Kris Carr

Blog Post

Words to Use Carefully

Hiya Gorgeous,

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, 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.

Thank you.

Gratitude is one of the holiest ways to honor and connect with yourself and others. Saying thank you for a generous gift, kindness or favor is gracious. Repeatedly gushing thanks because you feel guilty or undeserving is not.

I’ve said thank you too much because…

  • I don’t feel deserving or worthy.
  • I feel guilty, uncomfortable or like something is wrong with me.
  • Love may never come again.
  • I don’t want to seem ungrateful, so I overcompensate.

Thankless thank you flashback:

During my actor/dancer period, I needed a loan to get through a rough patch. I borrowed the cash from a friend, and I insisted on a monthly payment plan. I was truly grateful. I always sent her my checks on time with a gushing note as an expression of thanks. Though I paid off my debt in the timeframe we established, I had a burning feeling that it was never enough. Years later we had a falling out for a different reason. And what do you think she hit me with? “You never appreciated the money I lent you.” I could have written a personalized thank you across the sky (with my blood), and it still wouldn’t have been enough. One thank you or a thousand made no difference. Clearly something much bigger was going on, and that something had nothing to do with me.

A heartfelt thank you is polite and loving. Becoming a thank you Pez dispenser is just plain toxic.

No one should hold you captive emotionally or treat you like a mooch. If you find yourself saying thank you too much, that might mean it’s time to re-examine the balance in your relationship. Perhaps they don’t deserve you. Look beyond your compulsion to say thank you and address the real issue or elegantly remove yourself from the drama. Bon voyage!

Wrapping it all up:

There’s a fine line between healthy and unhealthy use of language. It’s part of our spiritual journey to find our tipping points and gently adjust them.

When I get clear on the whys behind my sorrys, nos and thank yous, I get clear on who and what I need to embrace or release. I make room for more living and less second-guessing, more truth and less explaining, more relief and less regret.

Am I ready to live in that space more often?


Your turn: Is it just me or can you relate? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’m really curious!

Peace & proper vocabulary,

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  1. I love this, it really resonates. Thank you (really!) for sharing.

  2. Thank you Kris! No, seriously, thank you 🙂
    This hits right to the heart of the matter — feeling unworthy and not sure if we’re okay and good enough AS IS. I say, YES we are!
    I can completely relate to saying yes because I am too scared to say no. And I’ve had several cruise ship moments myself.
    This is my year to honor my goods and love myself always in all ways.
    If it’s hard for me to say no, I do the pledge of allegiance with my hand – (remembering my pledge to myself that is) and then I say NO.
    Keep rocking it Kris! Loving you in all ways!

  3. Mary Beth says:

    This (seemingly) simple advice is a powerful reminder! We need some good daily habits for healthy self esteem. This article is a like a nutrition packed green juice !! 🙂

  4. Samantha says:


    This is a fabulous reminder of when it’s appropriate to say Yes, No, Thankyou or Sorry. I know that I say yes at the expense of my needs and I say sorry too much (exactly the situations you mentioned). I’ll be working on whether saying yes detracts from my well being (and if it does, I will learn to say no), and whether a situation warrants a ‘sorry’.

    You rock… and incidentally, your website rocks and your smile is gorgeous… xxx

    Thanks again
    Samantha 🙂

  5. Jamie says:

    Thank you for articulating this so beautifully! One of my favorite sayings is “I’m not saying no to you, I’m saying yes to me.” But I often forget to practice that and easily slip back into my people pleasing tendencies. I’ve always been an over-apologizer, even when things aren’t my responsibility. As a super-busy gal (I own a yoga studio, am finishing up a masters in counseling, plus an internship!!) it’s so important to watch for energy leaks. These are three places where I can totally say yes to me and practice self-care. Thank you, Kris!

  6. Romy says:

    Brilliant! Can’t tell you how many flashbacks I’ve just had with all 3 points. Especially the “sorry” and the “thank you” often gives me a hard time. Especially if someone wants to give you something – well intentioned – but just not “my thing”. How do you get out of that situation gracefully and without hurting the other persons feeling? Or is that just sometime inevitable? Hmmm…. lots of food for thought. Thank you Kris.

  7. Becca says:

    I can totally relate!
    There was a period of time where I didn’t value myself as I should. And there are times where I revert back to that attitude. But saying sorry for things I did not do was my biggest tripper-upper. I.e. “I’m sorry you have the flu” I didn’t give them the flu! Shame shame.

