Five Things To Say Instead of “I’m Sorry”

Is there something you’re working on right now? Not like the email you’ve been meaning to send for the past hour, but instead find yourself scrolling through your favorite blogs and sites. No – like … something for yourself. Maybe you’re working on being more brave. Maybe you’re working on not snoozing your alarm. I find it so interesting to see what people’s current goals are to better themselves because I think bettering ourselves (is that a word?) is the way to keep growing in the world instead of staying stagnant. Make life easier on ourselves – take away anxiety and stress and imposter syndromes.

I know it’s not a magic wand, but through therapy over the past year or so, I’ve really learned so much and there’s a lot of things that I’ve tried to implement in my daily life that I feel will make me overall happier. (Like naming my emotions and allowing myself to feel several different things at once or learning to ask for help.)

One thing I’ve thought about a lot recently is decreasing the amount of times I say “I’m sorry.”

There’s pretty much only a handful of occasions when this phrase is actually warranted.

-When you drop a pan on your sister’s big toe. (Been there, done that.)

-When something horrible happens to someone you love (“I am so sorry this is happening to you” can be a really validated phrase to say to someone, without suggesting or implying that they need to be positive, look for a silver living, etc.)

-I’m sure there’s a third option, but frankly I’d like to keep getting on with the message so…

I always thought I should say “sorry” so that no one ever mistakes anything I do wrong as intentional. If I didn’t deliver on something or didn’t do something exactly how someone wanted, I was quick to apologize and apologize and apologize like there were no other sentiments in the English dictionary because I was just TERRIFIED that they would think ill of me. If I didn’t say sorry then I was showed up late because I didn’t care or I sent a wrong email to the wrong person because I’m careless….and on and on with negative self-talk about myself. In reality, I am just DOING MY BEST and everyone is out here DOING THEIR BEST.

You can’t control what other people think of you. I had to come to terms with the fact that even if I was sorry or did something by mistake and the other person was mad at me, I had to just let them have that emotion. After all, it speaks on them and not on me.

You can only be kind, right?

Let me set up a few situations where people tend to apologize and over-apologize. You may have heard some of these before, and that just means you are woke and a self aware individual and I applaud you for that.

*You rush in to coffee with a friend 10 minutes passed the time agreed upon.* “Sorry I’m late!”

*An email from a colleague comes through. They are circling back on something you never responded to.* “Sorry I am just now seeing this!”

*Someone disagrees with you.* “Oh yeah, sorry that’s totally what I meant! You’re right!”

I’ve learned that the word “sorry” doesn’t sound reassuring. It sounds like it comes out rushed, out of breath, and a little – desperate isn’t the right word, but it just comes across like you’re putting yourself down in order to make someone else feel comfortable.

Anyway – in most situations, the person you’re meeting isn’t mad that you’re late. That gave them more time to order their coffee and find a table. The colleague emailing you isn’t freaking out that you didn’t get back to them yet; they just realized they hadn’t heard from you and wanted to see about getting in touch. And the person who interjected their opinion on a matter doesn’t necessarily need you to agree with them, they just wanted to give their point of view – and your side should be equally respected.

How about –

“Thanks so much for waiting for me!”

“Thanks for circling back/checking in”

“I see what you mean. I think….”

I’ll tell you what: it takes practice, but I genuinely believe that not saying sorry all the time helps people to take me seriously and helps me to have self love and respect for myself. If I’m always saying “sorry”, the mean girl in my head is saying “you’re a big dummy and you messed up again”. But now if I thank people for their patience, their time spent helping me, or just them giving me their opinion – I have a lot more compassion for the person and for myself all at once. Like magic! And yet – be gentle with yourself because, it takes time.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this or something you’ve been trying to be better at lately. We’re all just doing our best!