Apologizing too often is not fair to yourself. You need to know how to set limits to protect your value
Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
Do you have a habit of apologizing too often? Saying “I'm sorry”, in principle, is one of the social glues that strengthen relationships. However, doing it constantly can weaken your self-esteem. Keep in mind that the act of apologizing must be timely and meaningful. It does not have to be a continuous and almost maniacal exercise, in which somehow a certain lack of trust emerges and is prefigured.
"Sorry if I disturb you, but: can I ask you a question", "Excuse me, could you lend me the pencil?", "I'm sorry, but I think ...". We could give you a thousand different examples of the many situations in which one is led to apologize too often. Something that may initially be a hallmark of good education sometimes becomes a dynamic with negative implications for one's ego.
Jean de la Bruyère once said that there is only one excess allowed in our world, and that is to show genuine gratitude. Because the act of thanking is not synonymous with being truly grateful. With forgiveness, the same thing happens. We can say the word "sorry" twenty times a day, even forty times. However, it will always be preferable to use this term when it is accompanied by a sincere feeling.
“Apologizing doesn't always mean we're wrong. It simply means that we value a relationship much more than our ego. "
Stop apologizing too often
When we apologize, we often make others understand that we want to get rid of something. Sooner or later, the people around us will get tired of all this "education". They will end up thinking that we don't have enough confidence to act alone or that we are even making fun of them. So, and as in any area of life, any extremes should be avoided. Although, in this case, the excess is in a positive sense.
A good example of this is given to us by Donald Trump. One of his most famous phrases is the one in which he states: "I never apologize, because I simply never make mistakes". Another example of this extreme is that offered by Martin Winterkorn, former Volkswagen CEO. Although the fraud committed regarding the emissions of the German company's diesel cars (the famous Dieselgate) has been amply demonstrated, it took him almost a year to publicly apologize. When he did, the trust of most of the customers was already compromised.
At the other extreme, there are all those profiles that make use and abuse of excuses. Sometimes out of politeness and courtesy, sometimes out of simple insecurity. All of them are unaware of the implications this can have. Let's see, below, the most important ones.
1. The excuse loses value
Forgiving and asking for forgiveness are two highly therapeutic exercises. They resolve conflicts, free from burdens, relieve tensions. With simple words, one shares in the damage allegedly done, showing closeness, understanding and repentance. But only when this is the demonstration of real involvement.
In reverse, if we spend all day apologizing too often for insignificant things, the essence of forgiveness loses meaning and relevance.
2. We devalue
Before you apologize, stop and think. How do you think others will see you whenever you bow down for something that doesn't matter or have repercussions? There are situations that do not justify the use of words like "sorry" or "forgive me". They are often used mechanically and, more often than not, in contexts that do not involve such repentance.
You must understand that by always apologizing you will no longer appear humble, no more correct or respectful. Don't apologize for asking to pass by, to sit down, for that borrowed pencil, if you sneeze… You will protect your self-esteem and strengthen your confidence.
3. A wild card to get out of annoying situations
Apologizing becomes a kind of wild card that allows you to undo the negative circumstances of certain situations. These are moments in which, in some way, our insecurity or shyness emerges. It is common to apologize when addressing a stranger or someone who creates psychological submission.
The problem, therefore, rather than in the use of this word, is in its "abuse". When it becomes a persistent resource in our vocabulary, it will impact and intervene heavily in all of our social settings.
When to apologize and when not?
If you are one of those who apologize too often, you will be interested in knowing when to apologize and when not. Working on this aspect of your behavior will make you feel more competent and confident in any situation and scenario.
When to apologize:
- If you have hurt anyone.
- When you have offended, disappointed or hurt a person's feelings.
- In recognizing a decidedly wrong behavior or action taken.
- Whenever you make a mistake it also involves others.
- To close phases, quarrels and throw hatred and rancor behind us.
- Also try to apologize to yourself. We all accumulate mistakes or inappropriate choices that weigh on our present and that deserve to be freed, forgiven.
When you don't need to apologize:
- When you give your opinion.
- In situations where this dimension does not make sense: when you turn to someone, when you want to ask a question, when you have to take something ...
- When you need help.
Apologizing too often isn't just bad for self-esteem. The image of an insecure and trusting person is conveyed. Furthermore, if excuses are used inappropriately, exaggeratedly or in the wrong contexts, they lose their effectiveness.
Apologizing is wonderful, because it represents the ability to notice that you have made a mistake. This takes on even more value when the effects of mistakes fall on other people. We must not, however, abuse this power, because it can be misunderstood or lose value. Without forgetting that it is not a wild card, a shortcut to appear more polite or more humble.
Therefore, avoid apologizing too often and do it only when strictly necessary and it comes from the heart. Only in this way will you keep your self-esteem intact, giving due weight to problems and situations.