Have you been told that you apologize too much? Chances are, you don’t even realize you’re saying sorry until someone points it out to you.

Typically, women are more likely to fall victim to the Sorry Syndrome. Girls are raised with an emphasis on kindness and keeping the peace, and many women are natural nurturers. Women are also more likely to blame themselves for arguments and bad situations.

It’s an easy habit to get into. Heartfelt apologies can help dissolve hostility, encourage forgiveness, and mend damaged relationships. Sometimes, though, we apologize for things that are clearly not our fault, not in our control, or unworthy of an apology.

Examples: apologizing for being hurt by someone else, apologizing when someone else bumps into you, and apologizing for apologizing.

Why It’s Not Healthy

  • Lowers self-esteem. When you feel like you are constantly in the wrong, it’s difficult to value yourself.
  • Appear submissive, weak. Apologizing too often, especially when you know that you’ve done the right thing, can be dangerous. When others see you taking a submissive role too often, they may think they can take advantage of you.
  • Loss of respect. If you are constantly saying “I’m sorry,” people will start to lose respect for you. They won’t know when you are being sincere.

How to Overcome Sorry Syndrome

  • Count. Count how many times you apologize a day. Were any of them justified? Are you apologizing to the same person over and over? (That might be a problem in itself; if you are continually apologizing to your partner or friend, they might not be the right people to be hanging out with.)
  • Learn. When you feel the urge to apologize, try waiting a beat to see if the situation really requires one. Save your apologies for when you should actually apologize. Your sorry loses value when it’s overused.
  • Find another phrase. You might feel that apologizing is being polite. When you feel the need to apologize when it’s unwarranted, find a different phrase. If it takes you an extra half an hour to finish a project, don’t apologize. Instead, say “thank you for your patience.” When your spouse does the dishes, don’t apologize for not doing them before you left for work. Instead, say “Thank you, I really appreciate you doing the dishes.”
  • Embrace. Nobody is perfect. Don’t feel the need to apologize for your imperfections, embrace them. Don’t apologize for parking crooked, for having to ask for directions, or for liking country music.
  • Get support. If you have uncontrollable guilt or shame that is getting in the way of your everyday life, it might be time to see a therapist.

To set up an appointment with Reka, you can reach her by phone at 402-881-8125 or by email at reka@omaha-counseling.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

photo credit: summer’s here via photopin (license)