We all apologise for little things daily - accidentally bumping into someone, making a mistake at work or replying late to an email. In the hustle of our day-to-day lives, it's easy to find ourselves apologising for every little thing. It can get to a point where we don't even realise that we are doing it.
Apologising has been ingrained into us from an early age. From infancy, we are told to be kind, polite and accommodating. This can to be especially prevalent when parenting girls. On the surface, this gentle and persistent nurturing towards deference is a thoughtful and respectful way to be.
It may be seen as at best courteous, but at worst erodes our confidence and self-esteem. Mainly when the phrase, I'm sorry, is used more as a punctuation mark than an expression of genuine remorse.
The importance of being precious when apologising
It is important to note here that genuine apologies are powerful.
They are a crucial part of our society and the fabric that makes up a community. Therefore, apologising, when it is warranted, can be deeply meaningful and create solid and life-affirming bonds between people.
The key here is to use it correctly and with sincerity.
Over-apologising is counterproductive
However, if we find that we are constantly apologising for everything and anything, the meaning of the apology is lost and becomes something no more significant than a passing comment.
The current overuse of apologies nowadays has diluted the power of a heartfelt apology, robbing it of its meaning and sincerity.
Apologising damages your self-esteem
In addition to eroding sincerity, saying " I'm sorry " can hurt how we see ourselves and our self-esteem—being on the contrite end of a conversion sets in motion the feeling of being wrong, inferior or mistaken. Each of these positions is fine in isolation as none of us are perfect, and we all mess up at times. However, if this is your default mode, then it tells your mind that you are not good enough and the other person is better. This narrative consistently over time slices away self-esteem and can have a negative effect on how we see ourselves.
Apologising in any scenario immediately puts you on the back foot in a relationship, group or conversation.
Suppose apologising is constant in your vocabulary, and you find yourself doing the lion's share of the apologising. In that case, it might be time to reassess what you are apologising for and why.
I've had a good think about this and concluded that these are the most pertinent things we need to consider and stop apologising for from this moment on or at the very least curb as best we can.
1. Not knowing everything
Knowing everything is impossible, yet many of us feel we have to have all the answers to succeed. So we apologise for not knowing something we think we should when it's perfectly okay not to know everything. If you don't know something, say that you don't know and be ok with that. There's no need to apologise for it.
If we don't know something, it is okay to say that we will go find out or research it. That is why we have google.
2. Making mistakes
We all make mistakes, yet we often apologise for them as if they're terrible. On the contrary, making mistakes is good, as it means taking risks and trying new things. So next time you make a mistake, instead of apologising, acknowledge it and learn from it.
Mistakes are often where we find out about things and how they work (or not). Making mistakes opens our world to new possibilities and ideas and helps us to learn better.
I will never forget one of my old science lecturers explaining to me about white paper studies. Sometimes, a study whose only conclusion is to rule something out rather than find an enlightening decision can be just as informative. It means that we've narrowed down the field of research and are getting closer to the correct answer.
make mistakes, rule out what doesn't work and go again.
3. Being assertive
For some reason, many of us think being assertive is a bad thing. We apologise for speaking up or standing up for ourselves and there's nothing wrong with that. As a result, we may feel that we come across as bossy or rude. In reality, assertiveness is a healthy form of communication akin to confidence.
If you look at it a different way, think of a person you know, a confident, happy open one that people are drawn to, want to be around and hold in high esteem. These people tend to be assertive and share their thoughts and opinions and we all learn more as a result. This is seen as a good thing, and I want to sow the seed of encouragement for you.
4. Having an opinion
It seems like everyone is afraid to share their opinions in case they offend someone. But having a point of view is not bad, and there's no need to apologise. You're entitled to your opinion, so express it freely and without apology.
Remember, an opinion is just that. It is how you feel about a particular thing or situation. For example, you may be the only person who does not like strawberries. That is okay, all that means is that there are more for the people that do like strawberries. Or you could be lucky and think the coffee chocolates in the sweet selection box are the best. Let people know this; you could eat coffee treats for weeks afterwards.
5. Being different
We are all unique individuals with quirks and qualities that make us who we are. So embrace your differences, and don't be afraid to show them to the world. There's no need to apologise for being yourself!
If everyone was blonde and beautiful, it would be a very dull world indeed. Listen to The Beautiful South's song 'Rotterdam' and you'll get my drift.
