Personal Growth

Sorry Syndrome?! How to Conquer It Right Now

Sorry Syndrome is the new buzzword you need to know about. If someone has ever told you “Stop apologizing!”, chances are you are part of the lucky few who over apologize.

Yup, that’s a thing!

This new term, which has been making its rounds on the Internet, is taking the world by storm. Why? Because we now know that saying sorry too much is a bad thing!

Use this post as a handy-dandy guide to over apologizing and conquering your sorry syndrome!

This post contains:

  1. Why you tend to over apologize
  2. Why you shouldn’t say sorry too much
  3. The anatomy of a healthy apology
  4. How to stop your sorry syndrome
  5. How to respond to someone over apologizing (yes, you’ve probably been there too!)
How to Conquer Sorry Syndrome

Why You Always Over Apologize

This might make you feel better, but people say sorry too much for many different reasons. Not sure which group you’re in? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

You Have Self Esteem Issues

Don’t be embarrassed! You might not even realize that you have sorry syndrome because of your lower self esteem.

A lot of people have had to deal with traumatic life events that have caused their self-esteem to plummet. Here are a few examples of events that affect your confidence:

  • An abusive relationship
  • Being bullied
  • Having your body or achievements constantly critiqued by someone close to you (for example, by a parent)

The logic behind this is that going through serious events make you sensitive to criticism. Who can blame you, when you’ve been criticized that severely? Every single wrongdoing that people point out is a serious offence in your mind, whether you realize it or not.

If none of those bullet point sound like something you’ve been through, you might just be a bit critical of yourself naturally.

RELATED: Here’s Why You’re a People Pleaser

Either way, if you struggle with confidence and your views on yourself, you might find yourself apologizing too much.

You’re a Girl

I’m serious! Girls are raised to be kind and avoid causing problems, so we apologize for things we might not need to apologize for. To put it bluntly, girls say sorry to be polite.

Women are the first to apologize for anything. Don’t believe me? If you are a woman, check to see if you’ve apologized for the following things:

  • Someone bumping into you in public
  • Rejecting someone politely
  • Telling someone that they have the wrong answer
  • For speaking up in a meeting or in class (“Sorry but I think this is a good idea”)

Don’t feel bad for doing these things! We are literally trained to do this since childhood. That’s a huge factor for your sorry syndrome in adulthood.

You’re a People Pleaser

You’re a ray of sunshine! You love it when people give you compliments and you make people happy. But what if they’re mad at you? Oh boy, that’s a different story.

People pleasers thrive in a happy situation, and hate conflict. Any little conflict, including someone pointing something wrong out, is seen as being REALLY BAD in your eyes.

To compensate, you over apologize. When someone says you’ve done something wrong, you want to re-establish that happy environment. So, you try to apologize a bunch of times to make it better!

Why You Shouldn’t Over Apologize

There is a limit to how often you can say sorry without it having negative effects on you and the people around you. That’s why they call it “Sorry Syndrome“. Over apologizing is really bad!

Here are a few reasons you need to consider toning down your apologies.

People Will Get Annoyed With Over Apologizing

I remember being 16 and crying at work because a customer screamed in my face. I kept apologizing to my boss because I couldn’t calm myself down! She told me to stop apologizing, to which I replied “Sorry”.

While she laughed at my response, others won’t be so kind. Even the sweetest people will start to get annoyed when you can’t stop yourself from saying sorry.


Because you’re not accepting their forgiveness.

In their mind, the issue is resolved. In your mind, it isn’t and you need to keep apologizing to convince your brain that it’s over.

People get tired of repeating themselves. What happens next?

  1. You apologize for the 37th time.
  2. Your friend starts to look annoyed and says “You don’t have to apologize again, I forgive you!”
  3. You apologize for bringing it up or saying sorry again.
  4. Your friend gets even more annoyed and says that she’s annoyed.
  5. You start spiralling because now you’ve annoyed them even more.
The Cycle of Saying Sorry too Much

It is a vicious cycle, my friend!

You’re an Easy Target for Abuse if You Suffer From Sorry Syndrome

I’m sorry to say this, but manipulative people love to seek out people who are unsure of themselves and aim to please. Since you’re part of this category of people, you’re more likely to attract abusive people in your life.

When you display your “sorry syndrome” in public, toxic people will flock to you. The reason for this is that toxic people love people who can’t set boundaries. You don’t have any clear boundaries on when you’ll stop apologizing and what you apologize for, and they love that!

I’m definitely not condoning abuse and people treating you poorly AT ALL. No one deserves to deal with a toxic person, but you can avoid them by easing up on apologizing so much.

Meaningful Apologies Aren’t As Obvious

Let’s say, you messed up something important. The natural thing to do is apologize! However, when you have the habit of always saying sorry, some people might not believe you when you say it!

Saying sorry is a valuable gift. The word “sorry” is loaded with meaning because it allows another person to forgive you and for you to strengthen that bond with that person.

If you apologize too much, the word means nothing anymore!

