A few years ago on New Years I resolved to do the Whole 30 Cleanse. It was grueling but totally worth the pain.
Last year I resolved to begin writing again after allowing my gift to sit dormant while I bathed in the sweetness of my new baby. I hope it’s beginning to bless many people.
This year I have another very powerful resolution. And it’s unlike any other that’s come before.
In 2017 I’m going to stop saying “I’m sorry”.
You may think this sounds pretty nuts.
I’m a polite person and I was raised, like most people, to apologize as an empathetic response to the pain of people around me.
In fact, I even taught my son the sign language for “sorry” when he was 18 months old.
I envisioned him learning compassion through active recognition of the pain he’s caused others.
I’m not going to un-teach him the word nor the sign for “sorry”. But I’m about to un-teach myself for a period.
You see, people apologize incessantly. I apologize incessantly. Less than I used to, but still too much.
Although research is limited on the subject, it appears that women apologize much more than men.
Here’s the interesting part.
Women and men apologize for the exact same reasons; to admit when they’ve done something wrong. The problem is that women see themselves as culpable much more often than men.
One researcher observes, “women might have a lower threshold for what requires an apology because they are more concerned with the emotional experiences of others and in promoting harmony in their relationships”.
With that comes apologizing before there’s resolution.
Or apologizing when I’ve done nothing wrong.
Somebody bumps into my cart at the grocery store and I automatically respond with “I’m sorry”, even if it isn’t my fault.
When the salad comes dressed and I made it very clear I wanted dressing on the side, I apologize.
When I’m late for a meeting because my toddler just threw up all over himself, his car seat, and the entire backseat of my car… you guessed it. I apologize.
If somebody hurts me and gets irritated at me for sticking up for myself, I apologize to restore harmony in the relationship; thereby invalidating my own needs and feelings…
Do you see a pattern here?
Now and then, a simple “I’m sorry” is totally appropriate.
In 2017, I’ll make a few mistakes for which I will take accountability.
But I find that I make myself unnecessarily weaker in relationships because of my incessant apologizing. That’s got to stop.
I find that I apologize in order to stop arguing. It’s become standard for me to take responsibility for things that aren’t my fault. That has to stop.
I find that I apologize when things are unresolved because I want to get away from the difficult communication. That has to stop.
It’s time to put on my big girl panties and stand in the fire.
It’s time to grow up and refuse to sweep things under the rug with a simple “I’m sorry” when higher level communication is in order.
It’s time to love myself enough to say, “that hurt me, too. Let’s find out how to work through this together before we move on.”
It’s time to stop saying “I’m sorry” and start saying, “don’t let that happen again”.
Not saying I’m sorry is the greatest form of self-love I can give myself in 2017.
Constant apologizing manifests culpability on my part to the world for things that are often out of my control.
By saying “I’m sorry” over a dozen times per day, I’m abusing myself. I’m telling myself that things that happen are my fault. Even when they aren’t.
At the end of the day, the weight of responsibility for a myriad of wrongs rests on my shoulders.
No wonder I flop into bed at night like I’ve been losing a bloody war by day.
For all these reasons and many more, I’m going to mindfully stop saying I’m sorry for everything this year.
Instead, I’ll say thank you.
You may have seen some viral threads going around about this concept. I’m a huge fan.
How does thankfulness look as opposed to unnecessary culpability?
I’m still new at this, but I think it looks like this:
Thank you for waiting while I tended to my child.
Thank you for understanding my side of the story.
Thank you for listening when I know you’re feeling angry.
Thank you for holding the door open for me as I clumsily ran my shopping cart over your toe.
Thank you for wanting me to come and visit even though my schedule won’t allow it.
Thank you for sharing your business idea with me, although I’m not going to invest.
Thank you for encouraging me to go on a 40-day juice cleanse with you; I’m going to pass at this time.
Thank you for thinking of me for your project. It’s not in my capacity at this time.
Thanks for inviting me out. I have other plans.
Thank you for loving me even though I can be pretty unlovable.
Thank you for laughing with me when I said that horrible/embarrassing thing. That tends to happen a lot with me.
Thank you for your generosity when I didn’t have money.
Thanks for taking the burden of cooking tonight; I didn’t want to get out of bed.
Thank you for following my website and reading my book. They aren’t perfect but they’re made with love.
Thank you for agreeing to discuss this some more. I know you’re tired but it’s important we come to a resolution.
Thank you for seeing my side of this story. I know it takes a lot of humility to consider somebody else’s point of view when you feel you’re right.
With all the love and humility I can muster, I’m not sorry.