Stop Apologizing And Say These Things Instead

Author Article

If you’re someone who knows the value of a good apology–not just for mending fences but also for strengthening relationships in every area of life–you’re way ahead of most people.

But if you apologize constantly for every little thing–whether or not it’s warranted–listen up. You may be standing in the way of your own success.

The habit of injecting the word “sorry” into every other sentence you utter might seem harmless on the surface. But it can undermine your authority and your confidence, portray you as weak and indecisive, and even damage your credibility.

Worst of all, over-apologizing can desensitize your listeners when you want to deliver a sincere and necessary apology. The more you say you’re sorry, the less power it has. Remember the boy who cried wolf? If everything rises to the need for an apology, then nothing does.

RECOGNIZING THE PROBLEM

Do these casual (and unnecessary) apologies sound familiar?

  • “Sorry, can you repeat that?”
  • “I’m sorry, but I disagree.”
  • “I have no available appointments this week. Sorry about that.”
  • “I’m sorry, but I have to let you go.”

Though often attributed to women, apologizing isn’t just a female problem. Psychologists tell us that people who compulsively apologize for small infractions may be manifesting anything from a nervous tic to a social disorder. Frequent apologizers may be insecure, introverted, or just overly self-conscious. They may have been raised in strict families or put a high value on getting along with everyone. Sometimes the habit is an unconscious reaction to stress or anxiety.

What makes some of us fall into this counterproductive habit? It might be performance anxiety, such as our first day on a new job, or when we lack confidence in our ability to run with the “big dogs.” It’s almost as if we’re apologizing for taking up space, which is no way to make a good impression on a job or with a client.

More often, though, over-apologizing is an unconscious habit that’s annoying at best, and at worst, sends one or more unwanted messages that can really work against us:

  • I’m not sincere.
  • I’m afraid of you.
  • I don’t trust you to give me what I want if I’m not super nice.
  • I don’t think I’m good enough to talk to you, ask for anything, or even be here.

DIAGNOSE YOURSELF

Ask yourself you’ve ever said you were sorry for any of the following:

  • Saying no
  • Winning
  • Asking for a raise you deserve
  • Getting angry about an injustice
  • Having an opinion
  • Feeling an emotion
  • Crying
  • Fainting
  • Throwing up
  • Being injured
  • Tending to your own needs

Did you answer yes to four or more of the above? Read on.

CONSEQUENCE OF TOO MUCH “SORRY”

If we don’t need to apologize for having an opinion, needing help, or just being human, then what are we trying to accomplish through this behavior?

Sometimes we apologize to deflect, in advance, a negative reaction to what we’re saying. It’s as if we’re trying to smooth ruffled feathers before the ruffling begins.

It’s true that an apology, especially a sincere and necessary one, can actually take the heat off. The over-apology habit may begin innocently when we spontaneously apologize for a real offense. Our opponent softens or even backs down, saying, “Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing.” BAM! A magic bullet, we conclude. But then, as the quick and insincere apology becomes our weaponry of choice, we become almost addicted to it. Serving as both sword and shield, the frequent apology appears to disarm our opponent while protecting us from further attack.

So how do you break the habit?

INSTEAD OF SAYING, I”M SORRY”

In all your communications, but especially on the job, be brief, specific, direct, and unapologetic. Simply state the problem and how you’ll fix it. And then shut up.

If you’re uncomfortable delegating scut work, try this: “We’re in a crunch, and all these files need to be cataloged by end of day. Do you have what you need to get started?”

If you’re constantly apologizing for what you can’t control, try this: “I know I’ve had to reschedule this meeting several times. Thank you for understanding.”

If someone mistreats you and you start to get emotional, try this: “Hey, that hurt,” or “That isn’t helpful.” You can even say, “I need a few minutes to collect myself,” and then leave the room.

Pro tip: You can leave any room under these circumstances. Even if you’ve just been fired. No apology necessary.

If something goes wrong on your watch, try this: “The project took longer than I expected. I’ll have it for you first thing tomorrow.” Then stop.

Helpful hint: If you missed a deadline because of your own poor time management, then you should apologize. But don’t offer an apology on behalf of a team member or a difficult client.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO SPOT WHEN YOU DO NEED TO APOLOGIZE

A guy I’ll call Roy worked in the accounting department of my organization. Roy seemed to enjoy jerking my chain by routinely withholding information and taking forever to provide numbers I needed to do my job.

