Miyo Saimori, lost her mother at a young age and her father remarried. As she had no visible talents and with her unsupportive family, Miyo believed she had no self-worth.
One of the first things we notice about Miyo Saimori is that she constantly apologises regardless of whether it is her fault or not. In her family home, Miyo was constantly subjected to her stepmother’s displeasure and shunned by her father and stepsister. She was made to feel like an embarrassment and incapable of doing anything right.
Even when she entered her husband’s household, a comparatively safer space than her maiden home, she continued apologising for everything.
Over-apologising can become an internalised coping mechanism due to various reasons. In Miyo’s case, this excessive apologising stems from the prolonged trauma she received from her family since young. Clinical psychologist Dr Cynthia King explains that the over-apologising can serve as a survival mechanism for such individuals to “keep the peace and avoid further traumatisation”. This behaviour is commonly seen as a trauma response to bullying at home and in social circles. Sometimes we believe others’ cruel words, and in turn become unkind to ourselves, and feel like we need to apologise for existing
Over-apologising can feed a vicious cycle of low self-esteem and false guilt where the more we apologise, the more we believe we truly have something to apologise for. False guilt is the belief that every negative occurrence and displeasure of others is our fault which only reinforces the behaviour of over-apologising. We need to know our worth and surround ourselves with people who see the good in us to break the cycle.
In later episodes, we witness Miyo’s bravery; rejecting her stepmother and stepsister’s demands even after being bullied once more. Her knowledge of her worth to Kiyoda, her fiance, and his household gave her strength to stand up to them.
Breaking this habit of over-apologising can be difficult, especially if we rationalise that our actions would make others happier .
Here are some steps you can take towards loving yourself and breaking the cycle:
- Forgive yourself
If you really made a mistake, learn from it and forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself. Try to identify what caused this behaviour without blaming yourself. Know that you are human and are just doing your best.
- Surround yourself with people who care
Self-blame and guilt reverberate strongly in an echo chamber especially when these thoughts are sending you into a spiral. Look to people who care and see the good in you to challenge the negative thoughts about yourself.
- Pause and reflect before responding
When you feel compelled to say “I’m sorry” for something, first slow yourself down. Pause and take a breath. Try to identify if this is something you need to take responsibility for or if you are trying to keep the peace.
- Rephrase your response
Think of ways you can diffuse the situation or turn an apology into a statement of gratitude. For example, instead of “Sorry for taking so long” try “thank you for waiting for me”.
- Practise self-affirmation
Remember that it is okay to have opinions and stand up for yourself. You are worthy and deserving of respect.