Throughout my life, I have always been apologetic for my actions, to which all of my friends respond in various different ways, such as “Why are you sorry?”, “Shut up!”, or even an annoyed, “Dude, it’s fine, stop.” I have even had people ignore my apologies altogether, which actually made it worse. Don’t get me wrong, people have been very accommodating to this bad habit and shown their support for me. However, it’s the few bad apples that poison the pie. Thus, this bad habit has never truly been broken, but I have learned how to lessen its control over me.
I learned that I am not alone in this habit. Many studies have shown that women apologize more than men. According to a 2010 study in the U.S. Journal of Psychological Science, women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior. This means they are more likely to say sorry. When learning this, I started questioning my girl friends to see if they also shared in the internal mental pressure to apologize. A lot of them said that they did and that made my heart sink.
It is important to realize that this tendency does not come out of the blue, it stems from childhood. You don’t have to come from a broken or abusive home to feel this way. In his book about the pressure young girls face in society, “The Triple Bind,” Psychologist Stephen Hinshaw explains that girls are asked to conform to societal standards more regularly as they reach adolescence — standards that he feels are impossible to reach. The Child Mind Institute gives examples of these standards, that include, “Be confident, but not conceited,” “Be Smart, but no one likes a know-it-all,” “Be assertive, but only if it doesn’t upset anyone else.” There are plenty more.
These pressures are imbedded into women’s minds at such a young age. Of course, I am not saying that men are not put under pressure at a young age as well (don’t even get me started on toxic masculinity), however, those issues are for another column.
I have apologized for so many silly things, such as talking too much, laughing too loudly, choosing to stay in when everyone is going out, heck, even breathing too loudly! There are still so many more that I can’t even begin to write. Despite this, I have realized that I should not have to apologize for being me. So, I have found a few simple ways to help me prevent this bad habit from taking over my life.
First, I started saying thank you instead of sorry (yes, I got this idea from a Barbie blog). Did your friend come to pick you up and you’re running late? Instead of saying, “Sorry I was late,” say “Thank you for waiting for me.” It gives a positive aspect to the negative situation. It works like a charm.
The Child Mind Institute also suggests communicating with confidence. Realize that you are allowed to take up room at the table. You do not need to apologize for speaking, sharing your opinion, or even disagreeing with someone! Once you start to recognize this, which won’t happen overnight, you’ll find yourself not saying sorry so much.
I am still in the early stages of breaking my apologizing habit, but I see it as one building block in my journey of growth. Although I am still figuring out myself and my self-confidence, I have begun to consciously stop myself from apologizing for small, silly things. Doing so has allowed me to live a little more freely each day.
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