A few years ago I found myself being one of those women who says “sorry” all the time. I muttered it ashen faced when I was running 2 minutes late, when someone bumped into me, or even if I bumped into a hall table, alone at home.
You know those commercials that feature the #SorryNotSorry? I was the poster child for that. If I needed more room in an elevator or at a conference table, there I was, apologizing for taking up any space at all. When I went for a massage I was silently saying sorry in my mind to the masseuse for having to deal with my less than perfect body.
However, It reached ridiculous fever pitch heights when I bought a new car and found myself silently saying sorry to the car as I started it for having a less than adequate driver, that would be me, at the helm. At that point, even I couldn’t miss that there was a problem.
I knew the ridiculousness had to stop, but attempting to go cold turkey wasn’t quite able to cut my subconscious habit, and saying “not sorry,” after each “sorry,” just seemed childish. So I took a different tactic.
I switched up the very energy of what I was saying by giving thanks, instead. Every time I was tempted to say “sorry” with that victim look on my face, I switched to saying a calm thanks instead.
If I was 2 minutes late, or 15, I walked into my appointment, smiling calmly, and saying “Thank you for waiting for me.” When somebody made room for me at a table I said a simple, “Thanks.” Lying face down on the massage table I started saying a silent “Thank you for being kind to my body.” And though maybe it sounds silly, when I started my car I even began silently saying “Thank you for being my car and letting me drive you.”
Not only did it stop me from saying sorry all the time, but it also changed the very energy I was bringing into the room. Instead of always having my focus on my inadequacies and on how I wasn’t measuring up, I now had my attention on all the ways others were showing up for me, supporting me, accepting me. I felt more confident and happier.
Being thankful instead of sorry made me feel better, but it also had a surprising effect on others. It made them happier as well. They felt recognized and appreciated, and they no longer had to listen to the inherent lack of self-worth that tended to tinge the sheepish sorries I was handing out.
They no longer had to take care of me. They didn’t have to make me feel better for my mistakes, or feel bad for being annoyed when I was justifiably in the wrong. I was emotionally taking care of myself and that left them feeling free to take care of themselves.
It turned out giving out the thankful vibe was win-win.
Did I stop saying “sorry” all together? Of course not. There are times that truly do call for an “I’m sorry.” However, by no longer handing them out so cheaply, the times I do say them have far more weight and impact. They are genuine attempts at reconciliation, not just jabs at myself, or attempts to beat people to the punch of kicking me while I’m down.
Turns out that by upping the thankful vibe I have also been living with more
integrity. And that’s something to be thankful about.