Do you apologize too much? This headline in The Onion made me laugh out loud-- but only because it's too true. There's such being considerate, and then there's apologizing for existing. I haven't started an overapologizers-anonymous group, but I think there might be a place for it.
I had a client who was an over-apologizer. She was the child of an alcoholic-who-raged, and she had successfully headed off rage attacks (sometimes) with a preemptive apology and "making herself small." The problem was, once she hit adulthood, she still felt small. She still felt responsible for everything, and guilty for having any needs. "I'm sorry" had morphed from the actual meaning ( "I apologize") into sounding like she was saying "I'm a sorry human being." I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry...apologizing constantly was keeping people at a distance, and frankly, annoying her friends-- but they didn't want to discuss it lest she fall apart (or worse-- apologize).
While we discussed some of the deeper underlying issues reflected in her constant stream of apologies, we also just practiced not saying the words "I'm Sorry" for a day at a time. The word "sorry" had become like the word "smurf" in the cartoon, peppering almost every sentence emitted from her mouth.
-It was full-on detox, folks. Squirming, sweating, muscles moving in the shape of "I'm sorry" with no sound emitting from her throat. Gritting teeth, digging in heels, using replacement words ("Oops!" was a favorite). She slowly began to feel less apologetic just for taking up space and air in the room, then she even began to have a real voice, and eventually was able to discern what she really was sorry for, and what she very much did not need to apologize for at all. I even caught her saying "sorry" with a sarcastic/humorous tone one day, and laughed because it was so uncharacteristically sassy. (Even as I write this, I'm thinking of my next over-apologizer intervention: every time they want to say "I'm sorry", they have to say "I'm sassy." Want to try it?)
Over-apologizing isn't just a silly habit-- it actually can impact us pretty deeply, becoming a steady drumbeat of our percieved unworthiness. Stop over-apologizing. If you don't, you'll be sorry.