Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Never Say Sorry

How many times do you reckon you have said: “I’m sorry” in your lifetime? What comes out of your mouth is more important than what you put in it. Do you really want to say that you are “sorry”? Sorry means “in a poor or pitiful state”. It is clear to me that most people don’t mean what they say and say what they don’t mean. We have to get clear on how we feel and what we are trying to communicate.

Instead of saying “I am sorry”, consider saying something else. The best alternative is to say “thank you”. For example, if you are late, when you finally arrive, instead of saying: “I am sorry I am late”, say “thank you for waiting for me”. It is positive while saying “I am sorry” is a criticism of us. When we love ourselves, we do not criticize our behavior, we look for the positive in the situation. I am reminded of dogs that go belly up when they submit to dogs or someone they perceive as more powerful than they are. We have to start saying what we mean and mean what we say. I know many people who say “sorry” when they are being insincere, they have no intention of changing their behavior, they have learned that all they have to do is say “sorry” and their behavior is accepted.

The truth is we have to start communicating in ways where we acknowledge the being we are communicating with as well as not devaluing us. If we feel that we have to apologize for something, the only way that is meaningful is not to repeat that behavior. It does absolutely no good to keep repeating objectionable behavior and saying “sorry, sorry”. When we do that, we lose our credibility. “Sorry” is the mantra of addicts and alcoholics. If you intend to make things right, the only way to do that is to never repeat the offending actions.

There is nothing more self-destructive than an insincere apology. If you are chronically late, you will permanently damage a relationship by thinking that saying “sorry” is all you have to do. That person will eventually drop you like a rock because they will begin to doubt your sincerity and not believe you. When we begin to use “sorry” as a panacea, as a cure-all for unacceptable behavior, our relationships will deteriorate quickly. When we use “sorry” to avoid taking responsibility and being authentic, we quickly lose credibility.

So we need to look for more positive, more authentic ways to acknowledge what we are doing and taking responsibility for our actions. Make a list of the things you chronically say “sorry” for. Being late, interrupting, being abusive, getting drunk or high, inappropriate language or behavior, the list goes on and on. When we look to acknowledge the pain or hurt we have caused, we begin to be more conscious about the consequences of our actions. Instead of saying “I am sorry I am late”, consider saying “Thank you for being patient.” Instead of saying “I am sorry I lost my temper”, say “thank you for understanding I am under a lot of stress and I acted inappropriately.” Instead of saying “I am sorry and I will never do that again”, say “thank you for standing by me when I am acting irresponsibly.” It is all about being accountable and taking responsibility.

In fact, every time you are tempted to say “sorry”, say “thank you”. How you put it into the context of what is happening is up to you. Instead of saying “Sorry I am a disappointment”, say “thank you for having hope for me”. Instead of saying “Sorry for wasting your time”, say “thank you for spending your time with me”. Instead of saying “Sorry I am not making sense”, say “thank you for listening”.

On the flip side, never say you are sorry for being you. Express it, shout it, climb up on the rooftops and exclaim it. Many times we are being authentic and real and it threatens someone. When they confront you with it we say “sorry” because we are afraid they will not like us. Well BS on that. You can say “thank you for your opinion” but never say “sorry”. When we say “sorry” when we haven’t done anything wrong we limit ourselves and put ourselves into a box that we may never crawl out of. Acknowledging the other person will always pay off, belittling yourself never will. So make this happen, be thankful, not sorry.