I Stopped Apologizing So Damn Much & It Has Changed My Life

I was the type of person who apologized when someone else runs into me on the street. If a friend canceled plans and apologized, I’d have a weird knee-jerk reaction to apologize, too. It was pretty exhausting. I’ve since begun the journey of being someone who doesn’t say sorry so much. Here’s what my process has been like.

  1. I noticed I was saying sorry a ton. I had a growing awareness of how often I apologized. It started to become really uncomfortable and even annoying as I watched myself do it over and over again. Why was I saying sorry so dang much? I didn’t know, but I did know that I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. So, I set out on a path to replace those words or not say anything at all.
  2. I realized I didn’t owe so many apologies. One of the most troublesome questions was that “why?” question. What the heck was I doing? I tried to figure out why I thought I owed so many apologies. Part of it was I felt that I needed to give them. I think it was somewhat because of low self-esteem or poor self-worth. This was really sad to find out, so I moved in the right direction to try and change my patterns.
  3. It’s been very difficult to stop. I wish I could say that I discovered my downfall and I swiftly stopped doing it. That’s just not how change works, for me anyways. It’s a much slower process than I’d like and even than I imagine, but it’s totally worth it. This dang pattern, though, is deeply ingrained in me. It feels like it’s in my bones. So, I still say it sometimes, pretty often actually, just less so than before.
  4. Saying sorry so much sends the wrong message. Apologizing can shape my role in a relationship and the way that I interact with another person. For one, it can say that I’m submissive. This could mean that I don’t have good boundaries and I just let other people decide what goes on. It can also be an expression of a lack of confidence, assuming that I’m over apologizing because I’m unsure that what I’m saying is right.
  5. I’ve started replacing “sorry” with “thank you” sometimes. I don’t even know where I picked this trick up, but someone else definitely gave it to me. It’s been an amazing idea in practice. Saying “thank you” shifts the whole attitude of what I’m saying. An example is “I’m sorry I can be a pain” and instead saying, “Thanks so much for being patient with me.” See what I mean? It just feels totally different.
  6. Being a woman, we say it so much more. A scientific study found that women apologize more than men. Is this surprising? Not at all. According to the study, “it’s not that men are reluctant to admit wrongdoing. It’s just that they have a higher threshold for what they think warrants reparation.” This is one of the main reasons why there’s a difference. Women think the smaller things matter just as much.
  7. I’m left with less guilty feelings by not apologizing so much. I feel a bit tougher, but that’s okay. It’s kind of nice since I’m usually a softie. As a result of feeling this way, I have less guilt. It’s not a ton less, just a little bit, but I’ll take it.
  8. I feel content with my choice to say sorry less. There are arguments both ways—lessening apologizing and staying the way you are are both expressions of feminism. Some think it’s just one and some think it’s the other. I think mine might be a little bit of both. I feel like I’ve made changes and continue to while I also accept that I’ll never be perfect.
  9. There are still plenty of times where I need an apology. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to never apologize again. Apologies are so necessary for a million different situations. Some examples are apologies for being late, for losing something someone lent me, or for being inconsiderate of someone else’s feelings.
  10. I’m not trying to shame anyone out of their “sorry”. I’m not trying to get you to apologize for apologizing. No way, this isn’t about toxic shame. So, don’t feel bad about doing something that’s totally natural because of the way we were socialized. It’s not about anyone being less-than, it’s just about awareness of a habit that could be worked on if you so desire.
  11. My apologies feel more sincere now. Perhaps it’s just my confidence, but I feel more sincere when I’m saying sorry to someone. Maybe doing something less has helped me value it more. I can’t say for certain that the other person thinks I’m more sincere, but I can celebrate my experience.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.