The showdown came one day when I needed some of Roy’s data to complete a report that was due on my CEO’s desk the next day. Roy informed me I’d have to wait a week. I’d had enough. Through clenched teeth, I said, “I’d hate to have to tell the CEO that his proposal got stalled on your desk.” The next morning I still had no report from Roy. Instead I had a note from human resources.

Apparently, in HR speak, my remark amounted to a threat toward a subordinate, a huge workplace blunder. Implying Roy’s job might be in jeopardy if he didn’t cooperate was, well, harassment. The HR director strongly suggested an apology to Roy would help me avoid any “unintended consequences.”

Deeply humbled, I swallowed my pride and went to Roy’s cubicle. I apologized for misusing my position to pressure him, and I showed appreciation for the thankless job he did every day. “I know you have a lot of conflicting priorities, and I was just trying to muscle my way to the top of the pile,” I said. “I’m sorry I did that. It won’t happen again.”

I had Roy’s report that afternoon, and ever afterward he was pleasant and cooperative. That’s one of the magical things that can happen when you apologize appropriately. I call it the paradoxical superpower.

TRANSFORMING EMPATHY INTO STRENGTH

Before we toss the baby out with the bathwater, it’s important to recognize several positive character traits behind the habit of over-apologizing. For instance, it may arise in someone with strong empathy for others. Empathy–the ability to consider another’s point of view and understand the feelings she may be having–is rapidly becoming a critical soft skill. Someone who knows when and how to apologize appropriately has a huge advantage in the empathy column. A study by researchers at Harvard and Wharton business schools showed that certain apologies can even increase trust.

SO WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE OVER-APOLOGIZER WHO WANTS TO REFORM?

First, take comfort in the fact that you’re probably a good, considerate person who wants everyone to get along. You’re also likely to score highly on the empathy scale, a huge asset in business and life. What you don’t want is to appear to be afraid of the space you occupy, to be someone who lacks the courage of her convictions, or who doesn’t feel entitled to speak her mind.

Like any other bad habit, overcoming it takes practice. You’ll try avoiding the words “I’m sorry” for a while, stumble, and get back on track. Try taking a friend or trusted coworker into your confidence about what you’re trying to accomplish, and agree on a high sign she can give you if she hears you apologizing unnecessarily. Then reward yourself for the effort.

And keep at it. What you lose by giving up the emotional currency of frequent apologies, you will gain back in personal confidence and self-esteem. That’s something of real value. Bottom line: Don’t apologize unnecessarily–know how to recognize when a sincere apology is necessary.


This article originally appeared on Career Contessa and is reprinted with permission. 

How to Keep From Hitting Your Breaking Point

Author Article

Though life has not been easy, you’ve always found ways to keep moving forward. But now it all feels like too much, and you might even feel like you are coming apart. Maybe you encourage yourself to just push through–“No pain. No gain.” But it’s not working and you feel weak and like a failure. Many people get stuck in this dilemma, not seeing a solution. The reality is that there is a way out, but it’s counter-intuitive. To reach new heights, you must accept your limitations.

This may sound like accepting failure, but it’s not. If you are someone who likes to think you can do anything you put your mind to, you may be setting yourself up for feeling like a failure. We all have very real limitations that will cause pain and suffering when we deny them. Just try putting your head through a brick wall and you will smack into that very hard reality.

One area where many people deny their limitations is in taking on increasingly more tasks and responsibilities as though they can do anything and extend themselves limitlessly. But we all have the same number of hours each day to accomplish tasks– no matter how well we manage our time. We are all limited by how much we can realistically control in our lives. And, whether we like it or not, none of us can lay claim to an endless fund of knowledge and abilities. So, there are times when we undoubtedly benefit from accepting these limits.

This can be one of the most difficult “accomplishments” in your life. Yoga teacher David Swenson explains that doing yoga is most difficult when, for whatever reason (such as being injured or too tired), people choose to leave out parts of their practice. Noting how people are often self-critical when this happens, he says, “Much of our experience will be determined by how we choose to perceive the situation we are in.” And so it is with the rest of life.

When you repeatedly hit against a limitation, it won’t help and will certainly hurt – just as surely as it would if you keep trying to pound your head through a brick wall. At those times, it’s good to remind yourself, Doing that hurts! Stop it! Then, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, when you eliminate trying to do the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is a true path forward. And that path may include learning how to find a bridge from where you are to where you want to be.

