People who apologize too much often had these same 10 childhood experiences

Have you ever noticed how some people just can’t stop saying ‘sorry’ all the time?

Even when it’s not their fault, they’re quick to apologize.

If that sounds like you or someone you know, then this article is for you.

This habit of saying sorry too much is often due to things that happened when we were kids.

It’s a bit surprising, right?

This habit is called ‘Over-Apologizing.’

It could be something small like saying sorry when someone else bumps into you, or something big like feeling you need to apologize just for being around.

But why does this happen? Why do some people feel they need to keep saying sorry?

That’s what we’re going to figure out today.

We’re going to look at the common childhood experiences of people who say sorry too much.

Here are the ten childhood experiences often found in folks who apologize a lot.

1. Grew Up in an Overcritical Environment

One of the common experiences that people who apologize too much often share is growing up in an overly critical environment.

As children, they may have been constantly scrutinized or corrected, making them feel like they’re always doing something wrong.

Imagine being a kid and hearing a lot of “Don’t do that!” or “You’re doing it wrong!”

These negative comments could make anyone feel like they’re always messing things up.

In an effort to avoid criticism or to smooth things over, these children may start to apologize more.

As they grow up, this habit sticks with them. They might feel they’re always on the verge of making a mistake and say ‘sorry’ preemptively, even when it’s not necessary. It’s their way of protecting themselves from possible criticism or negative feedback.

If this sounds like you, remember – it’s not your fault. These childhood experiences can have long-lasting effects, but understanding why you apologize so much is the first step towards breaking the habit.

2. Lived with High Levels of Family Conflict

Another common childhood experience of people who apologize excessively is living in a household with a lot of conflict.

This might have been arguments between parents, between siblings, or even extended family members that lived with them.

As kids, dealing with constant arguments can be really scary and stressful.

To cope with this, some children try to become ‘peacemakers’ in their families.

They might apologize or take the blame for things just to stop an argument or prevent a new one from starting.

Over time, this behavior can become a habit that sticks around even when they’re out of that stressful environment.

They might find themselves saying ‘sorry’ in situations where it’s not needed, just because it’s what they’re used to doing.

If you recognize yourself in this, remember that it’s okay to stand up for yourself.

Apologizing isn’t always the best way to keep the peace, and you don’t have to take the blame for everything.

3. Always Felt the Need to Please Others

Here’s another common thread among those who apologize too much – always feeling the need to please others. This one really hits home for me because I was that kid.

Growing up, I always felt this overwhelming desire to make everyone around me happy. Whether it was my parents, teachers, or friends, I believed it was my responsibility to ensure they were never upset or disappointed. This translated into me saying ‘sorry’ for everything, even when things were beyond my control.

For instance, I remember once apologizing profusely to my friend when her pet hamster died. Of course, I had nothing to do with it. But the mere fact that she was upset made me feel like I needed to apologize. It’s strange when you think about it now, but back then, it seemed like the right thing to do.

If you’re nodding along as you read this, know that you’re not alone. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that we’re responsible for others’ happiness. But it’s important to remember that we can’t control everything and everyone around us – and that’s okay! It’s not your job to fix everything, and it’s certainly not a reason to constantly apologize.

4. They Felt Invisible or Ignored

A lot of people who apologize too much have a common childhood experience – they often felt invisible or ignored. It’s like they were there, but not quite there, often overlooked or disregarded.

In response to this, these kids might have started to apologize excessively as a means to get noticed. By saying ‘sorry’, they were essentially saying, “Hey, look at me. I’ve made a mistake. I need your attention.” It’s their way of seeking validation and acknowledgment that they exist and matter.

People who consistently feel ignored or excluded are more likely to engage in attention-seeking behaviors, including excessive apologizing.

If you find yourself apologizing too much, maybe it’s because you once felt overlooked and are unconsciously seeking recognition. But remember, your value doesn’t depend on others noticing you. You matter, with or without their acknowledgment.

5. Were Victims of Bullying

Unfortunately, many people who have a habit of over-apologizing were victims of bullying as children. These experiences can be deeply scarring and can leave individuals with a heightened sense of self-doubt and fear.

