• Marie Winefield

Do you have a 'sorry' compulsion?

How often do you say sorry when it’s not your fault? Maybe when someone walks towards you and you have to get out of the way? Or when making a reasonable request in a restaurant? Or maybe when you drop something?

Saying sorry is obviously an important social convention and has its place.

But it can also be a bit of a compulsion.

Saying sorry is taking responsibility for something that has gone wrong in a situation. Owning the blame.

It’s also sending the message that the other person is more important than you are. That they have more right to that parking space, or piece of pavement, or for their voice to be heard.

If you have a sorry compulsion, it may be a pattern that has developed over the years.

Perhaps growing up you had strict caregivers and there were consequences when you got things wrong.

Or you care deeply about keeping the peace and avoiding conflict.

Or you are worried about upsetting or hurting other’s feelings.

If any of this resonates, it’s worth tuning in and starting to notice how many times you apologise throughout the day. It may surprise you.

And by having this awareness will enable you to reduce your sorry compulsion by trying the following…

Get to know the triggers – by noting down the key situations you tend to apologise for.

Pause before you say it – the more you notice the more natural this will become.

Tune into the feeling – You may be feeling a mix of emotions. Maybe fear or embarrassment or anxiety. It may be a familiar feeling from your childhood.

Sit with the feeling – which may be uncomfortable to start with but try and stay with it and it will dissipate.

Change the dialogue – what can you say instead? Maybe ‘excuse me?’ Or maybe you don’t need to say anything.

Taking less responsibility for things that you have no control over and are not your fault will help you feel lighter and more empowered, but it takes practice.

And in turn this will lead to you living a happier, more fulfilling life.

So how many times have you said sorry today?

Warmest wishes

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Marie is a BACP qualified counsellor and psychotherapist whose mission is to help you live a happier, more fulfilled life. If you would like to learn more, or are wondering if therapy is the right choice for you, please get in touch for a free 30 minute free telephone consultation.