For instance, Helen repeatedly attempted to get her partner to stop demeaning her, but her efforts seemed to have no effect and she was becoming increasingly unhappy. Finally, by accepting her limitation of not being able to make him change (no one can make others do anything), she was left with having to consider an alternative path. She thought about either trying couples therapy or just ending the relationship so she could open herself to a healthier one.

Sharon faced a similar moment of choice in the work arena. When her supervisor directed her to use information collected by their software to develop of marketing plan, she panicked. She was not sufficiently proficient in using their software to do this well, and she was terrified of being found out. But once she reasoned that she didn’t need to know the software better until this point, she could accept this limitation as simply a fact – not as proof of her incompetence. Then she knew what she had to do – either find someone to teach her the software or partner with someone who knew it well enough for this project.

In the end, it is your choice – be self-critical of your limitations or accept them as part of being human. When you stop trying to get out of a room by knocking your head through the wall, you may notice an open window, or even a door. If you don’t, you can at least recognize that hitting your head is not going to help. Who knows – maybe when you stop the self-abuse and drop to the floor in frustrated disappointment, your new perspective will reveal a trapdoor. Whatever your situation, not only can acknowledging your limitations provide clarity, but you may also save yourself from a terrible headache!

37 Sad Quotes That Will Get You Through the Worst Days

Author Article

BEN ROBERTS PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

Sadness—never, ever, something that we actively summon or wish to feel—manages to find its way to us every now and then. It’s a natural part of life. But sometimes it helps to know that others are going (or have been) through the same thing. Because that means that things will get better, start looking up. If you’re experiencing tough times or dealing with loss, this list of sad quotes will, oddly enough, provide some comfort and comradery. And if you’re on the verge of just needing a good cry, these emotional quotes will happily help release an onslaught of soul-cleansing tears. Some were penned by your favorite Southern authors; others were said by important historic figures. But all have one thing in common: They just get it. Keep reading for 37 sad quotes that’ll help you get through a bad day, crappy month, or terrible year. (And when you’ve come out on the other side, check out these funny love quotes that we can all relate to—it’ll lighten the mood.)

Sad Quotes about Life

“There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well.” –Nicholas Sparks

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.” –Margaret Mitchell

“You see, I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” –Mark Twain

“Things change. And friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody.” –Stephen Chbosky

“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” –Truman Capote

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.” –C.S. Lewis

“The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.” Eudora Welty

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” –J.D. Salinger

Sad Quotes about Death

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.” –E.A. Bucchianeri

“What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us wind up in parentheses.” –John Irving

“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.” –George Eliot

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” –Harriet Beecher Stowe

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” –J.K. Rowling

“It’s sad when someone you know becomes someone you knew.” –Henry Rollins

“There is a time for departure, even when there’s no certain place to go.” –Tennessee Williams

“You meet everyone twice in this life, when they come and when they go.” –C.C Aurel

“Grief is not as heavy as guilt, but it takes more away from you.” ­–Veronica Roth

“Death is a great revealer of what is in a man, and in its solemn shadow appear the naked lineaments of the soul.” –E.H. Chapin

“Death is the dropping of the flower that the fruit may swell.” –Henry Ward Beecher

Check out 115 Sympathy Messages for Friends and Family.

Sad Love Quotes

“You know, a heart can be broken, but it keeps on beating, just the same.” –Fannie Flagg

“It’s amazing how someone can break your heart, and you can still love them with all the little pieces.” –Ella Harper

“There is a distinct, awful pain that comes with loving someone more than they love you.” –Steve Maraboli

“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” –J.K. Rowling

“If you gave someone your heart and they died, did they take it with them? Did you spend the rest of forever with a hole inside you that couldn’t be filled?” –Jodi Picoult

“You make me feel like a firefly. Trapped in a belljar; starved for love.” –Ayushee Ghoshal

“You’re like a song that I heard when I was a little kid but forgot I knew until I heard it again.” –Maggie Stiefvater

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall, in misery, the time when we were happy.” –Dante Aligheri

Check out 120 Romantic Messages for Your Loved Ones.

Sad Sayings

“Sometimes you got to hurt something to help something. Sometimes you have to plow under one thing in order for something else to grow.” –Ernest J. Gaines

“Tears are words the mouth can’t say nor can the heart bear.” –Joshua Wisenbaker

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.'” –Kurt Vonnegut

“Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.” –Fannie Flagg

“To have felt too much is to end in feeling nothing.” –Dorothy Thompson

“One thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.” –John Lennon

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” –Zora Neale Hurston

“Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water.” –Christopher Morley

“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” –Leonardo da Vinci

10 Ways to Stay Mentally Strong When Your World Is Falling Apart

Author Article

At one time or another, you’re bound to face a crisis. Your loved one might be diagnosed with a terminal condition. Your marriage might come to an end. You may find yourself in a dire financial situation.

