I originally wrote this for Momentum Jewelry’s online blog last year. I came across it in my files and felt Spring was an appropriate time for a refreshed attitude and outlook!
As a busy mom of twin boys, I am always sorry for something – being late, in the way, or forgetting something important. While a sincere apology definitely has its place, I found myself wondering how often I was simply apologizing for not living up to what I perceived someone’s expectations were of me. As women, we are bombarded with images and opinions of what the “ideal” mother, sister, and friend look like. This creates too many situations in which we are simply apologizing for being ourselves.
I finally asked myself – What if I replaced “I’m Sorry” with “Thank You” in my everyday conversations?
It is not as crazy as it sounds! Think of the last time you ran with a friend who may be faster than you, and you offered an apology for not keeping up. Why not simply thank your friend for running at your pace? You have switched the narrative in your head from negative (I cannot run as fast) to positive, (I have amazing friends that run with me!). I tried this recently when running a race with a friend who definitely outpaces me. Had I apologized to her for not being fast, that feeling of inadequacy would have followed me for every mile; ruining the fun and making my friend feel bad for typically running faster. Instead, I thanked her for having fun with me, which made the race an adventure we both shared with the same attitude – a positive one.
This switch in paradigm does not just apply to working out. Constantly apologizing at work can lead to your coworkers believing there really is something wrong with you. If someone catches an error you make, thank them for it! This swaps the negative feeling of a mistake (yours) to a positive one for them (helping you.) By increasing someone else’s value instead of decreasing your own, you make yourself someone that others will look forward to working with.
Limiting how often you make apologies for things will also increase your friend’s perception of how genuine you are as a person. Limiting apologies for trivial things that could be turned into a thank you will make a necessary apology a lot more meaningful. We always to tell our kids to say sorry “like they mean it” and they are a perfect example of this mantra. Children do not apologize for their inadequacies, because no one has told them they are not good enough yet. Why don’t we believe in ourselves the same way?
A few weeks have passed for me since making this switch, and I find that I have a better perception of myself as a person as a whole. By looking for reasons to thank my friends, I am more aware of the amazing group of people that surround me because I am focusing on our strengths rather that my weaknesses. It is such a little change, but it will shifts my perception of the situation and spreads gratitude instead of negativity. Who doesn’t want to do that?