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Opinion: Why do we apologise so much?

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Apologising can be a constructive tool in terms of socializing. If you slip up, you can often rectify this by simply saying ‘sorry.’ Apologies can help create a more peaceful atmosphere. But what about when you apologize for no legitimate reason? What does this mean? And how can you stop it?

Upon a simple google search regarding the meaning of apologising, I was presented with this; express regret for something that one has done wrong.

We’re all just a work in progress and we are bound to slip up sometimes. In fact, making mistakes are part of what forms our foundation for growth, wisdom and knowledge.

Apologising for our wrong-doings is a very courageous act and is necessary in overcoming social obstacles.

Examples of when we should apolologise:

  • Having bursts of anger which directly or indirectly offends others
  • For any social misunderstandings. Apologising is key in resolving conflicts and taking responsibility for where we, perhaps, have misjudged a situation.
  • Accidently spilling coffee on your friend brand new white rug. (Come on, we’ve all been there.)

On the flip side, when do our apologies become un-necessary? Why do we do it? Why do we feel the need to do it? And most importantly, how can we stop it?

Examples of when we don’t need to apologise:

  • Apologising for the way we look
  • Apologising for what we know, is someone else’s misconduct.
  • Apologising for aspects of our personality which is inflicting no harm to anyone.

If any of those points sound familiar to you, then don’t worry- you’re not alone. And you can change the way in which you verbalise things without inwardly suggesting you’ve done wrong, when, in fact, you haven’t. Many people say ‘sorry’ when it isn’t due. Though this can apply to any gender, studies suggest that women apologise more frequently than men.

How/and why should you kill this habit;

Why you should stop apologising can seem simple; it’s just not needed, right? However, that’s easier said than done. Once ‘sorry’ has become implemented in our daily vocabulary, it can be a habit that we simply don’t even realise we’re doing.

The reason why you should stop apologising when it’s not needed is this;

If your apologising for faults that aren’t yours, your almost apologising for existing. Your almost apologising for being the wonderfully complex human that you are. With an estimated 7.5 billion people in the world and none being exactly like you, there is no need for you to apologise for being you. You are a unique gift to this diverse world.

Also, others can take advantage of our overly apologetic nature. If we’re apologising every third sentence for our basic human functions, are we leaving room for when the genuine apologies are needed? Are we giving others the immpression we will take the blame for things that aren’t our fault?

How you should stop apologising for things that aren’t your fault may also seem simple; you just don’t allow the word ‘sorry’ to ever escape your mouth, right? Again- that’s easier said than done. But the reasons as to why some people apologise too much may be a little deeper than you’d first presume…

‘Sorry’ can sometimes be deeply implemented into someones verbal routine when they suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can often cause us to have feelings of guilt when we know there is no legitimate reason for us to feel this way. We can apologise out of nerves; we don’t want to offend anyone and we don’t want to be in anyone’s bad books. So, ‘sorry’ can seem like a glorious escape route from any future problems your brain is anticipating.

Traumatic experiences or being abused in any way can cause us to believe that we provoked these situations to come about. We may look within ourselves to find the answers as to what we’ve done to deserve such things when, actually, the answer is nothing. You done nothing to deserve that. Nonetheless, apologizing can seem valid when you’ve got into the habit of placing the blame on yourself.

Mindfulness

Again, after a simple google search I’m told that mindfulness is ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.’

When you break it down like that, it seems a bit more achievable.

When I first heard of ‘mindfulness’ I assumed it was a case of ‘colour for an hour, meditate for 2 hours then do affirmations for 3 hours.’ And I simply didn’t think mindfulness was something I was able to practise in my life. But, actually, mindfulness can be practised in all kinds of scenarios. Perhaps even recognising your stressed can be an element of mindfulness- you’re drawing attention to the fact you don’t feel quite right. And this can be a practical, helpful way of viewing things rather than believing every thought that pops up in your mind.

Likewise, you can apply this to the words you use. Is your self talk helpful? Is your self talk true and genuine? And if the answer is no- then even recognising that is can be a step towards a more clarified way of thinking!

Just to recap- apologising is something you do to rectify something. Apologising isn’t always needed. And to change the words you use can be a tricky process. But, it’s all a climb. And you don’t need to feel sorry about it.

Imogen Partridge