Saying “sorry” too often could be a sign of insecurity. Find out how to
replace the apology and appear confident and secure.
At a recent conference a woman asked, “What is the most common struggle
you see women face?” The answer is: dealing with inadequacy. So many
people don’t feel good enough.
One way to overcome our inadequacy is in how we apologize to people.
There are times common courtesy is replaced with our feelings of insecurity.
Think about the times we casually use the words “I’m sorry” and the reason
you say it. Phrases like, “I’m sorry to bother you.” “I’m sorry I haven’t gotten
back with you sooner.” “I’m sorry– you’re in my way.” “Sorry I can’t make
it.” There are times we use this phrase, not out of being polite, but because
we incorrectly assume people are going to think badly of us. By apologizing,
we feel like we’re creating a back-up plan to defend ourselves IF we are not
good enough. People respond to confidence better than doubt. Here are
three ways you can replace your apology.
1. “Sorry for the mess”:
Picture toys on the floor, mail scattered on the counter, and dishes left in the
kitchen skin. Suddenly, the doorbell rings and you have unexpected
company. You may feel that if one thing is out of place at home, it
automatically means you’re a bad mother or a bad homemaker. When you
answer the door, you may immediately feel a need to apologize for the state
of your home, that your home is not good enough, that people are going to
think badly of you. Recognize the false assumptions you are making and
consciously make an effort to replace your doubt filled apology with
confidence. Celebrate the day you can welcome people to your home even if
you have crayon marks on the wall and laundry piling in the corner. Stop
apologizing start welcoming.
Replace the apology with “Welcome to my home”
2. “Sorry I’m not very good”
You have just been asked to stand in front of a group of people and talk.
Your heart may pound. Your mind races through what to say. One of the
first phrases you express is, “I’m sorry.” You feel sorry you are up there,
sorry they have to listen to you, sorry that it is not “perfect Lisa” that they
hearing from. We often apologize when we are asked to share our ideas, or
when giving a presentation. The apology in this setting comes when we feel
we are not prepared or not smart enough and inadequate. A common phrase
people think is, “I’m not smart enough. _________ is smarter than I am.”
Instead of focusing so much on yourself, and your shortcomings, turn the
focus to others. Stop giving in to your fear of what other people think and
start seeing other people.
Replace with “You are going to learn…” or any other phrase that
includes recognizing another person. Take away the “I.”
3. “Sorry it’s not much”
You go to the store and spend hours searching shelves, rows, and racks, for
the right gift. After carefully selecting the perfect present, you wrap it with
care, even down to placing on detailed embellishments. When you arrive at
the party you take your precious gift, hand it to someone you care about and
say, “Sorry, it’s not much.” Why, when people put so much time and effort
into finding the perfect gift we still feel a need to apologize for it? In case
they don’t like it, think that we chose incorrectly, or judge that we didn’t
spend enough money we give ourselves an outlet to protect ourselves.
Remember the impacts of kindness on the lives of others and let that give
you strength to stop apologizing. From the simple to the well thought out,
the next time you share a gift with someone remember what a gift is. It in
itself is an act of kindness. It is enough. You are enough. If a person is not
accepting of your gift, then that other person is the one with the problem
and not you. Stop second guessing yourself and start remembering the
power of your compassion.
Replace with “I was thinking of you”
Karen Eddington is a Self-Worth Analyst and has spent over ten years
researching women and teens. She is the author of Today, I Live and directs
many community outreach programs on self-esteem. For more information
you can go to www.kareneddington.com