As I start to write this, I’m not sure how much it will resonate with people who follow along. But sometimes, I think it’s important to take a step back and just get real. This is one of those “word vomit” type blog posts that I use to share a little glimpse inside of the tilt-a-whirl that is my brain.
This morning, after my spin class, I decided to grab a smoothie. I rarely splurge on smoothies… for some reason I feel guilty spending $6 on a bunch of fruit. But I felt pretty pumped up and wanted to treat myself. I stood in line for about 5 minutes and picked got to the register to order. I could tell the girl working the register was totally OVER IT. I awkwardly smiled and asked her how she was doing before ordering. As I placed my order, I requested there be no banana in my smoothie. I apologized for being difficult, and then confirmed one more time that there would be no banana in it. I’m not allergic, but I literally hate bananas. I can’t even smell them without gagging. When I got my smoothie, I eagerly took a giant slurp through my straw. I saw it coming, but there wasn’t time to turn back. A giant chunk was on it’s way up. A… BANANA CHUNK. I kid you not, I spit it out into my hand. Dramatic? Probably. But anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t joke about my hatred of bananas.
I went up to the register and waved the smoothie and cringed a little as I tried to get the girl’s attention. “Hey, I’m so sorry, but I think there’s banana in here.” To which she rolled her eyes a little bit and said there wasn’t. “I’m so sorry, but there’s banana in it and I asked for no banana”. I could feel her eyes burning through my smoothie. She replied with a “whatever” and grabbed it to remake it. As she fixed my order, I said sorry probably 10 more times. Maybe 12. I said sorry again as I thanked her for my new smoothie. I genuinely felt mortified and guilty asking for her to fix my order. Why!? I ordered it and spent money on it! For some reason, one of the “signature traits” of my personality is apologizing all day long for things that don’t really warrant an apology.
When I was a little kid, I would go to my grandma’s house and stress out about asking for water or to use the bathroom. Then, when I finally mustered up the courage to ask, I would apologize about 5 times. You know, because getting water for a 6 years old is super inconvenient. It never has anything to do with the other person or scenario, it’s just how my brain works.
Why Can’t I Stop Apologizing?
So, I decided to do a little research. Why the F am I apologizing all the time? Apparently, a lot of times it’s rooted in your childhood. Most of the time, children are taught to be nice to others. I, like most of you, was taught to say please and thank you and to apologize when I did something wrong. No biggie, pretty standard.
Often times, over-apologizing is a result of trying to avoid conflict. BINGO. By apologizing, we can be attempting to make a problem go away. In my case, I wanted to make the whole “awkward smoothie situation” go away. Often time, over-apologizers say sorry – whether or not they deserve any blame in the first place.
In my case, my over-apologeticness comes from a place of insecurity. I’ve had to work on my confidence my entire life. Even though I’ve come a long way, the whole “sorry for being sorry” thing is now just a bad habit. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long (cough, almost 30 years), that I don’t even know how not to! It’s like biting your nails or eating with your mouth open. The time has come for me to make a conscious effort to stop!
How to Stop Saying Sorry
Am I Really Sorry?
The first step in my “sorry not sorry” journey is to start reflecting. What is it exactly that’s making me apologize? I’ve spent a good portion of my youth and early 20s digging into my developmental years, so I’m pretty familiar with the whole “cause and effect” portion of why I am the way I am.
Some important questions that I need to ask myself:
- Did I actually do something wrong?
- Why did I want someone to think I was sorry?
It seems pretty simple. But by asking myself these questions, it makes it easier for me to separate a “good sorry” from a “bad sorry”. Eventually, my goal is to not have to question myself, but to instinctively know if it’s necessary.
What Triggers an Apology?
Obviously I don’t apologize to my dog when I give him the wrong treat. So there are different situations that “trigger” apologies. The next step in my journey is to make note of when, where and to who I apologize. Are there certain people I apologize to more often? What contexts do these apologies pop up in. Often times, there are certain personality types that push my sorry reflex into full-force. Or, if I’m in chaotic situations and feeling a little anxious, sorry is in overdrive.
Say Thank You
My new goal is to try to say “Thank You” instead of “Sorry” in appropriate situations. Sounds super easy, right? WRONG. It’s all about retraining your brain to respond to specific situations differently.
Saying sorry is almost like a speech tic. Some people say “umm”, I just keep saying sorry and don’t even notice it. Since I’m fairly aware of those “trigger situations”, I can use them as a chance to work on my responses. Almost like driver’s ed for apologizing. I need to get behind the wheel and be forced to parallel park my sorry into a thank you.
Example: When my boyfriend takes the trash out, rather than saying “sorry” for him doing it, I’ll say “thank you” for doing it. Instead of putting pressure on the other person to reassure you that you didn’t do something wrong, you’re expressing gratitude, which makes people feel positive and appreciated.
Another thing I’m going to work on is saying “excuse me” instead of sorry. If I’m walking down the aisle at the grocery store and need to work around a cart, I’ll say “excuse me”, rather than apologizing for making my way to the cereal like every one else.
In general, the goal is to redirect the negative apology energy I’m creating. Instead of feeling guilty, my goal is to work on sharing gratitude and positivity.
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