Why You Should Stop Saying Sorry (and What to Say Instead)

Why you should Stop Saying Sorry (and What to Say Instead)

It seems these days that we apologize for absolutely everything, even when it makes no sense to apologize. Have you noticed this? Some things make sense to apologize for: spilling you food all over your your friend’s carpet, hurting your partner’s feelings, or accidentally locking your cat down in the basement all day while you’ve been at work (guilty!) Other times, apologies are excessive and unnecessary, like saying “Sorry I spilled all over myself!” (right though?!) I mean, #sorrynotsorry is an actual hashtag that we use all the time. It is ingrained in us to apologize even when it isn’t warranted.

Let’s be real, friends. Have you ever uttered words like “sorry I’m so emotional,” when you actually meant to say “I’m sorry I yelled at you”? Or even better: “Thank you for being patient with me”? It’s time that we stop saying sorry for who we are as a person, and start saying thank you instead.

Stop apologizing for who you are and start being grateful instead. Click To Tweet

Why You Should Stop Saying Sorry (and What to Say Instead)

When you say sorry for who you are, it does two things: it A. damages your self-worth, and B. damages your relationships.

Saying Sorry Damages your Self-Worth

Each time you over-apologize, it impacts the way you feel about yourself. Friends, our words are so powerful, and our brains are sponges that thrive on repetition. So every time you say “Sorry I’m so dramatic,” or “Sorry I’m such a horrible person,” your brain starts to believe it, and you start to feel ashamed.

[Related: Mindfulness for Self-Confidence]

Saying Sorry Damages your Relationships

Real talk: I remember once while I was working in retail, a guest accidentally knocked a bunch of clothes off some hangers, and who apologized? My coworker. Even though it had absolutely nothing to do with her. And I still remember that years later because it colored my perception of her. I was now worried that she would feel bad for my actions and I felt like I needed to walk on eggshells around her as to not make her feel bad. When people apologize for things that don’t need an apology, or they apologize for who they are as a person, it can make others feel uncomfortable. And thus continues the cycle of guilt (Saying sorry, getting a strange reaction, feeling ashamed, apologizing, etc.)

[Related: How to Fearlessly Handle Confrontation]

Stop saying Sorry and Say Thank You Instead

If you’ve been following along with me, you probably know already that ya girl’s a big fan of gratitude! [ICYMI: The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude] Saying “thank you” has so many amazing effects. It helps you be less angry and depressed, improves self-esteem, strengthens relationships, and can even positively affect your physical health.

When you say “thank you,” it causes you to focus on the important things in life. Practicing gratitude helps you to recognize how much good is in your life, rather than paying attention to all the negatives. It helps you to recognize the good in you too!

When you tell someone “thank you,” it makes them feel appreciated and valued. It is less likely to cause conflict than apologizing. It improves others’ perceptions of you.

Say This, Not That

Next time you feel the urge to apologize, try saying “thank you” instead. Use these examples to inspire you.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I was late.
Say this instead: Thank you for waiting for me.

Instead of saying: Sorry I am always so busy.
Say this instead: Thank you for being flexible.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I’m so dramatic.
Say this instead: Thank you for accepting me for who I am.

X Instead of saying: Sorry for venting.
Say this instead: Thank you for listening to me.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I put extra work on you.
Say this instead: Thank you for helping me out.

Instead of saying: Sorry I am so complicated.
Say this instead: Thank you for understanding me.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I am so boring.
Say this instead: Thank you for spending time with me.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I am so negative.
Say this instead: Thank you for being a safe person to talk to.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I’m sad all the time.
Say this instead: Thank you for helping me feel better.

X Instead of saying: Sorry I’m not good enough.
Say this instead: Thank you for helping me become a better person.

Instead of saying: Sorry I suck.
Say this instead: Thank you for loving me even when I don’t love myself.

Have you tried to stop saying sorry and started saying “thank you” instead? What happened? Let me know!

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Why you should Stop Saying Sorry (and What to Say Instead)

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  • Ashley Millar

    I absolutely love this and 100% agree! Just the other day I was thinking that often when we say, I’m sorry, we actually just mean “excuse me.” But I love that you’ve turned it around to say Thank You instead! Pinning!

  • Elizabeth Colette

    I think this is great. I know I say I’m sorry way too much. I’m going to try and use some of your other suggestions instead!

  • Andrea Lyons Schwartz

    Good stuff! I so agree with saying thank you, instead of I’m sorry. I’m going to try and incorporate this in my day to day interactions!

  • Samantha

    I love this! I’m a big apologizer, but I think it would make everyone feel better if I said these things instead. This is just brilliant! Thank you!

