Understanding The Psychology Of Over Apologising

young woman gesturing with clasped hands, please forgive me

Understanding the psychology of over apologising  is critical to understanding how it affects your relationships and how to address it.

Unfortunately, for some people, apologising becomes more than just a means of making amends following an action or a mistake. Do you recognise yourself? If you do, saying sorry for everything has become a habit, which can be harmful to your relationships and mental health. 

In this post, I discuss how apologising can be beneficial and how it can be harmful when taken too far. 

The Benefits of Apologising

Apologising can be beneficial in a variety of ways, both socially and psychologically. It can help to build trust and confidence in relationships, as well as provide you with a sense of relief and closure. To understand the psychology of over apologising, it is necessary to first consider the potential benefits of apologising.

Apologising may be seen as a sign of respect and a gesture of goodwill, especially in social and professional settings. Even when you apologise for something that was not your fault, you are still showing that you care about the other person and regret that they were put in an uncomfortable situation. This can help build positive connections with people, which can be beneficial in terms of developing trust, respect, and your social connections.

Aside from the social benefits of apologising, there are also psychological advantages. Saying sorry can help you process and validate uncomfortable thoughts and feelings like guilt, shame, and regret. It can also aid in the healing of damaged relationships and the restoration of broken trust. Apologising can also provide closure, allowing people to move on from a difficult situation.

Furthermore, studies have shown that apologising can improve your mental health. It can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, as well as feelings of depression. Also, apologising can promote self-compassion, which can help you feel more empowered and confident in your ability to handle difficult interpersonal situations.

Being able to apologise can lead to more meaningful and authentic relationships. It can help you learn how to express yourself in a more healthy and constructive way, which can create a more supportive environment for both parties involved.

The Dangers of Over Apologising

Let us now discuss the dangers of over apologising. Too much apologising can lead to a pattern of behaviour that is harmful to your relationships and well-being. It’s critical to understand the dangers of developing an apology habit. 

To begin with, excessive apologising may make you appear weaker and less confident. This can make asserting your needs and communicating effectively more difficult. This can result in you not getting your needs met in relationships and feeling powerless or exploited. You may also be perceived as eager to please and submissive.

Excessive apologising can also breed resentment. You may begin to feel undervalued and unappreciated if you are constantly apologising for things that are not your fault. This can make you feel resentful and negative towards the people to whom you apologise.

Too much apologising can also indicate a lack of self-esteem and self-worth. You may apologise excessively if you believe you are unworthy of respect. This type of thinking can be harmful to your relationships because it can lead to feelings of low self-worth and insecurity.

Sayin sorry too much may indicate an unhealthy need for validation and acceptance in order to gain approval from others. This can lead to an unhealthy reliance on external approval and make establishing healthy boundaries in relationships difficult.

Understanding The Psychology Of Over Apologising: Understand The Causes

Saying sorry too much is a psychological pattern that may have its roots in unexpected areas. It is thus important to understand and address the causes behind this behaviour in order to break the apology habit and prevent the associated risks.

Childhood Influences

One of the most common causes of over apologising is the presence of early childhood influences that shape your  behaviour and mindset. These influences could come from family members, friends, or teachers. For example, if you grew up in an environment where your parents apologised excessively or made you feel guilty for mistakes, it can lead to you adopting the same behaviour.

Children who are punished severely or ridiculed for making small mistakes may develop a fear of disappointing people and start to over apologise as a way of avoiding this. Similarly, children who grow up in environments where they are not allowed to express their feelings or thoughts may feel like they have to apologise for speaking up, leading to them apologising excessively as adults.

 Also, if a child is raised in an environment where they are told to apologise for their actions or words in order to avoid conflict or punishment, they may internalise this message and carry it into adulthood. As a result, they may find themselves apologising for situations and actions that do not warrant an apology.

Cultural Influences

Culture can also be a contributing factor to the apology habit. Different cultures have different attitudes towards apologies. In some cultures, apologising is seen as a sign of weakness or a loss of face, while in others, it is considered essential for maintaining social harmony and showing respect. For example, in Asian cultures, apologising is considered a way of expressing respect and deference to others, while in Western cultures, it is seen as an admission of guilt or responsibility.


