Whether they have personally noticed or not, people with poor mental health tend to throw the word “sorry” around like confetti at a wedding. I even had a client with BPD who told me that he kept saying “sorry” to his own wife whenever he used the last of the milk, the last bit of toilet paper or the last of anything. He would even say sorry to his wife if he entered the house first! He told me that it had got so bad that the word itself felt empty. Today we talk about why this happens, so if you can relate to using the word ‘sorry’ more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ you will want to read on…
You might think there is nothing really wrong with over-apologising all the time, but it really is a problem especially when most of the time you have done little to nothing wrong to warrant saying it. Sadly it comes from having low self-esteem or with BPD it will often come from the symptom of ‘Fear of Abandonment‘ as you try to people-please all the time because you think that is what they want. The problems only really occur when you have said the word so many times it dilutes the word to the point that it is pretty much meaningless.
I read an interesting poll the other day that suggested that there are approximately 15 British “sorries” for every 10 American ones. Most people know that British people are politer than many other countries, but I could only imagine how hard it would be for a British person with low self-esteem. They must use the word “sorry” like it was a machine gun! When it comes to BPD the reason many people report over-apologising is because they are often seeking approval and validation from others, but by over-apologising too much people will often end up thinking less of you causing the opposite to happen.
Know what you should (and shouldn’t) apologize for will be the key to gaining more control over this word and indeed your life as a whole. Try to be more self-aware and maybe learn to say “I’m not sorry” when you really feel strong enough to do so. It might seem scary at first that an apology isn’t needed, but there are indeed times when you really have to stand strong. The more times to achieve this small feat the more control you will have over your life as a whole.
This Weeks Homework: The best way to tackle this situation is to try and gain control of the word again. Yes, you should be apologising when the situation needs it and it is the correct course of action to take, but not 50 times a day over pretty much nothing. The easiest way to do this is to take each day as it comes and try and find new ways of saying the same thing. So for this week’s homework instead of the word sorry try saying “excuse me” or “Can I?”. Try to go just a single day without using the word “sorry” just once. Then, if you fail just try again the next day. While you will find this rather difficult at first DPT is all about reprogramming the mind to make yourself stronger, so if you can do this for just 24 hrs you can officially consider yourself on the road to a better version of yourself.