Sorry Ladies, But It's Time We Stopped Saying Sorry All The Time

Yes, it is too late to say sorry.

I have a two-year-old daughter. So, as you can imagine, I don’t get out much anymore. But when I do get the opportunity I make sure it’s for something extra special.

The other night I was invited to a very fancy dinner which I’d been excited about for weeks. It was a sit-down dinner. Like, an actual sit down dinner -- not just a grab a drink and stuff as many canapés into your mouth and handbag as you can (I’ve heard that’s what people do). No, this one was a proper sit down … with wine. Hold me.

But, as Murphy’s Law would have it, when the day rolled around I began to feel sick. Heachachy, sore throat, dizzy -- you know, all the usual virus-like symptoms.

Still, I persevered.

As the night began my fever got worse and I ended up collapsing on the way to the bathroom. All I remember is that after being helped up and onto a chair by a staff member, my first words were to her were: “I’m so sorry”.

I remember her face -- gentle but confused. She looked at me as if I’d just asked her to recite the alphabet backwards. “Why are you sorry?” she asked. “You’re sick, you have nothing to be sorry about”.

As more staffers came out to check that I wasn’t drunk (nope), or pregnant (NOPE), I kept repeating myself: “I’m sorry … I’m sorry I’m causing all this trouble … I’m sorry you have to help me.”

I kept apologising right until the moment my husband turned the lights off for the night.

“Sorry you had to do that, I just can’t move,” I mumbled. “Stop saying sorry,” he said. “You apologise too much and you don’t need to be sorry about anything.”

It took every ounce of willpower I possessed not to say sorry … for saying sorry. So instead I said goodnight and began wondering if maybe he was right -- maybe I was saying sorry too much…

I let my mind wander back to the day that was … on a rough calculation I think said sorry approximately 1,568 times in a 15-hour period -- give or take a few hundred.

Let’s count a few of them, shall we?

  • I said sorry when I bumped into the wall.
  • I said sorry to a mannequin outside our office toilet because I thought they were waiting to use the bathroom. I then said sorry again to the mannequin for thinking it was a person.
  • I said sorry when I had to pay by card at the local coffee shop because I didn’t have enough change on me.
  • I said sorry after someone bumped into me on the street.
  • I said sorry when I called a waitress over to order.
  • I said sorry when I sneezed.

Frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted reading that and I’m exhausted thinking about it and I know I’m not the only one.

Psychologist Michaelle Karavas told ten daily that women have a natural tendency to want to “keep the peace and attempt to make people happy”.

She explained: “Women are sometimes over-attuned and end up apologizing for things that other people didn’t even find offensive or are even aware of”.

Apparently, according to Karavas, it’s because women have a “lower threshold for what requires an apology because they are more concerned with the emotional experiences of others and promoting peace in their relationships”.

I agree with that -- I know that I don’t like confrontation and will usually go to the ends of the earth to avoid it. But that’s bringing too much of an altruistic slant to the issue. Sure, I don’t want people to be upset -- but I also don’t want people to think less of me. I want to keep that façade up and once there’s a single chink in the armour, it’s only a matter of time before the entire thing crumbles and I’m left bare and open and very, very vulnerable.

One of the small goals I’ve set myself is to stop saying sorry so much. After taking a tally I’m worried it’s something my daughter will pick up on -- and I don’t ever want her to apologise for things she doesn’t need to apologise for.

With that in mind I asked Michelle for some tips on how to keep my apologies in check.

Here’s what she said:

Say 'Thank You' Instead

For example, when your partner or children do a particular chore such as the dishes, rather than apologising for not doing them yourself, say thank you. Expressing your gratitude can make them feel appreciated and will  hopefully encourage them to volunteer again.

Save It

Saying sorry too much can trivialise the act of an apology making the important ones carry less weight. Save the sorry for when you really need it, and mean it.

Know Where To Draw The Line

Apologise for your role in a negative event, but leave it at that. If you’re a person who likes to make amends and resolve conflict straight away, it may be tempting to apologise for more than your share just to smooth everything over quickly. Doing this can lead to you feeling resentful and it can let others off the hook too easily.

Thanks for reading. Hope you're not sorry you did.