People pleasers are creative, I will give them that.
They come up with all types of ways to say, “I’m sorry”.
They are so used to saying “I’m sorry” that it’s just woven into their everyday interactions.
Once I gave myself homework to count all the times I apologized during a day. I was amazed at the ways that crappy phrase found its way into so many common everyday interactions.
Let me know if any of these resonate! I have a feeling I’m not the only one who falls into these apology habits.
The pre-emptive apology
“Hi. I’m sorry. Have you all already ordered?”
You aren’t late. You’ve just arrived at the restaurant and a few friends are already sitting at the table getting settled. But your general stance is to go ahead and apologize just in case you have accidentally offended someone for something, anything that you aren’t aware of.
So, you apologize.
The excuse me apology
“Oh I’m-sorry-excuse-me, I just need to get an almond milk. So sorry for reaching!”
You’re at the grocery store and you need almond milk and there is a person standing in front of the almond milk shelf. Apparently, they are making a life-or-death decision about alternative dairy milk products, or at least it appears to be because you’ve waited for a full 2 mins for them to move on.
All you need is almond milk but for some reason you feel or are worried you are putting the other person out by reaching into their area to get your item.
So, you apologize.
The polite apology
“Oh, I’m sorry go ahead”.
You are approaching the door to Home Goods right at the same time another patron is walking up, so you hold the door for them. And for some reason you apologize.
You’re not sure if you did something wrong by having the same timing and arriving at the door together. But its best if you defer to them and allow them to enter the store ahead of you.
And of course, add an “I’m sorry” into the mix.
The soften-the-blow apology
“I’m sorry I was next in line.”
You are in line at the grocery store (why does everything happen at the grocery store?) and the self-check-out lane is all kinds of wonky. You know where the lines ends because you studied the situation because you aren’t a heathen!
You are next in the cue, but this jack-hole walks up and hasn’t looked around to see what’s what and steps up to get the next open register and somehow you say fumble out “I’m sorry, I am next”.
Are you really sorry? Hell no. But isn’t an apology a great way to lay down the law?
So, you apologize.
The clean-up apology
“Oh sure, I understand. Yeh, you’re probably right. I was just trying to…”
IF…and this is a big IF…If you do speak up about something and the other person either pauses too long, or their face contorts or heaven forbid they push back, then you go into overdrive apologizing.
You start backpedaling and explaining yourself and sharing how you understand you are the jerk, and they are justified in some weird way. You scramble to explain yourself more and, in the end, you flat out acquiesce to keep the peace.
Arrrgggghhhh!!! Yet, another unnecessary apology.
The grateful apology
“Oh, thank you so much for helping me with this. It’s just that I paid that fee last month and then when I got this past due notice I was confused. Thanks so much for helping me.”
When you somehow find the courage to express your frustration, disagreement or general displeasure with someone through email and they agree with you and remedy the situation.
Great! Now you feel guilty. You must have been an asshole. You must have bullied them. Pushed too hard for what you want. How dare you?
The take-one-for-the-team apology
“Oh, that’s completely okay. It was probably my fault for asking you to meet when your kid was at soccer. I should have realized this was a bad time for you. I’m sorry there was a mix up.”
A mix up with scheduling occurs and you know it’s not your fault. You are super on top of your calendar, but nonetheless there has been a snafu and you are inconvenienced.
You reach out to check in with the person and they apologize for their lack of planning and yet you just can’t help yourself…you apologize.
You take the hit yourself so you can preserve the friendliness in the relationship.
So really, that is just a FEW of the ways I found myself automatically apologizing for being alive. Once I started consciously paying attention to how easy it was to excuse my being…I started getting mad for one-downing (not one-upping) myself so often.
Now I just stay silent. But not in a demur way. I really just hold my tongue and see what happens when I don’t try to diffuse non-existent tension in situations. It’s been a little experiment that has shown me that I am allowed to take up space with other people. Uncomfortable as that may be, it’s better than acquiescing all the time and being angry inside.