Trying to Not Be Sorry

I set myself an abstract but ambitious new year’s resolution: I want to stop saying “I’m Sorry” for things I’m not actually apologizing for. I’m trying to say things like “excuse me,” “can you repeat that,” or “it sucks that happened to you/you feel that way.”

So far, it has been a HARD habit to break; but it has made me more aware of the things I say and taken away my autopilot answer. The way I see it, if I say “I’m sorry” for things like someone having a bad day or not understanding something someone said, I water down what those words really mean, and I’m giving mindless, insincere responses to things and situations that have nothing to do with me actually apologizing.

More importantly though, and the reason I’m trying to break the habit, is that “I’m sorry” is a deferential phrase. If “I’m sorry” for absences, not hearing or understanding, or setting personal boundaries that upset other people, I constantly humble myself and defer to others, which after a while diminishes my self-esteem.

The words are still quick to jump to my tongue, but I pause, swallow them, and come up with more appropriate words for the situation. It’s uncomfortable for a second since it’s a conditioned instant response, but I’m finding that I feel more powerful saying anything from “can you repeat that” to “that really sucks to hear.” Once I get the hang of this, when I say “I’m sorry,” I will really mean it.


Hey there,

I think this new year’s resolution is a really powerful one! Our words truly do have weight to them and I admire your commitment to being mindful of that! “I’m sorry” is something I think a lot of people automatically say (myself included) and I think it does tend to take a toll on self esteem when that is the response given to most things. It’s okay for us to ask people to repeat themselves, ask for clarification and for us to set boundaries as well. Things like that are healthy boundaries and habits and I feel as though health is not something to apologize for but to strive for. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Hannah Rhodes

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