1. Know when it is a good time to be sorry. It’s appropriate to say something when someone has received bad news, or you’ve really made life difficult for someone else. However, a lot of the time an apology is not required. Learn to know the difference between the two occasions.
2. Notice who you tend to apologize to. Are there certain people who undermine your confidence, or who leave you feeling as if you’re always wrong? In those situations, you’re allowing someone else to act as if they’re more important than you.
3. Try to notice when you’re starting to apologize. Habits are often hard to recognize. They’re usually automatic, and we’re only semi-conscious of patterns we fall into, and things we tend to say. For example, do you repeatedly find yourself saying sorry for someone else’s mistakes? Do you tend to just say sorry to stop an argument?
4. Try and look for the roots, or the need, you’re covering up. For example, perhaps an authority figure (parent, teacher, older sibling, coach) used to get angry if you didn’t “just shut up” or take the blame. Alternatively, you may feel you can’t really share the way you feel – so you just apologize and repress your true emotions.
5. Related to the above, consider how your drive to apologize to others is likely to affect you much further down the road. For example it is likely that you’re building up a heap of grievances, or you may pull back from get close to those you love.
6. Decide to establish and enforce your boundaries, and to say “no” to others – without also saying “sorry”!