There’s a lot of phrases that we repeat as mothers. But there’s one phrase I want to challenge you to say less: I’m sorry.
It may seem small, but did you know that saying this one simple phrase LESS OFTEN could improve yourself and your relationships with others? I certainly didn’t believe that removing the phrase I’m sorry could ever make me feel more comfortable, yet alone empowered, but it has.
Earlier this year while scrolling Instagram, I came across a visual that talked about replacing I’m sorry with thank you. Some examples it gave were:
“I’m sorry I am late.” —–> “Thank you for waiting for me.”
“I’m sorry I have to ask for your help.” ——> “Thank you for your support.”
“I’m sorry for not sending this earlier.” ——> “Thank you for your patience.”
As a person who has struggled with goal setting and New Years’ resolutions (historically speaking) I figured I’d give it a try. Now, I do believe there is a time and a place for a genuine apology, but as humans (and especially as women and mothers), we often use I’m sorry as a placeholder for fault, guilt, embarrassment, and perceived feelings of others. As I began my “no sorry” journey, I quickly noticed three fundamental shifts in how I felt about myself and others around me.
Gratitude vs. Negativity
The biggest change I noticed with the challenge of eliminating I’m sorry was that I began to express more gratitude towards others instead of projecting negativity. It was much easier and felt (a heck of a lot) better expressing appreciation for support than creating negativity around a situation. Expressing kindness allowed me to model for other people my expectations of positivity first, and apologies could come later. Speaking gratitude towards others instead of apologies humanized me, helped me get to know people better, and made me look forward to interactions with others on a daily basis.
A real apology
The use of I’m sorry has become so common it often seems disingenuous. By constantly apologizing, we set ourselves up for unwanted blame, ownership of others’ problems, and sets a standard of negatively-focused language. I found that when I said sorry to someone now, I feel it more. I only use it to accept the responsibility, which led others in my life to understand how seriously I take an apology. It invited conversation and reflection, not a strategy to release me from a tough situation. I truly believe that saving sorry for the right time and place has helped people understand when I was authentic and vulnerable.
The Midwestern culture we live in often mandates that a person focus on being courteous, friendly, and polite by ALL. MEANS. NECESSARY. I really struggled returning to this cultural practice after living on the East Coast. I needed a better balance. I didn’t want people around me to view my choice to eliminate I’m sorry as rude or arrogant, so I had to be very intentional about how I communicated. Freedom came through the practice of converting negativity to gratitude and focusing on authenticity.
Here was the result:
- Instead of owning the missteps of other people, I became a trusted advocate.
- I created healthy personal boundaries instead of shouldering the weight of unnecessary regret.
- I built better self-confidence when I expanded my vocabulary and expressed my accountability.
- People found me more grounded and trustworthy.
So here is my challenge for you:
Eliminate I’m sorry from your everyday dialogue. Try it! Start right now! Thank people, become an advocate for yourself, set healthy boundaries, and most of all, feel liberated by not shouldering the weight of meaningless apologies and negativity. Do it for a week with your friends, family or co-workers, and share with me what happened!
It will change your life for the better.
Want to read more like this? Check out our article about using gratitude to improve your well-being here!