as saying sorry prevented you from being verbally or physically disciplined.
Anxiety. Living with an underlying sense of impending doom can lead you to be ultra-sensitive to the idea of situations or relationships going wrong, which in turn can lead to over apologising to prevent things going wrong
The more responsibility you feel for something the more likely you are to apologise, the more you apologise the more responsible you feel and so you start the vicious cycle.
A study in 2019 concluded that people who were too harsh on themselves and apologised too often could be at increased risk of developing OCD or GAD.
People with OCD have repetitive compulsive behaviours, to stop the impulsive thoughts that bad things will happen, so take responsibility for ensuring they prevent the bad things happening through their compulsive behaviours.
People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder excessively worry about things and feel the worse will happen. They worry and take responsibility to stop the bad things happening.
It is unlikely you link your worry, or compulsive actions with your own responsibility, however this burden of responsibility can lead to anxiety.
Can you stop saying sorry so much?
Here are some techniques you can try
1. Pause Before Saying Sorry
Before saying sorry, STOP
Ask yourself “Have I actually done anything wrong here?”.
If the answer is no, do not apologise!
You could also ask “If I didn’t do something wrong here, do I really want people to think that I believe I did?”
2. Ask a trusted friend if you say sorry too much.
If they say yes, see if they would be willing to point out how often you say sorry in the future.
Ask if they feel that you over did it,
Ask this person how you might handle things differently in the future without saying sorry
3. Know Your Triggers
Do a quick brainstorming session and write down 5 things that make you want to say sorry
For example, bumping into a stranger or asking someone to do something for you.
Then write down things you could say instead of 'sorry.'
Spend a week focusing on just one, and try to entirely eliminate “sorry” from that context
4. Turn Apologies Into Gratitude
The next time you feel you are going to say sorry, think of a way to rephrase it into a statement of gratitude.
For example, “I’m sorry you had to do that for me” can easily become “I’m so grateful you did me this favour!”.
Not only is this more pleasing to the person you talk to, but it focuses your mind on positivity.
People may feel differently about you because of the change of language, if you are sorry, they may take pity on you. The grateful sentence helps the giver and receiver feel good.
5. Responsibility pie
Make a pie chart of the situation you felt fully responsible for.
Split the pie into all the things and people that can be responsible.
Start with everyone and everything else and leave you to last and see how much of the pie is left for you
For example, you may take full responsibility for bumping into the back of the car in front at the traffic lights
Have you taken into consideration:- Road conditions, weather conditions, mechanics of car, other drivers, road signs, distractions, speed, other road users, the other driver.
Remember we are only in control of our own actions and very rarely do things happen where only one person is fully responsible for everything that happens.
You will find reducing the number of times you say sorry will increase your feelings of self-worth and self-esteem and you, and others, will stop blaming you for everything that goes wrong.
Taking full responsibility for everything is actually a negative trait not a positive trait start to move towards looking at things from a positive bias, reduce how often you say sorry and reduce your anxiety
Laura Knight is a qualified and experienced Counsellor and a registered member of BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
She is an approved Anxiety UK Therapist and has her own private practice SeeClear Counselling, in Poole Dorset.
She can offer face to face, telephone and video counselling sessions
Laura also spent some time working with Dorset Mind delivering education to local employers on how to identify and manage stress at work reducing the impact that work stress can have on peoples every day lives.
Laura found that many of her clients would present with Anxiety and because of this enhanced her training to include CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) as there is evidence to suggest that CBT is effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Laura now focuses on working with adults who struggle with Anxiety within her private practice, working with them to reduce the scary physical and emotional symptoms they experience and help them change their negative thinking patterns so they can lead a calmer life.
For more information about Laura please visit her website https://www.seeclearcounselling.co.uk
Or visit her Facebook page https://facebook.com/seeclearcounselling
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 07975733029