Don’t Be Sorry. Apologize and Grow Stronger

Provided by Evan from Mind Power Grow

clear glass chess piece on black and white checkered table
Photo by Rolanda de Wet on

I’ll admit it. This is something that I did for a long time and let me tell you – it’s a bad habit.

When I was younger, I was very non-confrontational. I was the type of kid who thought that everything could be resolved without conflict. I learned that if you just said sorry and moved on with your life, things normally went pretty smoothly. And this is true to some extent. You have to be careful though. In my case, there came a point where I became so accustomed to apologizing that I started saying it compulsively.


Even when it didn’t make sense. Even if I did nothing wrong. Even if nothing was wrong.


Sorry became my go-to word to blurt out when I felt uncomfortable, awkward, or embarrassed.

This is the crux of the issue.

When you’re constantly apologizing, you can trick yourself into thinking that you’ve done something wrong. It’s very easy to think, “I always have to apologize because I’m always screwing things up.” But again, that wasn’t even the case. It was the other way around. I conditioned myself to always be sorry and this formed a negative feedback loop. My default was to be sorry, which lowered my self-esteem, which negatively impacted my performance, which in turn actually gave me something to be sorry for. I had created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Another negative byproduct of over-apologizing is opening yourself up to bullies and abuse. Don’t let people use you as their scapegoat. Because let me tell you something about humans – Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. When things go wrong, people are already looking for someone to blame. It’s never their fault and taking responsibility is in short supply. So when you just offer up “sorry”, you’re signaling to others, “I have something to be sorry for.” In other words, it’s my fault. People will jump all over it.

Take responsibility for yourself and focus on what you can control

Now, for the record, I take full responsibility for my life and I have no problem apologizing if I’ve done something wrong. We all make mistakes and sometimes all you can do is apologize.

Some people apologize too often and some not often enough. I strive to be somewhere in the middle.

Now I look at it differently. I apologize for my mistakes but I don’t carry the sorriness with me. I learn from my mistakes and I move on.

I wrote this because I’m sure there are other serial-apologists out there.
And I’m letting you know that if you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will either. And over-apologizing will only hurt your self-esteem and make you a target.

Be confident, always do your best, and do right by others.

If you do this, you won’t have much to be sorry for anyway.

Originally posted on Mind Grow Power

59 thoughts on “Don’t Be Sorry. Apologize and Grow Stronger

  1. “Apologize and grow stronger”. I’m definitely taking this into my own view of apologizing. I also have habits of being a serial-apologist but I’ve learnt to catch myself and correct myself by not being sorry for the things I’m actually not sorry for, like being awkward or weird. I’ve found myself being sorry for being petite because everyone else around me seems to be on the fuller side. But I’m aware now that somethings should not be apologized for. This just made it real.🍃

    1. A lot of this resonates with me. I was bullied at school and work. I apologised a lot. It was not liked at work (neither was me giving my side)

      1. It’s time we stop bullying ourselves and show more love to ourselves. The bullies did their damage but we should not allow it to be permanent. It’s up to us to stand up for ourselves, anywhere in life At work, at home. I think that’s more important than always apologizing.

    2. Hey Beau! I’m glad that my post resonated with you and I’m glad that you’re headed in the right direction. Thanks for sharing.

    1. To be honest, I’m familiar with either of them. But I’ll take your word on it! 😉

      Thanks for the comment, Kurt.

  2. I absolutely relate to this! It hits me right in the face. I had this time in my life where I found myself having saying “sorry” as a safety blanket. It became a sort of shield that was entirely not healthy because it became a self-defense mechanism. Thankfully, I learned and it was the hard way. Thank you for sharing! I hope people learn that more than being sorry, it is the aftermath that really matters—to show up and really be sorry both in words and actions.

    Thank you, it was a nice read!

    1. You’re welcome, Elijah!

      I can appreciate what you’re saying. A self-defense mechanism is a great way to describe it. You just start doing it more and more until you realize that it’s become apart of you. We need to reserve apologies for when they’re truly appropriate and actually mean it like you said.

  3. I suffered from the same phenomenon growing up and still can plague me today!
    I found mapping out my self-worth helped me assert myself and greating a vision for my life gave me an entitlement which I did not believe I had before.

