‘I’m sorry’ comes out my mouth way too much. I’m not talking about sincere apologies. I’m talking about saying I’m sorry when I didn’t do or say anything that I need to apologize for.
For example, I say sorry when someone bumps into me, or if I almost drop something. I even say sorry to furniture when I bump into it.
I also apologize when I think someone is going to be angry, before I’m even sure what I’m apologizing for. It’s a sort of reflex for me, like how you put your hands in front of you when you trip. It’s a safety net. People get less angry if you seem like you feel bad.
The odd thing is, when I actually need to apologize for something I did, I have the hardest time.
There is something wrong with this.
Why do I feel like this need to apologize constantly?
Maybe it’s because I bully myself. I tell myself I’m stupid, or not good enough. I tell myself that people are angry at me. But, this is all my own perception. This isn’t a definite truth.
Or maybe it’s because others often tell me I’m wrong. I’m not a confident person, and for some reason, confident people prey on people like me. They ‘advise’ me and tell me all the ways I’m wrong, all in my best interest, of course. So I guess I’m used to feeling like I’m wrong.
But, I think it also comes from a desire to please. I don’t want anyone to be angry at me. There are many angry people in the world, but taking on the blame for all their feelings is both arrogant and dysfunctional. By saying I’m sorry, I make myself responsible, whether I am or not. Why would I add this unnecessary burden on myself?
I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to be constantly apologizing for things that don’t deserve an apology. Don’t get me wrong. Apologizing is great, but only if you actually did something wrong. But, you don’t need to take blame for things that aren’t your fault.
To combat this, I try to practice mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings and thoughts. From here, I can see what is clearly mine to deal with and what is not. Gradually, I notice these meaningless and disordered apologies leave my vocabulary. And when I realize that I have done something wrong, I try to say I’m sorry and mean it.