Just picture a small child, constantly picked on, teased, or physically hurt by others. This child might start to believe that he or she is the problem, that they somehow deserve the harsh treatment they’re receiving.

It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?

As a result, they might develop a habit of apologizing excessively, as if to say ‘sorry’ for being themselves or ‘sorry’ for any perceived inconvenience they might cause. It’s their defense mechanism – a way to avoid further negative attention or conflict.

6. Felt Responsible for Others’ Feelings

This one resonates with me quite a bit.

Growing up, I often felt responsible for other people’s feelings. If someone was upset or angry, I somehow believed it was my fault. I thought I must have done something wrong to make them feel that way.

I remember one instance when my parents were having a heated argument, and instead of realizing that it was their issue to resolve, I blamed myself. I thought if I had been a better kid or if I had done things differently, they wouldn’t be arguing. So, I ended up apologizing to them both, even though their argument had nothing to do with me.

This habit of shouldering others’ emotional burdens carried into my adult life. I found myself saying ‘sorry’ anytime someone around me was upset, even if it wasn’t related to me.

If you find yourself doing this, know that you’re not alone. But remember, you’re not responsible for how others feel. It’s okay to empathize with them, but it’s not your job to carry their emotional weight.

7. Lived with Unpredictable Adults

Many people who apologize too much spent their childhood living with unpredictable adults. You know, the kind where you never knew what mood they’d be in from one moment to the next. The kind that would be laughing and happy one moment, then screaming or crying the next.

As a kid in this kind of environment, you learn to walk on eggshells. You become hyper-aware of every little thing you do or say, terrified you might trigger another scary outburst. So you start apologizing – for everything. It becomes your shield, your attempt to diffuse any potential blow-ups.

It’s a survival tactic, and it’s an exhausting one. Always wondering if you’re going to mess up, always trying to keep the peace. It’s not fair to any child.

If this was your childhood, I want to tell you that it wasn’t your fault. You were just a kid trying to survive in a chaotic world. And now, as an adult, you don’t have to keep apologizing for existing. You don’t have to keep walking on eggshells.

8. Were Raised to Be ‘Seen But Not Heard’

A lot of people who apologize too much were raised in households where children were expected to be ‘seen but not heard.’ This old-fashioned parenting belief suggests that children should behave well, not interrupt adults, and generally keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.

Growing up in such an environment can make a child feel like their thoughts, feelings, or needs are unimportant. Over time, they may start to apologize for expressing themselves or taking up space because they’ve been taught that it’s ‘impolite’ or ‘inappropriate.’

The thing is that people who were raised under strict authoritarian parenting styles are more likely to become excessive apologizers as adults.

So if you find yourself constantly apologizing, it might be because you were raised to believe that your voice didn’t matter.

9. Felt Different or Out of Place

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt different or out of place growing up. Whether it was because of my interests, my looks, or just the way I thought, I always felt like I didn’t quite fit in.

As a result, I would often apologize for being who I was. If I shared an opinion that differed from the group, I’d quickly follow it up with a ‘sorry.’ If my clothes were different than what others were wearing, I’d apologize as if my uniqueness was something wrong.

Looking back, I realize that my constant apologizing was a way for me to try and blend in, to make myself less noticeable, less ‘different.’

If you’ve ever felt this way and find yourself over-apologizing as a result, remember this: being different isn’t something to apologize for. It’s something to embrace. You are unique, you are special, and you don’t need to say ‘sorry’ for being you.

10. Had to Grow Up Too Fast

Lastly, many people who over-apologize had to grow up too fast. Maybe they had to take care of their siblings or even their parents. Maybe they had to work from a young age or take on responsibilities that weren’t appropriate for children.

When you’re forced into adulthood prematurely, you often feel out of place and inadequate. And so, you start apologizing for everything as a way of acknowledging your perceived inadequacies.

If this was your experience, please know this: it wasn’t your job to be an adult when you were a child. You did the best you could with what you had, and you don’t have anything to apologize for.

Being aware of why we over-apologize is the first step towards breaking the habit. Saying ‘sorry’ has its time and place, but it shouldn’t be something we say out of fear or habit. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and occupy space in this world without apologizing for it.


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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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