• Kay Johnston

What are You Sorry For?

During my workshops, coaching sessions or one to one counselling, I find people apologising for not being ok.

Why is it that we say “sorry” when we are feeling down, sad, frustrated or mad about something that has had a big impact on us?

At work we start emails with “… sorry to bother you”, and phone calls with “… I’m sorry for ringing.” Why do we feel we have to apologise?

There are even names for it, “The Sorry Syndrome” and “Over Apologising Disorder”.

Why should we feel we have to apologise? Most people do it automatically, when they have finished telling their story, “…sorry for going on”, or “…sorry for moaning.”

Do we say “sorry” because we are so used to people not taking the time to really listen to us? Do we feel we’re being selfish stealing their time, when we are offloading our worries? Are we so used to people having their own agenda and not giving us the space and time that we need, when we need it?

Do we say sorry because we have been conditioned to apologise from a young age? Were you encouraged as a child to have an opinion, speak up and have your say? Were you brought up to be polite towards others? Were you listened to?

Feeling sad, frustrated, angry, or tired is normal and yet we somehow feel guilty if we express ourselves about feeling this way. There are very few people who we can be genuinely ourselves with all the time. Ask yourself how many people really see the true you?

We go out to work, putting our happy, professional “can do” mask on, even when we are feeling dreadful. How often do you hear the phrase about not taking your problems to work? Is this possible? Is this useful? Or are we just kidding ourselves?

We meet friends and put on a brave face when our lives are in turmoil. Talk about utter rubbish whilst trying to portray the happy go lucky person they have all come to know.

Where have we learnt this compulsion for not letting others know how we are really feeling. Why is it that we find ourselves saying “sorry”? Most of the time things that have happened to us, are due to circumstances out of our control.

Life contains so much randomness; we cannot begin to predict or plan for what will happen to us. However, when something doesn’t go to plan we find ourselves apologising even though it wasn’t our fault.

Think about it, next time you say sorry when you haven’t done anything wrong – ask yourself why you are apologising?

Ask yourself what is it about? What was it in that circumstance or experience that has made you use the word sorry?

Keep a tally on how many times you use it.

And then think about what an alternative response could be.

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