Cultural differences can also affect how apologies are phrased and perceived. In some cultures, apologies are expected to be more elaborate and include expressions of remorse and regret, while in others, a simple “I’m sorry” is sufficient. Similarly, some cultures place more emphasis on the act of apologising itself, while in others, the sincerity and intent behind the apology are more important.


Cultural influences can thus shape how you view and practice apologies, and understanding these differences can help bridge communication and cultural barriers.  Depending on the culture or societal norms, people may be taught to see apologising as a sign of respect or politeness. This can lead people to feel the need to apologise in a wide variety of situations, even if it is not necessary.

Fear of Conflict

Another possible cause of over apologising is fear of conflict. People may apologise to try and avoid difficult conversations or confrontations, even when they have done nothing wrong. This is especially true in cases where someone may fear being judged or criticised for their actions.

Interpersonal Anxiety

Interpersonal anxiety can also lead to the apology habit.  Many people with interpersonal anxiety struggle with speaking up for themselves and asserting their needs and boundaries. They may fear conflict or rejection, and therefore apologise excessively to avoid any potential negative reactions from others. This can lead to a pattern of automatically apologising for everything, even things that are completely out of your control.

For example, someone with interpersonal anxiety may apologise for taking too long to respond to a text message, or for canceling plans due to unforeseen circumstances. They may even apologise for expressing their own opinions or feelings if they think it could upset someone else.


While apologising can be a necessary and helpful social tool, excessive apologies can actually undermine your credibility and make you appear less confident. You may apologise in uncomfortable situations in order to reduce your anxiety or make it easier to move on. This can lead to you apologising for things that are out of your control or for things that don’t require an apology.

If you experience interpersonal anxiety is is important to work on building your assertiveness skills and recognising when apologising is unnecessary or unhelpful. This can involve setting clear boundaries, practicing self-compassion, and challenging negative beliefs about yourself and others. 

Addressing the Apology Habit

To address the issue of over-apologising, you must become aware of your apology patterns and habits. Conscious awareness of why and how frequently you say sorry can be a good place to start. You can gain clarity about your own apology habits by asking yourself questions like “how often do I apologise for things that are beyond my control?” or “am I apologising for things that I shouldn’t be apologising for?”

The next step is to improve your ability to talk to people and stand up for yourself. Part of this may be learning how to talk about feelings and needs without getting into a fight and realising how important it is to speak up for yourself. It can also help to get used to asking for help without apologising or feeling bad about it.

Aside from practical communication skills, mindset techniques can be used to break the habit of over-apologising. Reframing negative thoughts about yourself is one effective strategy. Individuals frequently experience feelings of guilt or shame, which leads to excessive apologies. You can reduce the need to apologise by challenging and reframing these negative thoughts.

For example, if you find yourself blaming yourself for every mistake, remind yourself that mistakes are a normal part of learning and growing. Be gentle with yourself and adopt a more compassionate and realistic outlook.

Learning how to let go of poor boundaries is another useful technique. Over apologising is frequently motivated by a desire to please others or a fear of disappointing them. It is critical to set personal boundaries and prioritise self-care. Saying “no” when necessary is not something to be ashamed of because it shows self-respect and ensures personal well-being. 

You can also try to use humour as a way to break the pattern. Instead of offering a traditional apology, inject a lighthearted comment or a playful remark that diffuses the situation. For example, you could say, “I apologise for my excessive apologising. It’s a bad habit I’m working on, but I promise to keep the apologies to a minimum today!” By using humour, you not only acknowledge the tendency to say sorry too much but also create a lighter atmosphere that encourages others to respond in a more relaxed manner. It can help bring awareness to your behaviour and remind you to approach situations with a lighter touch.

Breaking the habit of apologising takes time and effort. It is critical to be kind to yourself throughout the process, acknowledging that change takes time and effort. Remember that you have the ability to change your mindset and create healthier communication patterns.

Conclusion

Understanding the psychology of over apologising  is an important subject to understand, as it can have a significant impact on your interactions with others and your own self-image. It is thus important to be mindful of your own apology habits and how your culture, upbringing, and fear of conflict can influence your patterns.

At the same time, there are clear social and psychological benefits to apologising when appropriate. Apologising can help build trust and confidence and serve as an important form of communication in resolving conflicts.

You need to find the right balance when it comes to over apologising.

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