    Thank you for sharing

    1. You’re welcome! It definitely takes a while to break this habit – especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time. Which I’m sure most of us have. Making sure that we catch ourselves when we slip up though has done wonders for me. I still do it occasionally, but progress is progress! 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughts, aripoyurs

  4. Thanks for this. As I’ve learnt too being harmless is not virtuous. A monster who does not act monstrously – that’s true virtue. When you need to, you should not scared to let that inner beast out and stand up for yourself, and it doesn’t have to be aggressive or violent, but you have to have the capability of being forceful when need be. And there is always a way to be forceful yet level headed and rational.

    1. Ajay, good point! The first time I stood up for myself was the hardest. I felt guilty and apologized immediately after. Since then, my amazing manager at work reminds me that I have the right to stand up for myself. It is helpful to have someone on your side to help and keep our virtues on the right path.

      1. Sometimes all you need is to do it once. After we know that we’re capable of it, we can continue on with more confidence just knowing that we have it in our back pocket. Having someone on your side to help remind you is nice too 🙂

        Thanks for sharing, spirituallovewarrior.

    2. Hey Ajay. You’re welcome!

      I agree. For me it wasn’t virtuous, it was a lack of confidence. It felt noble and like I was being the bigger man, but in reality, I was afraid to act. I agree with your last point too. There’s a way to stick up for ourselves without being aggressive. To be cool, calm, and confident, I suppose 😉

    1. Hi Danielle! I’m actually the one who wrote the post. 🙂 Bogdan was kind enough to post it on Pointless Overthinking as a guest post! I’m glad to hear that you liked it though. 😀

  5. One of the strangest cultural practices I noticed upon my first visit to the UK was their use of the word “sorry”. Whereas Americans say “excuse me” after committing a faux pas, Londoners say “sorry”. This made me believe our British friends were submissive. I still ponder this practice sometimes.

    1. Interesting! I’ve never heard of that, but I would definitely agree that over-apologizing makes you more submissive. Also, in my experience, it seriously affects your self-esteem.

      I appreciate you sharing, swabby.

  6. This is very relatable. It’s good to be open to feedback and accept responsibility when you misstep, but it’s all too easy to fall into apologizing even when you’ve done nothing wrong and hope that others meet you halfway. The ability to calmly make your case in response to hostility rather than blurt out “I’m sorry” is a very valuable one.

    1. You nailed it Nick. Hoping that others meet you halfway is really the kicker. Because as I’m sure we all know, most people won’t. Something that really made it click for me was: if you won’t stand up for yourself, what makes you think anyone else will?

      1. Well said Evan. I think a lot of us need to work calmly and assertively conveying our side of the the story and letting people know when they’ve done us wrong.

  7. I was just like this myself until one day I couldn’t take it any more. I was miserable and decided to change. My family and friends didnt take the change too well at first, but accepted it. They learned to accept that I am no longer a door matt. It was the hardest and toughest change I had to make. Applause and congratulations to all of my fellow serial apologizers who bravely took a step forward. Stay true to who you are and become who you are meant to be.

    1. I’m happy to hear that you made the change! It was definitely awkward for me at first, too. I used to not be able to speak my mind and would keep things bottled up. So early on while trying to improve at that, I would often go too far in the opposite direction. It takes time and we learn as we go. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed my piece and thank you for sharing.

  8. Nice one! Went down memory lane surely!! I’m one of the compulsive apologist who turned out to be a rebel in later years. But surely, whatever you shared carries lot of seriousness.

    1. Thanks Pushkar.

      Ah, you’re an inspiration! I’m working on making a similar transition myself. I still take things a bit too seriously, but I’m a work in progress. 😉

  9. I have been trying to get over that habit for a long time myself. I’d just say “sorry” and try to fix the problem fast as I could, or hunker down in my hole. But eventually it leads to people assume that you’re the reason something happens because you’re always apologizing. I remember being a kid and I always did the chores (definitely a cinderella existence). But because I was always in the kitchen, if a dish broke, I’d hear somebody yell my name and wonder what I did. One time I was clear across the house, and in the same room with the person who reflexively yelled my name, assuming I broke the glass. That told me I was a doormat and needed to really stop just trying to keep the peace.

