I, too, am a chronic over-apologizer. Anna’s post gave us a great breakdown of legitimate vs. illegitimate apologies. I signed up for her no-apologies challenge post-haste.
But guys, apologizing is really, really deeply ingrained in me. I can easily convince myself that apologizing, even when it’s not technically called for, is a still a polite and friendly thing to do.
But it’s actually the worst. Here are some more reasons why:
1. It’s all about ME.
Over-apologizing is just a form of people-pleasing. I want people to like me pretty desperately so I am quick to apologize for slight or imagined offenses so that they can have absolutely zero grounds to ever be mad at me ever. But, like all my people-pleasing tendencies, over apologizing is not about that person, it’s all about ME.
I don’t usually apologize because I am concerned about the other person. I apologize so that the person will see me as likable. How disingenuous and self-serving is that?
I remember in college a friend telling me about an event he attended with plans to meet someone, and she was late. She kept falling over herself to apologize, even after he had accepted her apology. When she just kept apologizing, he realized, “This is not even about me anymore. It’s about her trying to deal with the fact of her ‘failure’ to arrive on time.” She was using excessive apology as a form of penance to atone for her sins of lateness. And it’s like, stop bothering me with that! Go find a priest!
2. I hate it when people over-apologize to me.
I think, “Do you really think I’m that petty that I care about ___? Or that I’m so harsh and demanding I will never forget this small indiscretion? Don’t you trust my friendship with you?”
And also maybe because I can tell that their apology is not about me at all. (Takes one to know one.) But they keep bothering me with it.
3. It’s a lazy out.
Instead of putting more effort in actually fixing a situation, you can just throw a sloppy apology at the end and BAM! Instant atonement! I do this a lot. “Sorry my room is so messy!” No, actually, I’m not sorry. If I was really sorry, I would have cleaned it before you came. I just want you to think I’m truly repentant, and therefore a neat and considerate person.
It’s a crutch, and I use it shamelessly. I go into situations knowing I should put in effort, but instead I just pre-emptively plan to apologize instead.
So that’s where I’m at – and let me tell you, not apologizing is way hard. But I’m going to keep committing to not saying “I’m sorry” if I’m not actually sorry. It’s lazy, it’s annoying, and it’s selfish. I don’t particularly aspire to be any of those things, so it looks like apologizing has to go!
But I am sorry: I’m sorry that I’ve used apologies as lame pathetic excuses, when they are meant to restore relationships. But unlike most apologies I make, I intend to change my behavior after this one.