Fears of inadequacy sweep the nation, giving women a serious case of “sorry syndrome.” You have encountered the poster girl, I’m sure, maybe once or twice. She is the one with her head bowed, trying to be quiet, so careful that she is unwilling to live fully for even a moment. She is perhaps even you sometimes, scrambling with apologies after a mistake is made. Here are some tips to beat “sorry syndrome.”

Vow to Say What You Want

“Sorry” is a place holder for vulnerability. It is the shield we hide behind when we want to feel safe. When someone interrupts your sentence in class, and you tell them to keep going, and you giggle and cover your mouth before quickly saying “Sorry”, you are hiding from your inadequacy. You never blame the person’s interruption on disrespect, you always blame it on the fact that you talk too much- that at the very core of your being, you ARE too much!

Though society may say you are too much and not enough because you are a woman, stand up to them by actively stating your opinion and being proud of your vulnerability. Don’t hide behind “Sorry.” Empower yourself by standing up for what you believe in. Make it a habit that can’t come undone.

Vow to Make People Uncomfortable

Chronic apologizers tip toe, constantly looking around for opportunities to devalue themselves. Their worst fear is making others uncomfortable with their opinions, with their voice, even with their appearance! I once had a friend who wore a wonderful wig, and got complimented multiple times a day. What bothered me was that each time a compliment came, she would look down, quickly cut the person off and say, “It’s not my real hair – I’m sorry.” What upset me in this moment was how natural it was for my friend to introduce her beauty with disclaimers. What angered me was how people responded to my friend. They looked shocked, and ultimately disappointed. “Awwww really?” Their disappointment validated everything she believed about herself and her worth.

A woman willing to make people uncomfortable for what she believes in does not have to say, “I’m sorry for who I am.” What she says instead is “I’m here, and you should deal with it. I’m not here to make you comfortable.” Practice saying that in your mirror every morning for a week and watch the change come!

Vow to Uplift Other Women

I was recently in a candy store with two friends, and I didn’t know what I wanted. Though, we were the only people in the store, I still felt embarrassed when I couldn’t make a decision about what I wanted. I looked around at all the choices and the shop owner continued to wait politely. When a few, quiet seconds went by I said “I’m sorry” a couple of times to keep the silence at bay. The shop owner looked at me and said in a serious, but kind voice. “What are you saying sorry for? You didn’t do anything wrong! Take your time.”

What would it mean for women to create an empowering call-out-culture on apologizers? Would it mean women as a whole are more confident? Would it mean a growing sisterhood in which women feel more included? I’m not sure! But, what it will do is what that shop owner did for me in that one moment. By calling out my compulsive apologizing, she reminded me that I am valued and that I can’t hide from my inadequacies. She told me that I should embrace myself and all the quirks that make me who I am. Call out someone the next time they say “sorry” out of habit. Your kind and positive intention will, if anything, teach them that there are people who care.

To get rid of the sorry syndrome that plagues women everywhere, we have to consider intention and history. We are a marginalized group that is constantly reminded of our inadequacies. We must stop this culture, and create our own – one that’s based on hope, community and positivity, rather than fear. Make your vows today, and be proud! Your decision affects every woman around you!