    I got tired of taking the blame in my jobs later on just to keep the peace, because it became clear I was the only one interested in the peace and just getting back to the job. Not fair. But when you’ve been basically groomed to be a “good kid” and “be seen and not heard,” eventually when you want to speak, you’re still not gonna be heard. It’s a bad habit and needs to end.

    I’ve actually had kids who did something wrong say “sorry” on reflex. I always ask them “what are you sorry for?” Most of them just blink at me like “but I said I was sorry–you’re just supposed to take it.” If they know, then I’m good with it. If they don’t know what they should be “sorry” for, I let them know about what they said or the rule they broke and tell them not to say “sorry” unless they know why they’re doing it. I had 9th graders when I first started teaching that just said “sorry” out of reflex to get it over with. After a couple times telling them not to bother unless they knew why they were doing it, i had less trouble out of them after that and we had a bit of a respect for each other. I was trying to treat them like adults, and they began treating me like their teacher.

    1. It definitely takes time to get over it. Like you, at a certain point, it just became so engrained in me. It was my go-to solution for anything bad. Someone’s mad? Sorry. Something went wrong? Sorry. Someone is mad at another person? Sorry. Like you said, it just becomes so reflexive. I think the biggest issue of it all is that when you’re constantly saying it, at a certain point you really do convince yourself that you deserve to be sorry. That you do things that warrant apologies.

      It’s a strange issue. Certainly not as flashy or front and center as most issues, but it’s still important to address. I’m both happy and sad that so many people have been able to relate to this post – I didn’t expect it.

      But thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts 🙂

  10. I was guilty of this in the past. I was pretty much programmed by my mother to be sorry for everything. I stopped being ‘sorry’ for everything over a decade ago. I apologize if I make a mistake. Period. Great post!

    1. Thanks Deb!

      I agree. Apologize, make amends, and move on. Simple as that. I’m glad to hear that you’ve made a positive change. 🙂

  11. I’ve always hated confrontations and will do almost anything to avoid them unless I feel like I (or someone else) has been the victim of an injustice and then I will find the strength to speak out. Some of us are raised by very polite people who taught a rigorous form of politeness. (I suppose being raised to always be non-confrontational and extraordinarily polite is not the worst thing that could happen to a person.) At any rate, I’m attempting (but not very successfully) to say that your piece resonated with me. Thanks for writing it.

    1. You’re welcome Troy!

      I definitely understand where you’re coming from and I would say I was raised similarly. Maybe not quite to the extreme, but I get it. And for what it’s worth, I totally agree. Being overly polite and non-confrontational isn’t even close to the worst thing. But there are definitely benefits to dialing it back a bit 🙂

      I’m glad that my piece resonated with you and thank you for your comment.

  12. I had this same issue growing up. It made my dad really uncomfortable and he tried hard to make sure I stopped it.

    I am learning everyday to live my truth and not apologise unnecessarily. It kinda helped me channel my energy into things that reinforce my growth.

    Here are some of the things I even took out of the #stayhome period👇🏼👇🏼

    1. Hi Oddball!

      It’s a process and something that you’ll improve at with time. Just focus on catching yourself when you do slip up.

      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      1. Definitely. It’s not easy but I am going to be gentle with myself.

  13. As an early childhood educator, I’m adamant about not teaching young children to say sorry.
    Ugh! Such a meaningless word!
    Instead, I encourage children to observe the faces of others, describe the feeling, then see how they (the offending child) can help the other person feel better.
    My husband says “I’m sorry” almost more than any other phrase. I know he believes he’s doing the right thing, however it feels so empty to hear him constantly apologizing. His sorrys are meaningless, even though he’s coming from a sincere place.
    What a wonderful post! Thank you! ❤

    1. Hey Robyn, you’re welcome!

      Yea it’s interesting. I think one of the reasons that really compelled me to change was like you said, my ‘sorrys’ became meaningless. I wasn’t actually sorry when I said sorry. Then when there really was something worth being sorry about, it sounded like all the others. Boy who cried wolf sort of stuff I suppose.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed my piece and thank you for sharing! 🙂

  14. Many do it just for the social acceptance and avoiding any conflict whatsoever. When you say sorry the presumption is you become likable since you accepted and are one of those who care. Using the word with discretion is fine but then repetition instills a belief of wrong-doer with low self esteem. Loved the post because of its true admission.

