Why Saying Sorry Isn't Enough
There is undoubtedly nothing more British than apologising for something you didn’t do. Someone bumps into you on the street? “Oh, I’m sorry”. Someone stands on your foot? “Oh, I’m sorry”. Someone stabs you in the back? “Oh, I’m so sorry!”. We just can’t help it, it’s inbuilt, our intrinsic instinct to apologise for every little thing is what makes us the way we are. We apologise for far too much, and it’s not even in a smart and funny way like sending a funny sorry card, it’s always a wet, spineless, half-hearted mutter under our breath, and it’s finally gone too far.
According to the BBC, a recent survey of more than 1,000 Brits found that the average person utters the word “sorry” or apologises around eight times a day, and one in eight people apologise up to 20 times a day. In fact, social anthropologist Kate Fox wrote a book called Watching the English where she experimented by bumping into hundreds of people in towns across England and found that around 80% of English people said “sorry”, even though it clearly wasn’t their fault. No other country compared to England for our ‘sorry reflex’, except for maybe Japan. What the fuck is that all about?
Apologising, for the most part, makes us appear weak, relinquishes all of our power and ultimately, makes us look like idiots. Especially when the thing we are apologising for isn’t even our fault. Think of all the emails, phone calls and text messages you have sent over the years, apologising for some inane thing that you didn’t even do! “Sorry for the weather”, “sorry for this email” and “sorry for boring you” are all right up there with the worst things you can say. But do we really need to apologise, should we apologise, and what will people think if we stop apologising?
A 2012 study by Australian scholars found that after a few days of not apologising (even for things we did actually do), you begin to feel fantastic – by apologising we transfer power to the other person, and transfer blame to ourselves, making us feel bad. If we don’t apologise, we don’t admit doing any wrong, which means we tend to downplay the effects, and are more likely to do the wrong thing again. The study also found that the more we apologise, the more diluted it becomes, the less it means, and the easier it is for us to say. Therefore, apologising is actually detrimental to our wellbeing.
I mean, imagine having to send your mate a “Sorry I Fucked Your Dad”, “Sorry I Fucked Your Mum” or “Sorry I’m a Cunt” sorry card every single time you wanted to apologise for something throughout the day. After the third or fourth sorry card, you would start to feel a little ridiculous, wouldn’t you? Not to mention the amount of money you would be spending on postage! Apologising all of the time means that people will expect you to be subservient, which in turn means you are more likely to say sorry. It’s a vicious circle, and one that needs to be broken fast!
So, next time you start to open your mouth to apologise when someone bumps into you, take a second, close your lips, smile and walk on by. Not only will you be doing yourself a favour, you’ll also be helping to normalise not apologising for Brits everywhere. Saying sorry is second nature, so if you do manage to kick the habit, then you deserve one of our “Congratufuckinglations” congratulations cards.