For many of us, the word “sorry” has become something we reactively utter, regardless of whether we’ve done anything wrong.
This seemingly harmless habit can actually lower your self-esteem, justify other people’s poor actions, and turn you into a complete pushover.
There’s nothing wrong with apologizing for the bad things you’ve done.
But when saying sorry becomes your automatic response to anything that makes you feel a little uncomfortable, it can be problematic.
For example, I tend to apologize when someone else bumps into me at a bar or club. I’ll immediately put my hand up in peace and quickly say “sorry” with a smile, even though they just spilled half of my $14 drink on the floor.
Is it courteous for me to do that?
Perhaps, but I wasn’t the one who needed to apologize.
In fact, I wasn’t actually sorry at all, I was annoyed, and you’ve probably felt the same way at one point or another.
That “sorry” that escapes your own mouth isn’t to apologize, it’s to avoid rocking the boat and making things awkward (the woman who read this over my shoulder in the coffee shop while I wrote this agreed).
Lori Deschene at Tiny Buddha suggests that your apologies will automatically tell others that you think you are responsible for the issue.
That person at the bar who spilled my drink may now assume that I was at fault (or that it was at least a mutual bumping into), and that I’m the jerk who almost spilled my drink all over their brand new shoes.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t actually matter whose fault it was. But the more you turn this into a habit, the more you’ll use it in situations that do matter.
Unnecessary apologies also send the message that you’d rather be agreeable than be honest.
Over time, your abundant apologies will come across as submissive and make you a pushover that others will try to take advantage of at work and at home.
Over-apologizing also needlessly creates guilt in your mind and undermines your own self-esteem.
Not only are you constantly telling others that you’re responsible for everything that goes wrong, you’re also telling yourself.
It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you keep falling on a sword that shouldn’t come out of its sheathe in the first place.
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