  • April Kitchens

    I need to screen shot this!! I’m always apologizing and I don’t even know why. My friends appreciate me and I know they don’t need to hear me apologize all the time.

    • Hey April! Glad to hear it helped! Let me know how you feel when you start making the switch 🙂

  • Honey Lansdowne

    I agree that saying sorry damages self esteem and I love your list of alternative things to say

  • WOW. Yes. Gosh, I needed this like you have no idea. Love the flip and change in approach here – makes a huge difference for all involved!

  • Vivienne Veronica McLemore

    As women we tend to apologize too much. Or at least that’s what I’ve noticed is that women are always apologizing. But of course sometimes an apology is warranted. Thanks for the list of when it isn’t.

  • brittany

    I absolutely love all of your examples you’ve given! They are so beautiful and the perfect substitution.

  • I loveeeee this! I love the examples you gave of what to say instead! Honestly, I was raised to always be apologizing, and found that people used it against me later in life to shift their shame/blame onto me since they knew I would apologize haha! I am more than willing to take ownership when things go wrong, but I’m not going to apologize for stuff others do and always saying sorry left the impression I would!

    • You know, I ALMOST included a part about over apologizing leading to people taking advantage, but at the last second decided not to. I too grew up apologizing for everything and it is still something that I catch myself doing sometimes. But I also had a great experience once where I intentionally didn’t apologize and it led to really really great things! Remind me to tell you sometime in a more private setting 🙂

  • Candy Kage

    I would disagree somewhat, but I see what you are saying. Sometimes saying sorry is appropriate and people don’t apologize for their mistakes enough. Once is enough to say I’m sorry.

    • Oh for sure. I certainly wasn’t implying that you shouldn’t apologize when it’s actually warranted. In fact, quite the opposite. 🙂

  • Veronika

    Hmm, interesting post. The examples really made it easier to understand what you mean. Definitely made me think!

  • WhitneyJones&JulieTyler JonesT

    I love your advice here. It syncs with my own experiences. When I’m at my lowest, “sorry” is my go-to word. Replacing “sorry” with “thank you” is BRILLIANT. It’s a very cognitive behavioral strategy. –Whitney

    • Ah yeah well, ya know. I’m a cognitive behavioral therapist 😉 It come naturally! But in all seriousness, thank you! I’m glad that this resonated with you so well!

  • Taylor Smith

    I totally agree. I say sorry WAY TOO MUCH.

  • Molly

    I love this!! Brilliant! I’m going start doing his NOW!

  • This is so great!! I say sorry out of habit. This one lady was being a complete beeeeotch. I asked her a simple question, Would you mind taking a picture of my husband and me? She snarked back, ‘I’m busy working.’ BUT…. she wasn’t at all. She wasn’t doing anything. I said, Oh I’m sorry. I should’ve been like, Ummm okay and walked away.

    • Yikes that sounds awful! I totally know where you’re coming from though. I always feel weird asking people to take pictures for me when I’m out or on vacation. That’s awful that she treated you that way!

  • Corey Wheeland

    I love this idea. I am a chronic “I’m sorry” person…

  • I love this! I say sorry all the time and there have been so many times that I’ve wondered why I’m apologizing… but I do it anyway.

  • What a wonderful reminder. I am definitely in the apology boat all the time. I love your suggestion of turning the “sorry” into “thank you.” I’d never thought about that before, but it makes so much sense. Thank you!

  • I love this post. I am going to start keeping this in mind. It takes the attention off of self and shows that you appreciate others.

    • Thanks Ivanna! I agree! I think saying “thank you” is a lot more courteous and thoughtful than “sorry”

  • This is so awesome. I love how just reframing the way we say things makes such a difference. Saying thank you instead of sorry is much more positive…I really like that!

  • What a great way to substitute all of the “sorrys!” I definitely need to try this more!

  • Babies to Bookworms

    I love the suggestions on what to say instead! It really made me think about how often I say sorry.

  • Taylor Smith

    These are great way stop substitute sorry. I know I personally say it way too often!!!!

  • You’re welcome Merry! Glad to help!

  • This is PHENOMENAL. Wow. I can think of so many people off top of head who just say sorry for EVERYTHING and these “thank you” phrases would be great, fitting substitutes!

    Coming Up Roses

  • This subject is also on my mind. I’ve started to notice when I want to say “I’m sorry” on an autopilot. And like you write – it’s how we were raised but not good for our self-worth.
    “Never complain, never explain” as Churchill was saying. It’s true and powerful. Because in this approach I take the responsibility for my actions and results.