some thoughts on apologizing too much

hi, loved ones. the pandemic is awful, full stop. but as i’ve been self-isolating in a house with my partner for, shit, nearly a year now, i’ve noticed that this time is a time of really deep-diving in that relationship. we’re the only people we see in person right now and that’s created an opportunity for us to have conversations about a lot of things that might otherwise have been overlooked because of time constraints. one of the things i’ve been thinking about is how much i say sorry.

while over-apologizing is not a behavior limited to folks who are marginalized, i think it can be especially prevalent among our communities because of how society has conditioned us to believe we should not take up space or, in many cases, even exist. i’d love to see us move away from apologizing when it’s not the time to apologize because i think doing so can free us from a lot of unneeded and harmful shame.

so i have some thoughts on apologizing too much/inappropriately and i hope they’re useful to you.

(this post is also available as an instagram post, if that’s more your speed!)

for folks who apologize constantly, like me, can be a hard habit to replace — even if the folks around us reassure us that we don’t need to apologize for xyz thing(s).

i think sometimes we say sorry when we mean or need something else, but haven’t had the practice saying it or find saying sorry easier. i think that identifying — and saying — what we really mean can deepen our relationships with others and with ourselves.

one thing i think we might sometimes mean instead of sorry is “thank you.”

instead of “sorry i’m such a mess.”

we might actually mean and/or be better served by saying something like “thank you for comforting me.”

instead of “sorry i’m talking so much.”

we might actually mean and/or be better served by saying something like “thank you for listening.”

saying sorry over and over throughout time spent with loved ones can be very taxing for them as they do the work to reassure me that i don’t need to apologize.

apologizing repeatedly implicitly asks for more work from them. reframing to gratitude is a more mutual approach. it reminds me to appreciate my loved ones and their care for me and lets them know their care is seen and appreciated.

another thing that i think we may sometimes mean when we say sorry is that we have a need or feeling we don’t know how to express or don’t have practice expressing.

i say sorry sometimes when i mean “i’m feeling insecure about how much attention i’m receiving right now”

or “i would really appreciate some reassurance that you love me and want to help me”

or “i feel self-conscious about how emotional i am”

there may be more work to do when i express those things, but at least when i’m honest, my loved ones and i can choose to do that work together.

saying how i’m actually feeling gives them the chance to engage with me about it and to meet my needs if they can and are willing. it deepens the intimacy of my relationships.

if y’all have thoughts on what apologizing constantly means for you, please share in the comments! i am definitely in the market for other ways to replace “sorry” with what i actually mean and/or need. ❤

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