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Replacing "I'm Sorry" with "Thank You"

March 28, 2019 | Rachel Velishek, LPCC

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Every morning I have a routine that includes my personalized daily flash briefing. One of my favorites is Everyday Positivity with Kate Cocker. It is a short, quick, and to the point podcast on “Alexa” that provides a dose of positive thinking. I really enjoy what she has to say. It is about real life, real skills, and real changes that can be implemented immediately. Last week, there was a message focused on replacing “I’m Sorry” with “Thank you.”

We often apologize for everything but never for the right things. There is this idea that being a nice person requires you to say “I’m sorry” a lot. When we constantly say “I’m sorry,” we are inviting people to think we should be or need to be sorry for something. Very often the people who are saying “I’m sorry” most frequently are those who feel the least amount of respect.

Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” say “thank you.” When you start to communicate appreciation you will improve confidence in yourself. For many of us, we were not even aware of the frequency we texted, emailed, or verbalized “I’m sorry” until reading this. Now it is on your mind.

It is possible to be both confident and kind. It is possible to be kind to yourself, implement self-care, and still be kind to others. It is all about how we communicate. Replacing the language you use will shift the way you think not only about yourself but your relationships as well. The people you previously said “I’m sorry” to, those who were hearing the negativity, are now able to receive gratitude and experience the appreciation and positivity you can offer. How you communicate with others will start to be straight forward and more genuine.

As you transition from “I am sorry” to “Thank you,” you will start to feel a sense of empowerment. The change in language will directly influence what you feel and the actions you take. Over time you will stop seeking approval and reassurance through apologies and start to give to yourself. The self-blame will be reduced and the acceptance will be increased.

When we say “sorry,” we are expressing a negative feeling. It increases feelings of guilt. There is an opportunity to be positive in your thoughts and feelings with “thank you.” Save the apologies for when you experience true feelings of remorse, when there is guilt, or an intent was made to cause harm. Find the way to say “thank you” and stop apologizing for something that was not intended or was not your mistake.

There will be times that an apology is necessary, and “I am sorry” is genuine, but not all the time. Take the time to start evaluating what are valid reasons to say “I am sorry” and if you are overdoing it. The first step to achieving change is to recognize the need to change. Now that you know, start replacing the words and expressing gratitude.

Here are some examples of phrases you can use to break the cycle and replace negativity with positivity.

“I am sorry I was late” becomes “Thank you for your patience.”

“I am sorry to make you do this” becomes “Thank you very much for taking care of this.”

“I am sorry but I cannot make it to the party” becomes “Thank you for the invitation.”

“I am sorry to ask you this” becomes “Thank you for helping me out.”

“I am sorry for being emotional” becomes “Thank you for listening to me and loving me.”

Rachel Velishek is a licensed professional clinical counselor with Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, Fisher-Titus Medical Park 2, Suite C, 282 Benedict Ave., Norwalk. Her office can be reached at 419-668-0311. For more information on Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, visit fishertitus.org/behavioral-health.