I read an article a long time ago geared toward people trying to make a positive lifestyle change. It focused heavily on replacing and reframing. Instead of telling a dieter not to eat cookies late at night, replace that action with another one. Rather than eating cookies while watching a late-night movie, knit. Instead of starting your morning with a cigarette, drink a tall glass of ice water. Every time you want to gossip or say something negative about someone, do 5 pushups.
Obviously, a lot of these “switches” are easier said than done. Nevertheless, the notion remains the same. It is far easier to replace something bad with something good than it is to simply cut out the something bad.
I was thinking about this recently in recalling a long-ago conversation with a friend who was frustrated at my constant apologizing. They told me to stop apologizing. I said sorry.
For many people – women especially – we are constantly told to stop saying sorry but rarely given an alternative. Here’s my alternative. Say thank you.
“Sorry I was late” becomes “thank you for waiting for me!”
“Sorry to bother you” becomes “thanks for giving me a minute of your time.”
“Sorry for being so needy right now” becomes “thank you for being such a good friend and listening to me.”
Chances are, your friend doesn’t feel like you’ve done anything worth apologizing for. When you apologize, you place the idea in their head of, “oh, geez, maybe you are always late.”
But when you thank them? Well you’ve just made them the superhero. You’ve given them a boost. Of course, they are the kind of person who would wait or who would have time for you or who would be a good friend.
I’ve been trading sorrys for thank yous for quite some time now and it genuinely makes me hold myself differently. In an email just this morning, I traded “sorry for the inconvenience” to “thank you for your understanding.” The individual responded positively, and I removed any unnecessary burden of guilt.
What things are you apologizing for that you should be saying thank you for?