The list could go on and on. No matter who you are, how much you earn, how rock solid your life feels, crises are inevitable. But, the way you respond to these crises is optional.

Staying strong during a crisis is key to getting through tough times. Here’s how to stay mentally strong during a crisis:

1. Accept reality.

When faced with bad news, it’s easy to waste a lot of time thinking things like this can’t be happening or this shouldn’t be happening to me. But this isn’t the time to waste your vital resources worrying about fairness.

Accept the situation. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with what’s going on, but it does mean that you’re willing to acknowledge reality. Only then can you take positive action.

2. Don’t worry about building strength right now.

Trying to build mental strength in the midst of a crisis is like lifting weights right before you try to pick up a heavy box. It’s not the time to worry about strength building–it’s time to put the strength you already have into action.

3. Seek support.

Talk to your friends. Ask for help from a professional. Reach out to your loved ones. Whatever you do, make sure you that you ask questions, tell people what you need, and get the emotional support that could assist you.

4. Practice self-care.

As difficult as it may be to eat and sleep, it’s important to take care of your body when you’re in the midst of a crisis. Go for a few short walks when you can, make healthy eating choices a priority even when you’re pressed for time, and rest your body and your mind.

5. Ask yourself what advice you’d give to a friend.

Sometimes, a crisis requires you to make tough decisions. And when you’re feeling overwhelmed and really emotional, those tough choices may seem impossible to make–especially when you have to make them fast.

Whether you have to decide which medical procedure to try or you need to find a new place to live, ask yourself what advice you’d give to a trusted friend. That helps take a lot of the emotion out of the equation, which can be key to making the best choice possible (even when you feel as though you’re between a rock and a hard place).

6. Create a helpful mantra.

Develop an affirmation, like, “I’ve survived tough times before I will get through this too,” and repeat it to yourself as needed. It can help drown out the negative thoughts that are bound to swirl in your mind and it can keep you on track so you can move forward.

7. Prioritize what needs to get done.

When you’re in the middle of a crisis, you’re going to likely need to give some things up so you can focus your energy on the tasks-at-hand. Create a to-do list that will help you prioritize what needs to get done. And make sure to write things down as your memory is sure to fail at times when your stress level is high.

8. Find time to experience your emotions.

While you don’t want to suppress your emotions forever, there are also times you need to regulate your feelings so you can be productive. Crying in the doctor’s office  might get in the way of being able to ask the questions you need answers to. Similarly, allowing fear to take hold might prevent you from taking action.

At times, you may need to move forward quickly–with little time to really even think about how you’re feeling. That’s OK when you’re in an acute crisis. But just make sure you set aside some time later to let yourself experience painful feelings–it’s a crucial part of healing emotional wounds.

9. Take small steps.

A crisis can make you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to change, accomplish, or solve. Break down those big tasks into small steps.

 Whether you need to sort through a loved one’s belongings after they’ve passed away or you need to shed some serious weight to resolve a health crisis, identify something you can begin working on today.

10. Do something that helps you keep a sense of normalcy.

When you’re in the middle of a crisis you might feel like the entire world is upside down. Perhaps you spend all day every day sitting in the hospital at a loved one’s side. Or maybe you’re applying for jobs from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep.

Doing one thing that helps you feel “normal” might help you stay mentally stronger. Watch your favorite show before you fall asleep. Go for a walk in the morning like you always did before the crisis. Whatever it is, look for one shred of normalcy that you can continue even when life feels anything but normal.

Build Strength After the Crisis Is Over

Once the acute crisis is over, take time to unwind from the stress you endured. Whether that means planning a weekend hike in the mountains or it means scheduling an appointment with a therapist to help you move forward, take whatever steps necessary to help you grow from your experience

Empowerment, by definition, is “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” I can pair this definition so well to the change I’ve seen in myself over the last couple of years since leaving school. I can physically feel how much more confident I am, as…

via 5 things that empower me as a woman — LIFE STORIES FROM LINCOLN

What is Narcissistic Supply?

