Start Replacing "Sorry" with "Thank You"

Start Replacing "Sorry" with "Thank You"

By Thao Nguyen

If there was a list of words I use most often, “sorry” would probably be very close to the top of the list. I apologize for everything. I find myself saying and sending the same messages over and over again.

Sorry, I completely forgot.

Sorry, I’ll be a little late.

Sorry, let me explain it a little better.

Most of the time, my friends will respond with something along the lines of “Don’t apologize! You didn’t do anything wrong!” But no matter how often I heard this refrain, I couldn’t stop myself from asking for forgiveness over even the most minor things.

In some cases, my apologies were appropriate. I had messed up and I needed to take credit for what I had done or I was sharing empathy and sympathy with the person I was speaking to. In other cases, my apologies were unnecessary. I was apologizing for things that were completely insignificant or out of my control. By asking for forgiveness constantly, I was creating and imagining conflict where there was none and showing the people in my life that I would apologize for anything, thus making my most sincere sorries seem insincere.

A quick survey of my friends showed me that I wasn’t the only person falling into this habit. Nearly everyone in my life has found themselves constantly apologizing for things that didn’t require an “I’m sorry.” What does this say about us? That we have an overactive guilt complex? That we always feel like we’re not good enough or messing up? Or maybe it says that we think we owe people a really high standard of treatment? No matter what our reasons, I do know that it isn’t the worst habit one can have. There’s nothing wrong with showing regret. But there are definitely situations where our regret should be replaced with gratitude.

Rather than repeating the same statements all the time, we should replace them with words of appreciation.

Instead of: Sorry, I completely forgot.
Say: Thanks for reminding me!

Instead of: Sorry, I’ll be a little late.
Say: Thanks for waiting for me.

Instead of: Sorry, let me explain it a little better.
Say: Thanks for trying to understand, let me explain it differently.

By voicing our gratefulness for any inconveniences people have to endure on our part, we’re acknowledging what they have to put up with, but we’re also not taking on culpability for something that was out of our hands. Instead of taking on blame, we’re returning kindness with kindness.  

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