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Are you the type of person who apologizes for everything?
Have you lived a life of people pleasing or saying sorry even if you’re not at fault?
Raise your hand if someone has ever bumped into you and you’ve been the one to say sorry and overcompensate?
Do you apologize for having too many ideas or not enough ideas to contribute?
Do you say sorry for being too strong or talented or not strong or talented enough?
Have you ever sat in a meeting and started every sentence with “Sorry, but…”?
Dr. Rachel Busman, a clinical psychologist, says, “When a girl starts a statement by saying, “Sorry, but… ” or “I might be wrong, but …” she may think she’s being polite, but it undermines what she’s about to say. “It says ‘I don’t feel confident in what I’m about to say or my right to say it.”
Isn’t that the truth. How many times do we do this?
There’s actually a lot of research out there that speaks to why this could be the case. And trust me—I don’t have all the answers, but I do find a lot of it fascinating.
Researchers have a number of theories as to why women apologize so much, a few of which are:
- Girls receive conflicting messages growing up such as “be confident, but not too much;” “be ambitious, but don’t try too hard;” “be bold, but try not to step on anyone’s toes,” etc.
- Girls have a higher propensity towards empathy and compassion—Women may be conditioned to be (or biologically be) more attuned to or responsible for the impact their behavior has on others. They may have a greater awareness and empathy towards the feelings of others.
- Fear of not belonging or not being liked—Due to this fear or anxiety, women try to pre-empt what others are thinking by apologizing in advance or keep the peace in order to maintain a sense of belonging by not being offensive.
Neuroscientist and medical doctor Tara Swart says that, gender aside, “serial apologists mostly do so out of habit, possibly stemming from a childhood where one was made to feel wrong or fearful of punishment (and thus, perhaps anxious). “It may be that the normal human need to belong has been compromised, creating a shame response that’s meant to induce forgiveness and reacceptance,”
There’s so much depth to it and there’s often a lot of baggage attached. For many of you, you may need to explore it with a therapist or dedicate a month to journaling and diving deep into your propensity to apologize for who you are and what you’re good at. Or who you aren’t and what you’re not good at.
The bottom line, however is…
You must. The world needs you to stop. You need you to stop.
Apologizing in itself shows strong social skills and that you’re an individual who possesses empathy, according to psychologists. And being self-aware and emotionally intelligent is a real strength.
But saying sorry for everything or as a disclaimer before you speak is a hindrance to your ability to live fully alive, present, and as yourself in this world.
No one from your past or present gets to tell you who to be now. And no one gets to tell you, you don’t belong. You decide where you belong and who your people are. There is a #tribe for everyone and now a day, it’s easier than ever to find one who will love you and support you.
So, stop apologizing.
You don’t have to say sorry for how you laugh, speak, or don’t laugh or don’t speak.
You don’t have to say sorry for how you dress or how you wear your hair or makeup.
You don’t have to be sorry for being yourself.
Do it fearlessly.
It is time to accept that this is you and how people perceive you has no bearing on who you are.
You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so why not start being more gracious and accepting?
Start loving your sarcasm, your awkwardness, your weird habits, your unique sense of humour, your voice, your talents—your everything!
It will eliminate so much anxiety and fear. It will make things simpler. And it will make you happier.
Girl, stop apologizing—for real. The world needs more examples of how to show up bold and confident.
And when you show up that way, you show them the path. When you stop apologizing, you show them how to stop doing it, too.
Make a commitment today to at least garner an awareness of how often you apologize. And when you catch yourself doing so, try to shift it. Be conscious about eliminating “I’m sorry” from your vocabulary and thought life for all instances except for when you truly need to be.
Be sure to grab a copy of “Girl, Stop Apologizing.”