I'm sorry. Not sorry

Have you ever opened the door for someone, and that someone instead of saying thank you, they replied “sorry?” Or if someone said, “excuse me” to get by, and once they passed they said, “I’m sorry?”

What exactly is there to be sorry about?

Is it unwise to ask someone that is in your way to allow you to get by? Of course not. So why do so many people use the word sorry as a means to justify an action that is understandably required or needed?

I have observed countless people saying sorry when there is absolutely nothing to be apologetic about. I’ve witnessed this characteristic more in women than I’ve seen in men. It's almost culturally embedded in women to feel as if they don't have the right to speak up, or they feel as if their opinion or voice isn't worthy to be heard.

I am sometimes guilty of this.

Honestly, if someone asked me “why are you breathing?”  I’d probably respond “I’m sorry.” YES, I got it bad.

Is it simply just a harmless habit or is there a deeper root to this madness?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'sorry' is defined as a feeling of distress, especially through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune. With this definition, it’s really hard to believe that those who tend to overuse the word are distressed or are sorrowful in the context for which they’ve used it.

Come on, we know you’re not sorry.

I believe that the overuse of the word sorry is a subconscious desire to not disappoint others. Often times, when you take this approach, you are diminishing the importance of yourself and your self-worth. But, I am sure to those who suffer from this Tourrettes-like condition, don't feel that they are consciously putting themselves down.

Dr. Paige Carambio, a Psychologist with C&C Psychological Services, believes that apologizing consistently can actually be an after-effect of trauma.

“It's a self-preservation technique survivors may think they still need to utilize in order to protect themselves.”

So in other words, those who tend to overuse the word ‘sorry’ are actually using the word as a safeguard.  This approach is taken to help thwart any negative connotation that they may or may not be met by.

But what’s the cure?

The first step would be to identify the purpose behind why you’re apologizing in the first place.  Are you trying to avoid conflict or are you trying to placate, to evade a negative outcome?  Are you trying to avoid expressing your authentic feelings or is there a feeling of intimidation?

It is very important to be aware of your feelings, so that you can pinpoint its driving cause.  Most importantly, you must listen to yourself and try to address the way you feel at the very moment you are apologizing.  In doing this, you can attempt to get to the root of the problem in an effort to help you break this habit. 

And remember, when you use the word sorry excessively, you can inadvertently lower your self-esteem and you don’t want to send the wrong impression to who you are irrelevantly apologizing to.  

Nevertheless, let’s all try to mean what we say, and say what we mean.  And going forward, lets all adopt a confident personality that is assertive and strong enough to say “thank you,” instead of “sorry,” when John opens the door for you.