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Stop Over-Apologising And How To Turn Them Into Gratitude

Updated: Jan 13

by Beatrix Kang. |

Apologies may be difficult for some, but a breeze for others, so easy that it has become a default reaction to conflict. Though apologies are a good practice of ownership and responsibility, apologising too frequently may result in insecurity and low self-esteem for certain people. Alternatively, a better response to conflict would be gratitude. Though hard to implement, especially in the heat of the moment, here are a few ways to implement gratitude instead of saying sorry all the time.

1. Recognise why you’re apologising

Before you say sorry, ask yourself “why am I apologising?” More often than not, though we think we are wrong, there are a few underlying reasons why we still apologise to others, and by identifying these reasons, we can come up with better internal responses to the situation.

Was it because you have done something wrong that went against your beliefs? This is a scenario in which we feel guilty and regret our actions, as we fail to stay accountable to ourselves, and with this revelation, we apologise to admit to our wrongs, and a promise that we will be better. With this, realisation, you can thank yourself for reminding yourself to be better and improve.

Alternatively, are you apologising because you feel bad for causing inconvenience? The apology usually comes from a scenario in which we have done something that has cost someone else their time and effort, and we cannot rectify it, so we feel like we owe them a barrage of apologies. Although this is true, if we only focus on the inconvenience caused, we also fail to acknowledge the effort that the other party has put in. Instead, take notice of the small things people have done for you even in the midst of the inconvenience, and appreciate the sacrifices they made for you.

Sometimes, you could also be apologising to avoid conflict. Apologies often come with an expectation of accepting blame for a situation, to avoid debate and further criticism, and though it keeps the peace for a while, it can easily topple power dynamics and create scapegoats. On the other hand, accept and thank conflict as it comes, for it gives you an opportunity to learn, may it be learning about a part of yourself to rectify or a person you might have to let go of.

2. Understand your triggers as to why you apologise easily

Apologising excessively is correlated with wanting to avoid a negative scenario by overcompensating with the apologies. This avoidance of a negative scenario can be different for everyone, and by knowing the triggers to over apologise can help you be more aware of your apologising tendencies and improvement points.

For example, if you feel like you are bothering people with your own mistakes and problems, as if you are taking up their space and energy, you could fear being a burden to others. Apologising in this scenario could mean that people or close ones have told you that you were being bothersome to them when you are simply expressing your needs.

Besides that, if you are apologising over and over after you make a mistake, even after your apologies have been accepted, you might fear that your failure was beyond saving. There might have been instances in the past where you have failed and the negative emotions were so intense, you might not know how to deal with it now, other than being sorry for what happened.

On top of that, if something unfortunate has happened, like an accident that was not anyone’s fault, and you find yourself still apologising for the situation, it is possible that you fear losing control of your life. This could imply that there were moments in the past that something drastic has happened in which you felt powerless to control and accept as it is.

Instead, recognise these fears as rational and essential to your growth, and that apologising cannot take these fears away and minimise them. Thank these fears for helping you recognise and understand what can hurt you, and draw boundaries accordingly. Then, in the future, when you find yourself feeling compelled to apologise, you can identify the cause of it, and reduce the apologies.

3. Develop better methods of facing confrontation

Dealing with confrontations or owning up to feeling like a burden requires a lot more bravery, especially after you default to apologising as a response to problems. However, you can still learn how to stand your ground and develop healthier responses.

As an example, ask questions on how you can improve or be better after committing a mistake. This shows that you value their criticism of your performance, and look to them for a more holistic answer, whilst showing you have confidence that you can fix the issue. Then, thank them for the feedback, and take note of them, may it be physically on a notepad, or mentally.

You can also take notice of and acknowledge the efforts that people have made to make up for your shortcomings. These are little things that you can notice and add into your dialogue with people to show that you appreciate their efforts. For example, if you were late to a meeting, instead of just saying “I am so sorry for being late. ”, you can also add “nevertheless, thank you for being patient with me still. ”

Besides that, you can also form pause boundaries when you feel attacked and require some time to cool down. For example, if you have been yelled at by a senior, instead of directly attacking them back or shrinking back and playing the lesser person, spend some time apart and allow the moment to cool and calm down. You can analyse and take responsibility for your part of the confrontation and allow the hurt feelings to pass, as well as allow the senior to take his time to formulate better responses too.

Gratefulness can be the hardest response to conflict, especially since it requires there to be an acceptance of the loss of control, and a lack of need to assign blame to anyone. But it does create a better response and a healthier state of mind to all the parties involved.

You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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