How to Stop Apologizing All the Time

I have a concern.  My little girl is a kind, loving, polite one.  A great kid. I’m not just saying that, it’s one of the first things people notice about her.  Just yesterday we went to go meet her pre-school teacher and as she was wandering around the room, (and I was asking the very necessary questions to make it sound like I’m so excited and not at all nervous about this big step for our little family) she went over to the toys and picked up every one.  The teacher said, “Wow, she is the first one to go pick up the toys.  Ever.”

How to Stop Apologizing All the Time
How to Stop Apologizing All the Time

I want to her to be kind, loving and caring about those around her, but I’m noticing a trend lately.

“Sorry Mommy,” she says when she makes a mess. In the playroom.  During playtime.

“I sorry, Mommy,” when something spills (that was often my fault.)

“Oh no.  Sorry,” when I ask a question to which she didn’t know the answer.

She’s a great kid. Kind and loving, she doesn’t need to apologize.

It sounds subservient.  She doesn’t need to present herself like that to the world.  How do I help her distinguish when to use the term, “I’m sorry,” and when to use other terms.  Is that asking too much of a three year-old?

And I realized, she is doing exactly what I do. She is mimicking my daily behavior.   WHOA.  Wake up call.  Do I really apologize that much?  What am I sorry for?  I don’t need to make excuses for my choices.  I should enjoy them.  I’m just beginning to understand that, “I’m sorry,” isn’t always the best word to show kindness, compassion and love to others.

So after an intense, candid review of my daily behavior, my word choice, and my life, I’m conducting an experiment.  This week I declare My Anti-Apology Week.  Instead of “I’m sorry,” I’ve come up with a few other phrases to incorporate.   Next week I’ll report back how that went.

See, I can see how it starts out being nice. But I have got to stop saying I’m sorry, when I’m not really sorry. You know exactly what I’m talking about, dontcha? You think you are being polite.  That’s not what we’re doing, girl.  This is hard to hear, I know.  I’ve had to sort this out in my mind.

I need to set the expectations for how I expect to be treated in life.  I need to ask for exactly what I need to be happy.  No one will do it for me.  I can’t expect others to know it. That’s my job.  If I’m apologizing all the time I’m telling others that I’m really not worth the investment.  I’m not worth their time.  Are you doing this too?   I thought so.

Without realizing it,  we  are making ourselves seem “less than.” And YOU  are certainly not “less than.”  I am not “less than.”  We all have tremendous value.

You are BEAUTIFUL.  You are RADIANT.  You are changing the world with all of your love, and kindness, and sincere ability to care about others.  You don’t have to apologize for that!  In fact, we should all be thanking you even more for all those moments you are lifting and holding it together when so many are depending on you.

I don’t watch much TV on TV anymore.  Who does?  But YouTube shared a commercial while waiting for some important info and this little nugget just blew my mind.

Then I read this article from Fast Company.  It’s not just a Mom thing, it’s not just a wife thing.  It’s a Woman Thing.  And we can all benefit from these tips.  (And by all, I mean me included.)

As part of My Anti- Apology Week, I will do the following.

Instead of saying, “I’m Sorry” I will say:

“Once again?”

If I don’t hear what someone said, I’m not really sorry about it, I just want the other person to repeat their statement.  And I have no reason to apologize for that.  I may be saying, “Once again,” several times this week, but I’m not sorry for asking.  I want to understand what the other person is telling me.

“Pardon me.”

I may have bumped someone.  Admittedly, I’m not exactly…graceful.   But there’s no need to be sorry for that.  This world is a crowded, full place.  And we don’t always walk in a straight line, a simple pardon will be better than apologizing.  Accidents happen.  We’re human.  I will say, “Pardon,” but I’m not sorry to have bumped into someone.  I didn’t do it intentionally.  Just not my style.

“Here you go.”

I’m passing this task/ assignment/child/dinner plan/extracurricular project that-doesn’t-fit-into-my-life-right-now over to you, not because I’m not capable.  Because my plate is too full.  And while I thoroughly believe in the vision/dream/human development/ideal of the work, I am taking a moment, or an hour, or a day, or a week, or a lifetime to work on something else.  Anything else that I need to.  Yup. I’m done with this.  It’s all yours. And this has been a great opportunity.  Thank you so much for helping me learn a valuable lesson.  I’m not sorry, though.

“That’s not good.”

When I’m chatting with friends, I’m not really sorry for what they are going through.  This may be the perfect opportunity for them to learn a life lesson.  If I’m empathizing with them,  I don’t have to apologize to do so.  I need to be a better listener, and when someone explains something difficult, I’ll use, “That’s not good.”  Or even better, “How can I help you with this?”

“How about a hand here?”

If I need help with something, I’m really not sorry about it.  If I’m hauling in supplies or groceries, an extra hand would be a great help.  Why don’t I ask for exactly what I need?  This may be one that I struggle with the most.


If someone is telling me a story, or moving too fast for me to follow, I’m certainly not sorry.  They are talking about something that is moving faster than I’m comprehending.  Or, perhaps they’ve left out an important detail.  No more apologizing because I’m not quite caught up on the details.

“Tell me more.”

Similar to wait, when friends get telling their story, they already know all the details.  If I am trying to comprehend, a simple “Wait,” will help get some clarity rather than saying, “I’m sorry.”  I’m certainly not sorry if don’t completely get the point.  And I want to understand exactly what was happening at that critical convo you had with your boss/boyfriend/child.

Tell me in the comments, my friend, Is this something you need to work on, too?  How will you quit apologizing? What other phrases would you recommend?