This is What a Good Apology Looks Like

To understand what a good apology looks like, we first have to know what a bad apology looks like. You’ve heard a lot of those in your life, but here’s a comprehensive list of things that should never be included in an apology:

  • The word “but”
  • An excuse, especially a lame one
  • An exasperated sigh and/or an eye roll
  • Any kind of tone that shows that their apology is not serious

That seems pretty simple, but let’s look at what a normal apology should be like:

  1. Acknowledge what you did wrong.
  2. Explain your behaviour and your reasoning behind it. Be aware not to make excuses, only to be real about what happened.
  3. Express that you’re aware that your actions hurt the person and say that you’re remorseful.
  4. Tell them that you won’t do it again. Better yet, tell them what you’ll do instead.
How to Apologize the Right Way

Here’s an example in action of a good apology:

“I’m sorry that I left your birthday party early without saying goodbye. I saw that you were busy and didn’t want to bother you, so I just left. I feel so bad that I hurt you! Next time, I’ll always come by and say goodbye.”

This kind of apology isn’t drawn out and gets to the point without being too short.

In a normal apology, the person apologizing is being vulnerable. They admit their wrongdoing and their shame. This gives the power to the person who has been wronged to forgive them!

This formula is really useful when you can’t seem to end your apologies!

How to Stop Your Sorry Syndrome

Breaking your habit of over apologizing can be tricky at first, but with lots of practice and self awareness, you’ll be able to kick sorry syndrome to the curb in no time!

The following tips and tricks are proven ways to train your brain to be mindful of when to stop apologizing:

Fix Your Self-Esteem Issues

Easier said than done, but making attempts to improve your self-esteem will make over apologizing rarer in your life.

I struggled with my self-esteem for a long time, and my doctor advised me to work through this self-esteem workbook by the Centre for Clinical Interventions. I can’t recommend it enough!

When your self-esteem issues are being addressed, you will feel like you’re enough and that any criticism is not necessarily personal.

RELATED: Fix Your Insecurities Fast With These 17 Tips

Move On From The Past

Your past shapes who you are as a person and how you respond to things in the present. By acknowledging events from your past, you’re able to move on, and stop over apologizing! Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Talk through them with a licensed mental health professional (which is always the best option)
  • Write a letter to your past self telling them about what you want them to know
  • Cut contact with toxic people that might affect your progress

You can do this!

Start Saying “Thank You” Instead of Over Apologizing

If you’re like most people, saying sorry seems almost like a reflex sometimes!

What you can say, instead of using any apology, is “thank you”. That, or you can use any other word that doesn’t make you seem small or remorseful for something that isn’t your fault. Here are a few examples:

  • Thank you Carla, I didn’t notice my paper had an error in it!”
  • Okay Simon, I’ll get on that project right away.”
  • Oops, I totally forgot about that! I’ll finish it up for you”
What to Say Instead of "I'm Sorry" and Conquer your Sorry Syndrome

These words have a common theme of acknowledging the person, but not apologizing. The main goal is to use apologies only if we’ve done something very wrong and hurtful.

Stop Being Sensitive to Other People’s Emotions

If you have a tendency to apologize over and over again, chances are you’re really in tune with other people’s emotions. While that can be a good thing, in this case we need to tone it down.

So, how do you do this?

Be mindful of what’s happening in your brain. If you are panicking or worried that the person you’re apologizing to is mad, look at their facial cues. Do they look mad? Is their tone of voice angry?

What is the person trying to say? What is the intention of the person who has the ability to forgive you? You should only apologize if you did something wrong. They’re not mad at you, they’re not happy with something you did.

How to Respond to Someone Over Apologizing

Yes, it might be really annoying to have someone keep saying sorry after you’ve told them they’re forgiven! However, that’s not what it sounds like in their mind.

Here’s how to gently guide your sorry syndrome peeps into not apologizing anymore:

Be Like A Patient Schoolteacher and Be Understanding

People who apologize too much are uber-sensitive. Any change in the tone of your voice or your facial expressions can make them doubt that you’re actually forgiving them.

Expressing how annoyed you are can make things even worse!

What you need to do to stop this vicious cycle is to channel your inner kindergarten teacher. Put yourself into their shoes, and be direct in explaining that they’re forgiven! It might take a bit of time, but as long as you’re open about your emotions, they should drop it pretty quickly.

(Also, thank you for sticking by them, especially if it’s annoying!)

A Final Word on Sorry Syndrome

This article was inspired by my own struggles with over apologizing. It is definitely still a work in progress, but implementing these tips into my own life is making it easier for me to know when to stop bending over backwards for people’s forgiveness.

I had this discussion with my boyfriend, and he said probably the best thing that everyone needs to hear:

“When I’m upset over something you did, I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at something you did.”

It sounds really simple, but if we can realize that these negative feelings aren’t a personal attack, a lot of us can get past this pesky sorry syndrome.

TELL ME: Are you bad at saying sorry too much? Let me know in the comments.

Peace out!

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