    1. Thanks Rahul!

      Yes, I agree. The self-esteem aspect is a big deal. We should apologize when it’s appropriate and act kindly. But over-apologizing doesn’t help anyone. Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  15. I am only 25% into this & need to comment. I used to say Sorry about literally everything even when it did not apply. Even my friends would do it too & nobody that I met outside this group of friends would get it. Sometimes it made people look at me suspiciously so I would in turn feel guilty over muttering a word for no reason, but reflecting on how that kind of messed with my sense of self & reality. I also try to catch myself before saying that word & it is empowering when you feel/ notice the shift in yourself & the world around you when you stop saying that word unless it actually applies to the situation. So on point! Thank you!

  16. Hey April! You’re welcome.

    A group of friends all developing that habit is interesting, but it seems reasonable. And I totally agree. It’s crazy the impact that it can have on your mood and overall perspective. Then the people giving you suspiciously makes sense because from their perspective they’re probably thinking “Sorry? Uh oh, what did you do..?” When in reality you didn’t do anything wrong. 🙂

    1. Yes it was somewhat odd a group of friends all developing this; some of them would just kind of say it i think in a joking kind of way as something to say. We all kind of talked like valley girls so it was somewhat more of a space filler. We had other little phrases we would say too. After reading your full article I am so grateful that you touched upon this topic. As I lost touch with that group I bet they all dropped the “Sorry” yet I did not. I even remember a guy I just started dating left me in an angry rage for saying sorry. He kept saying I was hiding something & was questioning stuff about me. I tried explaining it was something I just said without thinking. I even do not like writing it unless it is truly necessary. After repeating that word for so many years constantly it warped my mind so much without me even realizing it. I even started crying after reading your article, because I could identify with it so much. It is like you are convicting yourself of “imaginary crimes” over and over again/ punishing yourself. I am a very honest person and if I do something wrong I will take responsibility and apologize. However, I was using it so much when it was not called for, which I believe made other people think they could play headgames with me and take advantage of this weakness. I will be re-reading this article to stay on top of this as sometimes I slip back on occasion.

  17. Thank you for sharing this article and viewpoint. I overused the words “I’m sorry” for the majority of my life and know exactly where you are coming from with this message. Responsibility for ones own actions is a tough pill to swallow for many of us.

  18. My story is in reverse. I grew up fighting everything. I never wanted to be wrong or look dumb so Id argue points till the other person was exhausted. Then in my 20s I started to lose that ego and started apologizing even when I knew I hadnt done anything wrong. Like you said theres some people who if you give an inch they take a mile. By my 30s I was the one who was exhausted ha ha. I now have found a great balance of defending myself while also keeping empathy for the other persons feelings. Im so bummed it took me decades to have the maturity to figure this out!

    1. Hi Kailea! That’s interesting! We all have our own journeys, but I’m glad that you’ve found a balance that works for you. 🙂

  19. What an entertaining post Evan, I agree that people often say sorry as an automated response, I find myself saying “ why you apologising?” It’s certainly a British thing, Mind you some people actually need to, and don’t. I suppose that it would be too much to ask of some folks. These people should serially engage brain before putting mouth in action then we’d all have our fair share of not needing to get on the perpetual sorry go round 😎😉 Maybe some of us are just too nice for our own good 😂

    1. Thank you Milly! 🙂

      I know! Funny how that works. The ones who need to do it don’t do it and the ones who do it enough tend to do it too much. Although, if I’m going too much in either direction, I’m fine with just a little over-apologizing 😉

  20. This is a great read. And the information is on point. I know because this was my life growing up and I never want to go back to being that way.

  21. Thank you, riosensei. 😀

    I’m glad that you could relate, but I’m 100% with you – I’m past that and never going back! 🙂

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