Sorry, Not Sorry: Reclaiming Apologies


“I’m sorry” is arguably one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. It has the ability to restore strained relationships and heal broken hearts. We use the phrase on a daily basis, but I bet many of us are using it wrong; we overuse, underuse, and abuse.

read an article about how women are more likely than men to apologize for things they shouldn’t. The article stated that it’s not because men are heartless, but rather they have a higher threshold of things for which they feel sorry. As women we are (typically) peace keepers, but sometimes we perceive the peace has been disrupted when in fact it has not.0001-36058396

Since reading the article, I’ve become hyperaware of my addiction to apologizing. I have even found myself apologizing for apologizing too much. To find out more about others’ experiences, I took to social media and asked my Facebook pals, “What is the silliest thing you’ve ever apologized for?” After reading the responses, I realized I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue of over-apologizing. So, here is my list of things for which we should stop apologizing.

“Inconveniencing” someone. I’m not sure when we started seeing ourselves (and each other) as inconveniences rather than people, but it has to stop. Here are a few examples:

  • Being bumped into. If someone bumps into you, you should not apologize. Be forgiving but not apologetic. You have a right to exist! This also goes for bumping into inanimate objects. Certainly I’m not the only one who has apologized to a mannequin, right?
  • Asking your waiter for more water or to correct your order. I say this not to sound rude, but it’s his or her job to serve you. I’m sure waiters want to do their job well.
  • Taking a long time in the checkout line. So you have a million coupons or you’re paying in pennies, who cares? With that said, don’t be a jerk and take your massive load through the 10 items or less line, everyone will curse you under their breath, or maybe even out loud.

Your feelings. Repeat after me: “I WILL STOP APOLOGIZING FOR HOW I FEEL!!!” Feelings are natural responses to life, we cannot control them. We can, however, control how we react to those feelings (excluding crying). Feeling frustrated that you can’t schedule a massage is not wrong; throwing your iPhone across the room (and subsequently breaking it) because you can’t schedule a massage is. (In my defense, I found out I was pregnant the next day. So, ya know, hormones and stuff.) I also want to put an emphasis on apologizing to your spouse or friend for venting. We need relationships where we can be open about our struggles, where we can share our burden with someone.

Things out of your control. Rolling the ball crookedly to your child, parking {a little} wonky, misunderstanding someone, or not hearing them altogether, these things are not worthy of your apologies. A simple “oopsey daisy” or “excuse me” will suffice. Note: offering your condolences in the form of “I’m sorry” is totally acceptable.

My then 1.5 year old devouring a greasy ole burger with conviction!
My son devouring a greasy ole burger with conviction! Won’t catch him apologizing for it.

Your convictions. We’re working moms. We’re stay-at-home moms. We breastfeed. We bottle feed. We eat processed food. We eat grass-fed, grain-free food. As moms, we make a million choices everyday about how we live our lives and raise our families. You should never apologize for the choices you make for your family. Ever. (This includes declining your neighbor’s invitation to their kid’s birthday party because it’s family day. Be grateful and decline politely yet unapologetically.)

Disciplining your kids. How many times have you told little Bobby, “I’m sorry you’re in timeout . . .” or “I’m sorry, but you can’t play with a switchblade large stick.” Yeah, stop doing that. It’s not your fault Bobby ended up in timeout, and I’m sure you would never actually be sorry for protecting your child from harm.

Asking your spouse/father of your children to watch your kid(s). I highly doubt he apologizes to you for leaving them with you, so why should you apologize to him? He is not your babysitter, he’s the father of your children, and he most likely loves the special time with them. Even if he doesn’t love it . . . he’s their daddy and it’s just as much his responsibility as it is yours.

It’s easy to get lost in the Sorry Swamp, but next time you’re tempted, I hope you’ll think to yourself, “Am I really sorry?”

What is the silliest thing you’ve ever apologized for?


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