We all have a deep-rooted calling to feel happy. To love ourselves unconditionally and to embrace all the nooks and crannies that make us unique.
For me, that means knowing that I need peace of mind like I need oxygen. I need unstructured time like I need water. Contentment and less stress boost my immune system more than green juice.
And yet I often get lost in my to-do list, complain about too many commitments and align myself with people who give me more headaches than joy. I’ve caught myself saying things like, “once I’m over this hump I’ll have more breathing room.” But here’s the thing about humps: There’s always another one on the next hillside. And humps hump. Yes, you read that correctly. They breed like rabbits!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my mouth moves before my brain thinks. And as we all know, words are powerful. So as part of my peace-of-mind plan, I’ve decided to examine my language. Especially the use of the following words: Sorry. No. Thank you.
Harmless, helpful words, right? Yet their misuse can slowly drain our self-worth, damage our relationships and cause us to take on misplaced responsibility, while also watering down their meanings. Consciousness takes practice, so let’s dive in.
There are right times to be sincerely sorry, without question. A meaningful and complete apology is true heart medicine, a 1000-mg dose. And it’s our job to supply it when we mess up. Doing so helps us both.
But there are also unnecessary times to apologize, like when you catch yourself handing out knee-jerk sorrys for who you are, the dreams you have for your life, or for not being able to give more than you have without depleting your own precious energy reserves.
Remember, while it’s super important to be compassionate and keep your side of the street clean, what other people think of you is ultimately none of your business (at least that’s what my therapist tells me, lol!). You can’t please everyone. So for me, it’s important to own my mistakes, but not take on other people’s stuff that has nothing to do with me. And to speak my truth when needed, rather than just trying to apologize my discomfort away.
Here are some examples of times I’ve apologized for no reason…
- When I was afraid to ask for what I needed.
- When I had to make a boundary but I was really uncomfortable.
- When I needed to stand up for myself or the people (and animals) I love.
- When I was vulnerable and put my desires out there.
- When I said no to the telemarketer who repeatedly called (during dinner—even when I asked to be taken off the list).
Sorry slip-up flashback:
When I launched KrisCarr.com, a disgruntled reader let me know that not only did she not like my new design, she also didn’t like my smile. Huh? In her mind, my site was too flashy, and I had no business advertising my own books (perhaps she works for free, but I can’t). As for my smile, it was way too big and therefore not authentic. Naturally I was hurt and pissed! Unnaturally I responded with something like “I’m so sorry you feel that way, I am proud of my new website and the work I do.” While I’ve always responded to negativity by either taking full responsibility when needed, ignoring it or blasting it with a fire hose of sunshine, did I have to say sorry? No. Was I sorry? Heck NO. No need to apologize. Oh, and did I stop smiling that day? Nope! Ain’t gonna happen. 🙂
Sorry isn’t a band-aid or a replacement for a backbone.
Sorry isn’t a way to keep the peace at the expense of your self-respect or well-being.There’s a difference between true remorse and a fear of being judged. Sweet friend, don’t say sorry if there’s nothing to be sorry for. Because I don’t know about you, but when I mindlessly vomit apologies, I’m often left feeling like a powerless doormat. Yuck. Get off the floor.
I know that many of you can relate to this next one. It’s something I still struggle with, big time. I have a long history of not of saying no when I need to and instead turning my life into a constipated pretzel with an automatic yes response.
I’ve said yes when I should have said no because…
- I hate to let people down.
- I want everyone to be happy.
- I underestimate how long projects will take, and I fail to prioritize my time.
- I disregard my health and think I have more energy than I actually do.
- I forget that my needs matter—that I matter as much as the other person.
Naughty no-no flashback:
Once upon a time, I agreed to a speaking engagement on a cruise ship. Sounds breezy, right? Not for me. I get extreme vertigo on big boats that can last for months afterwards. So why on earth did I say yes? Several reasons, but mostly because the folks asking me were painfully pushy. They were strong about what they wanted, but was I? I wiggled. I put the answer off as long as I could but eventually caved and said yes. Then I immediately started to panic. How would I get through 10 days of physical pain? Answer: I couldn’t! A month later I finally mustered a no and pulled out of the gig. Of course, by waiting I caused undue stress for all. If I had been upfront and able to put my needs first, I would have saved us both a lot of grief. Lesson learned.
Saying yes can feel good, and often comes from a positive place. It means we care about other people, want to do good things and spread happiness in the world. It means we’re optimistic and believe in our abilities. Sadly, though, few of us can make every dream match the reality of only 24 hours in a day. As my brilliant bestie Marie Forleo has said, “Get on the No Train,” choo choo! While this may seem like obvious advice, how often are we consistent No Train conductors?
You can’t always “yes” your way out of a problem.
Think about my example. Mindlessly agreeing may temporarily avoid discomfort, but it’s often short-sighted and even lazy. Instead of setting a boundary, we slip into “yes” amnesia, forgetting we’ve been here before. In this delusional state, there’s unlimited time, superhuman energy and a gaggle of soul-nannies who keep us fed, bathed and exercised. Sober up, dear one! (I’m speaking to myself too.) Splash yourself with cold water and (gently) slap your cheek. If you’re worried about scarcity, let that go. Offers and opportunities will continue.
Remember that every unwanted yes takes you one step further from freedom, well-being, and time with yourself and loved ones. And every no leaves room for something glorious.