Last year I wrote a post about "stop saying I'm sorry" and remove the word "just" and other apologetic words from our female vocabulary.
And now I'm going to say... I'm sorry!
Actually, I'm saying "Thank You for putting up with some of my really assertive language that can sometimes be taken as 'in your face' aggression."
I give you my sincere apologies for NOT posting what to say instead. It's one thing to remove words from our daily language but if we are not helped with what to replace it with, we can get all kinds of jammed up.
First, the recap from the original post is that women tend to say "I'm sorry" a lot more than necessary.
Have you ever had the experience where you are hurrying down the frozen food aisle, it's mid-summer so you feel remarkably underdressed for the sudden arctic aisle weather? You are reaching for your favorite Ben & Jerry's ice cream that will perfectly pair with the frozen pizza and wine you are sitting at the bottom of your cart. Out of nowhere your cart bumps and bounces away. The bottle of wine tips over. You quickly turn, to see another woman hurrying down the frozen lane to retreat to a warmer climate. You look at her as she flutters to the end of the aisle and then YOU say "Oh, I'm sorry!"
- "OH, sorry for interrupting you but..."
- "I'm sorry I'm late..."
- "I'm sorry for taking too much time..."
- "I just need a quick check in..."
What we have really embodied is "I'm sorry for taking up ANY space on the planet because ultimately I don't think I'm worth breathing the same air as everyone else."
OK, that may be a bit extreme but I did already clear that I can be rather aggressive in my language.
But here's the deal. We need to stop apologizing for being who we are.
Why do we say it?
It's important to realize you're not alone on this. I was an everyday apologizer earlier in my life. Women do it so naturally. We often mean it to soften the blow of whatever message we're about to deliver. But have you ever had someone start a message with, "I want you to know I really love you and you mean a lot to me"?
Right. It makes your skin crawl because you're waiting for the "but, I also need to tell you." We think we're going to fix whatever is wrong with the simple words "I'm sorry." Thus far it's not really working for anyone.
Just by saying it, we are positioning ourselves as lower. If you're into embodiment words, our entire energetic vibration lowers when we use the phrase because it the original intent of the phrase means that we made a mistake or caused harm to another person. We automatically set up that we feel bad about what we've done or said -- even if we have not yet done or said anything.
When we apologize, it signals we are not feeling good about ourselves, which means our energy is already lower than what we'd be if we were feeling powerful and influential.
Wait! Before we go on, I'm not saying to NEVER apologize. There is a time and place for saying "I'm Sorry!" It's when you really are expressing remorse and want to convey the deep feeling of wrongdoing. If you throw out the term every other sentence, it's like crying wolf and when you really DO need to apologize, you may find your apologies are not received as authentic.
So what do we say instead of "I'm sorry?"
I learned the easy insertion of saying "Thank You" rather than the reflex reaction of "I'm Sorry."
Look at these examples, then we'll talk about why it's effective.
Rather than: "I'm sorry I'm so late, but I was (list reasons)..."
Say: "Thank you for being so patient and waiting for me."
You can always give the reasons you were late if it's appropriate, but with the new "Thank You" sentence, you'll usually find you don't need to. This reframe leaves the other person feeling more open and receptive.
Rather than: "I'm sorry you have to stay late to help me with..."
Say: "Thank you so much for your help with. I really appreciate it."
Asking for someone's help, and having them say "Yes", means you have done NOTHING wrong. You have shown gratitude and make it far more likely a person will step up again to help because they feel useful AND appreciated.
Rather than: "I'm sorry I'm all over the map with my thoughts..." Or "I'm sorry this was not well thought out."
Say: "Thank you for listening to me while I figure this out outloud..." or "Thank you for being patient while I talk through what's on my mind..."
Let's keep this real. You do not have to be perfect, or even good, at expressing every idea you have. You are allowed to think out loud and get feedback. In fact, for many of us who are driven by connection and problem-solving, this is the ONLY way we work through our thoughts and ideas. In addition, when someone is willing to listen to you the chances are pretty hight that they already know you're not perfect. (There's that snarky, aggressive language again. Thanks for reading!)
Rather than: "Gosh, I'm sorry I'm not much fun to be around right now" or "Sorry I'm so tired today..."
Say: "I'm not feeling great today. Thank you for spending time with me. I really appreciate it and feel better when you're around."
You can acknowledge that you feel crappy or down or sad. Nobody is 100% happy and full of love. The people that do seem like that are either faking it or have not yet learned to deal with the range of emotions available to us humans. Saying that you are grateful for the other person spending time with you starts the meeting off with a feeling of positivity rather than the lower vibration of apology.
Why Thank You is More Effective?
Do you notice how each reframed "Thank You" feels stronger and more confident? It brings clarity rather than "icky".
The magic of saying "Thank You" is incredible to see. It raises the mood and vibrations of everyone who hears it as well as the person who says it because the original intent is that you are expressing gratitude for someone or something in your life. It also brings the focus away from you and the pity party you may be hosting for yourself at the moment.
Does it make sense?
Substituting "Thank You" for "I'm sorry" can feel really weird at first. It may take some getting used to but in the end it's a pretty easy switch that has a huge positive impact.
Thank you takes away feeling lower, less than and wrong and replaces it with appreciation, gratitude and joy.
Stop and think before you apologize and ask "WHAT am I apologizing for?" and "Would Thank You work here?" Look for all they ways you can say "Thank You" today rather than "I'm Sorry."
This turned out to be a longer article than I originally planned. Thank you for sticking with it and reading to the end. Will let me know if you try this and how it makes you feel?
See you at the Women's Leadership Summit where we dive deeper into other mysterious words we've embodied.
And P.S. Back to the women in the frozen food aisle who bumped your cart? I find "Oh, excuse you" with a smile can work wonders.