Why Are We Always Apologizing?


A few months ago at the grocery store I turned a corner and almost ran into someone. Neither one of us saw the other coming. Instantly, I responded with, “oh, sorry!” And to this day I will never forget his reaction,

“Why are you sorry?”

In that moment I started noticing how often I am apologizing and interestingly how often other women are apologizing. Rather than saying, “oh excuse me!” we quickly take the blame for whatever it is and move out of the way as to not create attention to ourselves.

Over the weekend I was on a trip down in southern Utah. Like I have mentioned in the past, I am a newer mountain biker and climber. Whenever I feel insecure about myself or my abilities, I tend to over discuss why I am doing what I am doing... but something else I found myself doing as well is sticking an “I’m sorry” after every other sentence.

By the end of the weekend I started noticing how often “I’m sorry” came out of my mouth. It made me question what is it that I am apologizing for... and why those words spill out of my mouth so frequently.

Here is what I discovered:

I apologize because for so long I had a fear of being a burden, or getting in the way. I also think it is a natural response because of how often I used to people please - I never wanted anyone else to think that something was their fault, that it was easier for me to take the blame rather than that person getting upset with me/I wanted to avoid all conflict. When I was younger, I wanted to make everyone else happy and feel safe and accepted and included because I felt so far from that growing up in school.  

And while I have noticed that I am not actually “sorry” for certain things, it is interesting to understand why it is still such a natural response for me. Is it just a habit that needs breaking or do I still have some of those fears? Do I still have people pleasing tendencies? Do I still have a desire to fit in?

So I’ve practiced just noticing every time I apologize for something and why I am doing it. Is there a fear driving those words? Am I actually sorry? Or would there be a better way to handle this without apologizing for my existence. Can I be proud or confident on my own? Can I stand my ground and stand up for myself rather than avoiding a hard conversation?

Does “I’m sorry,” spill out easily and often for you? Maybe it is time to dissect these words.

What are you apologizing for?