How I Learned to Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

If you are a woman, I’m assuming you’ve struggled with apologizing way too often for things that are not your fault. Do you use “sorry” as a filler word in awkward situations? Do you say I’m sorry when the issue or problem has nothing to do with you?

Stop Saying I'm Sorry
Photo: Todd White Photography

A friend of mine called me out in an email a few months ago, after I wrote her and apologized for not getting back to her immediately. It had been a day since I received her original email, and there was no need for me to apologize. She replied, “You are a busy person, you work full time and have a child so I understand if you don’t reply ASAP. There is no need for you to apologize.” It was such a relief reading those words, and since then I have truly taken them to heart. Prior to her calling me out, I would usually start off emails with, “I’m so sorry I didn’t get back to you” or “ I apologize”, but since I was called out, I’ve begun to erase those phrases from my email vocabulary. I tell myself, you have a lot of stuff going on in your life, and you don’t need to explain yourself. I mean don’t get me wrong, if it’s an email that needs a response IMMEDIATELY then I will make sure to reply back as soon as I can. I’m not an unreliable person, but sometimes things can wait.

Outside of emails, I would also apologize for so many things I had no control over. For example, I was pushing my grocery cart down the aisle at the store, and someone was in the way. I would immediately say “Sorry” and try to squeeze by. WHY? Why didn’t I just say excuse me? I didn’t do anything wrong.

Do you notice that men don’t struggle with this? Researcher Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada said, “It seems to be that when men think they’ve done something wrong they do apologize just as frequently as when women think they’ve done something wrong. It’s just that they think they’ve done fewer things wrong.” There you have it ladies! So many times my husband has told me, “Why are you apologizing for that? You didn’t do anything wrong.” In his mind I didn’t, but my psyche is telling me I should just go ahead and apologize to make the situation better or be polite.Advertisement
None the less women struggle with saying sorry way too often, and this needs to change.

  • Be strong, don’t make unnecessary apologies
  • Don’t be afraid to simply be silent sometimes
  • If you are trying to combat this, try keeping track of how many times you apologize during the day. It will make you more aware of when you do it, and hopefully change your habits.

I challenge you in the New Year to stop apologizing for every little thing! I love this commercial from Pantene. It sums up my feelings perfectly.

Do you struggle with this? Have you combated the problem? If so, I’d love to hear your tips!

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