Rethinking Apologies: Why We Do It + When We Shouldn’t

We hear them every day. Two words — I’m sorry. They’ve become so natural, they just slip out sometimes without a real reason behind them. They’ve become an automatic response + in many instances, we apologize for things we don’t need to. We wanted to learn why + how we can limit how much we apologize.


Growing up we learned that the societal rule when you do something wrong, is to say “I’m sorry.” Apologizing has many benefits like encouraging forgiveness, showing empathy, repairing relationships + more. However, those two simple words can easily carry a new meaning when said too often.

There is a plethora of research regarding apologizing + a lot of people have different stances — it’s beneficial, refusing to is a power move, etc. Most of the research is decisive in one thing, over-apologizing can be negative. So why do we do it?

The need to apologize can stem from many different things. Two articles, from NBC + Psychology Today, found women may over-apologize if they possess an incessant feeling to please everyone, a fear or anxiety toward being viewed unfavorably by others, or nerves toward possibly offending others. Generally, frequently saying sorry isn’t detrimental to your day-to-day life, but it can have a professional impact.

In an article published by Muse, Angeline Evans discusses how constantly apologizing at work can be harmful professionally. She claims, “apologizing unnecessarily can actually undercut your professionalism by introducing doubt and diminishing others’ confidence in you.” At work, one of the last things we want to do is make people doubt our abilities + lose confidence in us. So it’s important to know when it’s appropriate + not appropriate to say sorry.

Unfortunately, breaking a habit isn’t easy, especially one you developed when you were young. But don’t fear, we have you covered with a few ways to limit how much you apologize!


Two months ago, I encountered this awesome article + it completely changed my perspective toward apologies. Saying I’m sorry expresses regret for an action but saying thank you can completely change the game. When we say thank you, we express gratitude + appreciation for actions taken by others. This replacement swaps feelings of guilt + doubt for empowerment [which you know we love]!

Here are a few examples of how to do this —

  • If you feel you have dominated a conversation, instead of apologizing say “thank you
    for listening.”
  • If you run late to a meetup with a friend, say “thank you for waiting.”

It may seem like a small change, but it makes a big difference. We highly recommend trying it out + hopefully you love it as much as we do : )

Additionally, we can practice mindfulness when it comes to the things we apologize for. Not everything warrants an apology.

5 things we should stop saying I’m sorry for

1] Things out of our control. If your friend is having a bad day or someone bumps into you, you didn’t cause it, so you shouldn’t take blame for it. Instead, express sympathy by saying “I feel for you.” If you were bumped into, accept the other person’s apology because you weren’t in the wrong.

2] Being ourselves. We are all different. Some of us are louder, quirkier, more emotional, etc. than others. It’s a simple fact + you shouldn’t apologize for it. No one should make you feel like you need to say sorry for being yourself.

3] Asking questions. There’s no need to start a question with I’m sorry. If you need clarification or find yourself confused about a topic, there’s no shame in asking for help.

4] Our appearance. Every day is different. Sometimes we put a lot of effort into our outward appearance + other days we don’t ++ that’s okay! If you didn’t have time to put makeup on, there’s no need to say, “Sorry I look like a mess.” Negative self-talk isn’t beneficial + you should love yourself in all forms, makeup or no makeup.

5] Existing. Because we exist, we take up space. Undoubtedly in your life, you will get in people’s way, need to squeeze through a crowd of people, + encounter others. You don’t have to apologize for taking up space. I’m sorry can be replaced with excuse me or simply moving out of the way. We’ve all opened a door to a restroom while someone is trying to leave + immediately said sorry. It’s just not necessary. You shouldn’t apologize for occupying space in this world.

We hope this gave you some new insight into those two little words + potentially altered your perspective on the things you apologize for. If you’re up for a challenge, try switching I’m sorry for thank you + let us know what you think on your #inCHAARG Insta!

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