I Stopped Saying Sorry For A Week And This Is What Happened

Sorry, not sorry.

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I’m sorry to say it, but I say sorry a lot. I say sorry when I’m one minute late to work, when someone steps on the back of my shoe (yes, really) and when I suspect I’m right but just want an argument to be over. Heck, I’ve even been known to apologise to inanimate objects when I bump into them! For ages, I just thought I was being ‘nice’ and doing what I was ‘supposed’ to be doing. Ugh, never a good reason to do something.

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Then, I read a life-changing book: fittingly titled The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F***. The parody of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up is all about spending your time and energy on the things that really matter. In the book, the author Sarah Knight talks about the NotSorry method. It has only two steps:

  1. Deciding what you don’t give a f*** about
  2. Not giving a f*** about those things

I was blown away by the simplicity of this mindset. It made me realise that in constantly apologising for anything and everything, I was inadvertently wasting all my f*** on things that don’t matter. Unsurprisingly, research shows that this type of compulsive over-apologising is more common in women that it is in men. Thanks to years of social conditioning, we’re far more likely to take the blame – even for things that aren’t actually our fault.

The problem with dropping the ‘soz’ bomb like it’s going out of style is that it eventually starts to lose its meaning. Not only that, but excessive apologising can actually sabotage your relationships and career progression. According to psychologists, it can make you come across as insincere, guilty or insecure. So, with this in mind, I decided to stop apologising for a week. Here’s what happened.

What I learned from the ‘sorry, not sorry’ challenge

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I have to admit that like my ‘buy nothing new’ month, this was a bit of a fail. While I definitely apologised less than usual (for this reason, a trivial fight with my boyfriend about a light switch went on for way longer than it needed to) I still slipped up a lot. But much like that ill-fated money challenge,, it gave me some interesting insights into why I apologise all the time. I realised that 99% of the time “sorry” just slipped out as an immediate reflex and that TBH, I didn’t actually mean it. Here are some examples of ridiculous things I apologised about over the course of a week:

  • Putting my boyfriend’s drink bottle away after unpacking it from the dishwasher, meaning he couldn’t find it to take to work the next morning
  • Sneezing
  • When somebody else bumped into me
  • The weather
  • Accidentally paying for the groceries when my boyfriend was meant to be buying them

You get the idea. But for the other 1% of the time, I was apologising for things that actually warranted an apology – like re-scheduling on someone for the third time. In these situations, I sincerely meant it when I said sorry and I would have expected the same in return. So, rather than setting myself the same week-long challenge, I’m proposing another one with no end date. There are three times I’m allowing myself to utter the words “I’m sorry.” Those are when I’ve actually done something wrong, when I’m offering my condolences and when it’s to end a fight with my S.O (because sometimes, you’ve got to pick your battles!) That way, I’m not handing out apologies left, right and centre and instead, am saving them for the things that really matter.