Over-apologizing, while not necessarily harmful, is a sign that you have low self-esteem.
So if you want to address your self-esteem issues, one way to do it is to take a hard look at yourself and see if you say “sorry” more than you should.
In this article, I will give you 10 signs that you’re indeed an over-apologizer.
1) You say sorry by reflex
Sorry, sorry, sorry.
It’s become your favorite word that you might as well print it on a mug.
Not a day passes that you don’t say “sorry” to anyone.
Just a quick trip to the grocery store would make you say “sorry” at least once. When you spend a few seconds counting your coins at the counter, you say sorry to the cashier like you just stole something.
When you don’t understand what a fellow customer is saying to you, you say “sorry” for letting them repeat what they said (and you actually feel guilty for it!) even if it’s their fault because they’re chewing food while talking.
Just like any habit, you might not be aware of it. And while it’s not the most harmful habit, it can affect you psychologically—it can make you feel inferior.
And more than that, it can affect how people see and treat you. Some people are mean and they find their prey by smelling the “weakness” of others, and they particularly like the smell of people who say sorry often.
2) You say sorry even if it’s no one’s fault
Accidents happen and sometimes it’s hard to tell whose fault it really is, but for some reason, you automatically take the blame for it. And so you say sorry.
When you bump heads with someone while walking on the street, you say sorry like you’re the one who caused it, when in fact, both of you (or none of you) are at fault.
It’s as if there’s a finger always being pointed at you for all the things that could go wrong in this world even if it’s not really your fault!
Cut yourself some slack. If it’s not clear that it’s your fault, there’s absolutely no need to apologize.
3) You say sorry for things beyond your control
You say sorry when you planned for a picnic with friends….and it rained. Or if the traffic is bad, or if there’s a lot of mosquitos, or there’s an asteroid hitting earth.
Again, for some reason, you take the blame for things. What’s funny is that you take the blame even if you’re inconvenienced by the situation, too!
I mean…you don’t want it to rain, do you? No one wishes for something bad to happen.
But when you see the disappointment in your companions’ faces, you feel guilty as if you commanded the heavens to give you bad luck.
4) You say sorry when you don’t meet people’s standards
You say sorry when you cook a meal and they find it too bland or too salty or too greasy.
You say sorry if the flowers you picked for your mother didn’t impress her.
You say sorry if your work doesn’t satisfy your teacher.
When people are displeased by you and they make sure you feel bad about yourself, you won’t even get angry.
You wouldn’t think “How dare you! You’re eating the food I prepared and all you do is complain?!” Instead, you would quickly apologize for not meeting their standards.
5) You say sorry for who you are
When your boyfriend comments on how you shouldn’t wear make-up because it makes you ugly, you sheepishly say sorry and remove your makeup.
When people stare at you because you snort when you laugh, you say sorry as if you’re spreading some disease.
When you have a chronic illness and you’re easily worn down, you apologize for bothering others.
Look, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You should be your own advocate!
Everyone should be able to exist just the way they are as long as they’re not inconveniencing anyone. And this is also your way to protect yourself from abuse.
“Sorry” is just a word, but when you use it as a token for others to control you and abuse you, then you better make some changes before you put yourself in toxic situations.
6) You say sorry for not replying to texts at lightning speed
You feel guilty when you let someone wait for your reply even if it’s just five minutes.
You feel like not replying fast is a crime. And so you say sorry every time someone waits for you.
You know you shouldn’t feel this way but you can’t help but feel guilty because it’s as if you’re deliberately ignoring someone…and you’re not the kind of person who makes others feel bad about themselves!
Look, your time matters too. If you’re busy, don’t feel guilty for not replying fast. And to be honest, it’s perfectly fine not to reply fast unless there’s a major emergency. Yes, we’re all allowed to reply whenever we find it convenient.
You shouldn’t keep saying “Sorry, late reply” if it’s only a few hours and no one dies because you forgot to send a message.
7) You say sorry when setting boundaries
It’s generally hard for you to set boundaries, and so when you do, you find it soooo difficult that you end up saying sorry—A LOT.
In fact, a part of you wants to take it all back once you see their reaction to your boundaries because of just how guilty it makes you feel.
You say “I’m sorry but you can’t keep eating my lunch anymore…..Oh no, wait. I’m sorry!!!” Then you will feel so bad you’d even say “I can just bring you extra lunch if you want.”
You didn’t even stop to think that YOU’RE the one who’s being inconvenienced in this situation. And that THEY should be the one who should be saying “sorry”.
8) You say sorry for speaking up
You usually keep quiet even if you don’t completely agree on something someone said. That’s probably because it’s in your nature to stay away from conflict and confrontation.
That’s why in those rare instances where you DO have the courage to speak up, you are very apologetic.
You will express what’s on your mind as politely as possible, and end every sentence with “sorry” or “forgive me” or “With all due respect.”
It doesn’t matter if they’re obviously wrong and you’re obviously right about something. You still feel bad expressing your opinion because you’re worried that they’d get offended simply because you don’t agree with what they’re saying.
9) You say sorry for prioritizing yourself
With all the campaigns for self-love and mental health these days, you’re well aware that there’s ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with prioritizing oneself, especially if you’re not feeling well.
But when you say no to an invitation, you feel bad. When you say no to someone asking for help, you feel selfish and unkind.
You feel like you’re being a bad friend, a bad child, a bad colleague, or just a bad person for prioritizing yourself.
What’s sad is that it doesn’t even happen often…and yet, you feel sorry for choosing yourself.
You’ve probably been a people-pleaser all your life that it feels unnatural when you focus on your own happiness and wellbeing. You have to deal with these issues and learn to love yourself without guilt.
10) You feel that you’re a burden to others
This is something that you just feel constantly.
You’re not actually bothering anyone and no one is making you feel like you’re a burden, but somehow, you just strongly feel that you inconvenience others just by existing.
And so whenever you notice a slight change in someone’s mood, you ask “Hey, did I say something wrong?”
Or when your boss doesn’t seem appreciative of your work, you say “Sorry, I’ll try harder next time.”
Basically, you’re paranoid that other people don’t like you so you say “sorry” so quickly and so often.
You don’t even know if you’re at fault for anything, you just blurt out “sorry” because you feel it’s the right thing to do when things feel a little “off”.
Being able to say sorry quickly and genuinely is a trait that should be admired.
However, if you’re saying it too often and in situations where it’s totally unnecessary, it’s time to do a self-check.
It’s a sign that you have self-esteem issues.
By addressing them, you’ll slowly realize your worth. And as you slowly realize how awesome you are, you’ll notice that you’ll stop saying “sorry” unnecessarily.