Do you have the 'sorry' reflex? Barbie — yes, that Barbie — has some advice.
Did you know Barbie has a vlog? Until today, I didn't.
Since June 2015, the Mattel collectable icon has posted a bi-weekly blog to her (I'm not quite sure what pronouns to use for the video version of a doll, so I'll just go with "she" and "her" for the sake of simplicity) YouTube page. In the 60 episodes since, she's discussed meditation, how to deal with bullies, what to do when "jokes" go too far, empowerment, sadness, and being assertive.
I. Had. No. Idea. This. Existed.
Seriously, you should check out a few of those episodes; they're great.
"Thank you for watching my vlog." All GIFs from Barbie/Facebook.
The latest video is one that a lot of us, kids and adults, can probably relate to: the "sorry reflex."
Do you find yourself apologizing when you didn't do anything wrong? If somebody bumps into you, do you ever find yourself reflexively responding, "Sorry?" Or have you ever apologized for a normal reaction to something that made you happy, sad, or excited? That's what Barbie talks about in this video.
Does it seem like girls and women apologize more than boys and men? On average, they do.
A small but widely shared 2010 study published in Psychological Science found that women had a tendency to say "sorry" more often than men. It's not that women do more that require an apology; they simply have a different threshold for what they think warrants one. The study, backed up by a 2015 YouGov study and others, didn't find any sort of genetic explanation for this difference. Instead, the theory states, this has to do with socialization and a world that undermines female ambition.
Many of society's signals are subtle and likely unintentional, but they build up over time. Kids are pretty perceptive about these things. Take for example the story of 12-year-old Julianne Speyer, who wrote a letter to her local paper's editor pointing out that the announcer at her town's Fourth of July parade "labeled the Boy Scouts as 'future leaders of America,' and he said the Girls Scouts were 'just having fun.'" Over time, these statements become internalized, leading girls to feel subconsciously guilty about dreaming big and resulting in the "sorry" reflex.
"I think there's a bigger issue around 'sorry.' Especially with girls. We say it a lot."
There are a few things — and this is good advice for children and adults — you can do to help break the "sorry" reflex.
Barbie offers viewers a challenge: For one day, anytime you'd normally say "sorry," try saying "thank you," instead. For example, if you're feeling sad and would have normally said "Sorry, I'm feeling a bit down in the dumps today," try saying "Thank you for understanding that I feel a bit blue today."
Dr. Rachel Busman, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, urges parents and children to be mindful of starting sentences with apologies ("Sorry, but...") or using language that hedges on your own confidence ("This is probably a dumb question, but..." "I could be wrong, but..." "Excuse me, but..." and so on) because those instinctive responses can quickly become habits.
This isn't to say that people shouldn't ever apologize. We all make mistakes or do things that we should apologize for. The goal is to save our "sorrys" for those moments.
Watch Barbie's "'Sorry' Reflex" vlog below.
Sorry Reflex | Barbie Vlog | Episode 60
Do you and your little ones say “sorry” as a reflex, without even thinking about it? Many people do! #Barbie challenges you to change the dynamic and say “thank you” instead of apologizing. Are you up for the challenge? 💖Posted by Barbie on Tuesday, July 17, 2018