A long time ago I lived in a country where your automatic response to meeting someone is to bow your head or give a slight nod. Even if it’s a store clerk, giving a slight head nod is expected. If you spend any amount of time in this country you will subconsciously pick up this habit.
Because as humans we are wired to mimic the person we like. Think of a time when you were with somebody and they went for their drink and then a moment later you reached for your drink. Or you’re in a room and somebody yawns and then you yawn. Now imagine an entire country that bows and head nods and you get the idea.
One of the first changes to my mind when living in Japan, was I became more apologetic. When your surrounded by people who constantly apologize for the slightest infraction it becomes an easy habit to internalize.
But as time went on, I slowly started to get annoyed by this habit. Head nodding for everything wires your brain for apologizing and apologizing for nothing leads to little pieces of your soul getting chipped away. The price of other peoples harmony means your own takes a hit.
Compounded over years this will take a psychological effect on your brain. For some, this will manifest into a short outburst in others it will lead to a quiet desperation for others much worse.
This goes counter to the narrative that “when in Rome do as the Romans do.” Yes, but be smart about it. It’s a double edged sword. Now if you are doing business in Japan then yes by all means mimic body language and throwing in a bow is smart. What I’m talking about is making it a habit that bleeds over into something you don’t want. Mindlessly doing something out of habit will lead to subconciously apologizing for anything.
And if your surrounded by people who are wired to bow and head nod it will become second nature.
The problem with the head nod and bowing is it’s overused.
It primes your brain for apologizing.
You made a mistake on your application for a cell phones? Slight bow and apology from the clerk.
Your order was wrong? Bow and apology from the waiter.
No matter which country you’re from — no matter how much you fight it, you will pick up this habit.
The same is true for the people you surround yourself with. If your inner circle is full of average people. Then you will be average.
If your inner circle is full of negative gossips. You’re life will be full of drama.
If your inner circle is full of sharks who want more out of life. You become like them.
If you want to see the worst cogs and drones go to a Japanese company and you will see people drowning in quiet misery. That’s why I left.
Is this the reason why there are so many people who kill themselves in Japan over work? I don’t know. But apologizing too much is a factor.