6. Your feelings
It's natural to experience a full range of emotions, yet too often, people feel compelled to apologise for just feeling what they think. Society places such an emphasis on appearing stoic and strong that we lose sight of expressing our feelings without shame or guilt. The truth is there is nothing wrong with healthily expressing our emotions. However, when we apologise for feeling something, it implies that our feelings are not valid or controllable when everyone experiences a myriad of emotions every day.
By learning to recognise, accept, and process these feelings rather than apologising, we can learn to understand ourselves and others more. Additionally, allowing yourself to be vulnerable when appropriate can foster healthier relationships with those around you. Remind yourself that it's okay to feel whatever you're feeling without apologising or explaining — your feelings are real and deserve recognition.
7. Your Appearance
Apologising for your physical appearance is a dangerous slippery slope: it's hard to stop once you start. If you're in the habit of apologising for your appearance, it's time to break out of that cycle. Start by changing the internal dialogue - stop speaking about yourself as if you're flawed or lesser due to your looks. Instead, replace those thoughts with positive affirmations and recognise the beauty of what makes you unique. Acknowledge that your worth is not defined through physical features.
Finally, take control over how you are portrayed: on social media platforms, keep pictures that make you feel empowered and showcase who you are authentically and unapologetically.
By changing your body narrative and self-talk, you can start living without apologising for who you are. The quirkiest of us can often be the most interesting ones to spend time with.
8. Asking a question
Asking a question is a critical administrative task and vital to success. Asking questions has been proven to boost efficiency and productivity in the workplace, and everywhere really.
There is no need to apologise for asking questions that can lead to an increased understanding of a person, place or concept. Try to be confident in your right to ask any questions you have to get a clearer picture of whatever it is you need information on.
Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask for clarifications if the answer is unclear - doing so shows intelligence and thoughtfulness, not incompetence. Understanding complex systems is essential for completing work and feeling at ease in a situation.
9. Taking 'Me time.'
As important as it is to devote time and energy to our relationships, we also need to remember that taking time for ourselves can positively affect those bonds. It's essential to have moments throughout our day or week to focus on ourselves and do the things we enjoy, whatever that may be.
This "me time" can help bring balance and joy back into our lives and make us better companions to those in our social circles. So don't apologise for needing a break now and then - it's an essential part of self-care!
10. Other people's behaviour
People often apologise for the actions of others without realising the consequences. In doing so, they become complicit in those behaviours and co-sign a message that the offending party is not responsible for their own words or deeds.
Remember that we are all responsible for our own mistakes; while empathising with a situation is valuable, it's important to draw lines and set boundaries when defending our individual beliefs and well-being. Understanding which boundaries are appropriate will help everyone make better decisions—and demonstrate respect for one another.
11. Not responding immediately to a text, call, or email
It can be easy to feel guilty when responding to a text, call, or email a few hours after it was sent. We often apologise for taking too long. Being mindful of our time and energy is essential. Having reasonable expectations around response time shows respect for both the sender and receiver. Unnecessary guilt and apologies should not be a factor in how we respond.
Instead, take the time necessary to gather your thoughts and craft an appropriate response on the subject. Including an apology will not make up for not responding immediately; it only creates further confusion about what is expected of the receiver. By avoiding apologising for late responses, everyone can create clear expectations around communication regardless of how much time has passed since it was sent.
12. Circumstances you can't control
Apologising for circumstances we often can't control is an easy trap to fall into – feeling wrong about things out of our power serves no purpose. Instead, when certain unwanted situations arise, we must acknowledge them rather than apologise or blame ourselves.
Instead, try to use the opportunity as a way to reflect and try to be better equipped next time. Taking responsibility for how we react and how much effort we put into making positive change is incredibly empowering, not just for ourselves but those around us too. Allowing circumstances to pass without serving us guilt will help us create more meaningful moments in our lives – ones that bring out the best in us while striving to improve our environment and relationships.
We've looked at the power of apologising, why we need to use it with care and discussed areas in our life where it might be worthwhile to do things if regular apologies are warranted and why we apologise when necessary.
If you find yourself apologising all the time, take a step back and ask yourself if it's necessary – chances are, it's not. Instead, try to focus on being polite and respectful instead of always saying sorry, and see how your relationships change for the better.
Now, let's take a look at how to apologise effectively. The first step is to ensure that you are genuinely sorry for what you have done wrong. Next, express your apology clearly and concisely.
Finally, take action to make things right. By following these tips, you can apologise with grace and ease, making amends with those you have hurt.
Have you ever had to apologise? How did you go about it?
It's important to apologise only when necessary and to do so in a way that shows genuine remorse.
Til next time
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