See Psych Central Article Here
By Sharie Stines, Psy.D

(Note: I am using pronouns he, his, him, for simplicity. Narcissism applies to both genders.)

Secure attachment in infancy creates a solid foundation for a person’s entire life.  It creates a feeling of “confidence and trust in the goodness of me, you, us” (Divecha, 2017). This secure attachment is created by the comingling of reflection, attunement, empathy, and love between mother (or other primary caregiver) and infant. It is created when the mother is present, consistent, kind, reassuring, and soothing. With secure attachment, a person learns to trust others and love others for the rest of his life.

Narcissists do not know how to “trust the goodness of me, you, and us.” Narcissists are all about protecting the self – at the expense of the other. Because of the narcissist’s inability to connect in a healthy way with another person, he uses a system of relating that is created in order for the narcissist to take care of himself. Instead of healthy connection, a narcissist seeks for “narcissistic supply.”

People with narcissism usually suffer with a form of early childhood attachment trauma (interpersonal abuse.) At some point in early childhood the narcissist was not properly attached to, or was insufficiently loved. Because of this, he learned how to survive in relationships using a sort of barter system, rather than relying on “normal” human connection skills (because these were not properly internalized in his psyche.)

Narcissistic supply is a form of payment given by others in order to be in a relationship with a narcissist. In essence, when a young child is not sufficiently attuned to or attached with, emotionally soothed and protected, he develops self-protective survival skills. These survival skills come in the form of emotional manipulation and alternate-personality development.

Realize that in essence, people with early attachment trauma, are developmentally delayed – particularly with respect to interpersonal relationships.

Have you ever noticed how your loved one demonstrates behaviors akin to a three year old having a temper tantrum?  This is probably because he was triggered by not getting his way somehow and then he emotionally regressed to an earlier stage of development (one which he has not completed the development phase of maturing through.)

In essence, a narcissist has not properly matured through each stage of early childhood development resulting in stunted emotional growth.

Narcissists are never satisfied.  Once they receive the narcissistic supply for the moment, they soon become empty again; it isn’t lasting. A narcissist’s emotional or “narcissistic supply” tank is always running low or on empty. It’s as if there are holes in the bottom of the narcissistic supply tank. No matter how much you try to love your narcissist well, it is never going to be enough.

What are some common forms of narcissistic supply?

  • Attention
  • Compliments/Praise
  • Accomplishments, such as winning
  • Feeling powerful (having power over you)
  • Feeling in control (being able to control you, and thus, his environment)
  • An addictive substance or activity
  • Sex
  • Emotional energy (can be positive or negative)

The list is not exhaustive and narcissistic supply can be as unique as the individuals involved.

What are some things the supplier of this narcissistic “food” can do to feed the narcissist?

  • Do whatever he wants
  • Lose your autonomy; yourself
  • Praise him/compliment him
  • Be a good “object”
  • Be compliant
  • Be controllable
  • Give up your power

How do narcissist’s obtain this supply from their “victims?” They use some primary tools; these are seduction, manipulation, anger and bullying behaviors.

Realize this truth:

“In a narcissistic encounter, there is, psychologically, only one person present. The co-narcissist disappears for both people, and only the narcissistic person’s experience is important” (Rappaport, 2005).

You can see how this quote applies to this concept of narcissistic supply. The entire purpose of the relationship is that everyone in it has one goal – to feed the narcissist. This form of psychological manipulation works, because when the narcissist is “fed” everyone involved is lulled in to a false, albeit brief, sense of security.

Narcissistic supply is any substitute form of temporary supplier of “satisfaction.”  Most likely, this “food” is in the real form of the neurotransmitter dopamine – the “feel good” brain chemical.

What the narcissist really needs and has needed all along is true human connection. But, since the want of that is a serious threat to the narcissist’s psyche, he has learned to accept narcissistic supply as his source of sustenance.

 

(If you would like to receive a free copy each month of my newsletter, the psychology of abuse, please send me your email address and I will add you to my subscription list:  therecoveryexpert@gmail.com)

References:

Childress, C. A. (2016.) The Narcissistic Parent: A Guidebook for Legal Professionals Working with Families in High-Conflict Divorce. Claremont, CA: Oaksong Press.

Divecha, D. (2017). How to Cultivate a Secure Attachment with Your Child. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_cultivate_a_secure_attachment_with_your_child

Rappoport, A. (2005). Co-narcissism: How we accommodate to narcissist parents. The Therapist. 16(2).36-38.