  8. T.L. Parks says:

    I could improve the language I use, first off by hearing my feelings, and feeling my words. You are correct…when you say yes but mean no, you feel it on a bodily and emotional level. That misaligned yes or no will hurt ever slightly, if you are honest enough with yourself about how those words made you feel when you said it. To improve my language, I need to face my fears of loss and loneliness, and I need to encourage myself to remove the boundaries that I have placed in my life. As I honor myself, I can begin speaking words that come from my deep inner knowing and connection with the love and life that I choose to express.

  9. Jennifer Giuffre-Donohue says:

    As a cancer survivor myself, three years in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I wasn’t someone who knew how to say no before my diagnosis. It took cancer (and your book Crazy, Sexy Cancer) to wake me up and stop doing the things that I really didn’t want to do. Now if someone asks me something that I truly don’t want to do I tell them that I need some time to think about it. I don’t take long to let them know and if it’s something that really doesn’t sit right with me I just tell them that I can’t do it. It’s not always easy but I only try to give my energy to the things and people that I truly want to because another thing that cancer taught me was how precious our time really is.

  10. Karen Young says:

    Oh Kris! This one went straight to my heart, it was exactly what I needed to see today.

    Much Love,

  11. Sharon says:

    You are amazing. I thoroughly enjoy your emails and always find something that I can relate to. Thanks for putting a smile on my face and empowering my soul through your work.

  12. Sylvia says:

    You mirrored my thoughts exactly, so sometimes I think people want me to be sorry for not living up to their expectation. I want to be happy in my life and I will follow the guidelines of the universe. I will smile large when I’m happy
    And not try and stop the smile that starts at the bottom of my toes and works itself out in silly wonderful ways. The world needs more of you KC keep it up…….I will say thank you a million times but will from now on limit my I’m sorrys, because you are sooooooo right they take way, but I will thank someone for their opinion!!!!!!! Remember no one will do it for you! Sylvia

  13. Becky says:

    Love the post Kris! Thank you

  14. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this today, Kris! I’ve spent the past few weeks saying “thank you” for things that don’t deserve thanks, and saying “yes” to all the things I DON’T want to do – hoping to get attention and love from someone who clearly is not valuing me right now. It seems like the more I do for this person, the more I feel under appreciated, and then I find myself saying yes and thank you even more. What a silly cycle. Time to focus on me for awhile and my needs. No more thanks for nothings!!

    • T.L. Parks says:

      I’m sure that most people have dealt with this very same thing. Say thanks to yourself for at least recognizing that something doesn’t feel right. Your awareness is the beginning of you breaking the cycle. I bid you peace, luv & light!

      T.L. Parks

  15. Susan says:

    Just had a conversation with 6 friends last night around saying no. Its amazing what can come in when we make room for “yes”. Thanks Kris.

  16. Thanks for sharing Kris. I totally agree with saying sorry. There are certain occasions when we all have to say excuse me when we need to get past. The majority of responses I get are “oh I’m sorry” and say the exact same thing “Why are you sorry?” You have no reason to be, I just need to get past please! It does cause me unnecessary stress personally. I am learning to say “NO” more often now because I was always saying “YES!” to things. I just need to learn to take care of myself without wanting to please others. I to am learning NOT to say thankyou too much as well. You will come across some people who just like to hear it which can be very draining and others who accept you for you and naturally appreciate the things you do for them without the need for the accepting “THANKYOU” Great article and very enlightening.

  17. Diana says:

    Well said. This is exactly what I’ve been working on the past year or so and it’s made my life healthier and happier. Now to instill it in my 2 year old and 4 year old.

  18. A constipated pretzel! HA! I love it — somehow that is the perfect way to describe the bind I feel when I say YES to everything. This article really had serendipitous timing for me, as just yesterday I sent an “I’m so sorry but I just have to say No” message to a friend who offered me some freelance work. My New Year’s resolution to myself is to take better care of me, and part of that is saying NO to projects and making more time for my own endeavors and adventures. I succeeded in the “No”, but have been feeling guilty about it.

    For me, and many of us, I think the challenge is not just in learning how to say these words thoughtfully and authentically, but to really embody and trust what we’re saying, too — even after the fact.

    I’m working on feeling proud of myself for sticking to my bigger needs and desires, and not seeing the NO as a door closing, but rather a new pathway opening towards my deeper truth.

    Thank you, Kris, for helping me reinforce this important lesson and feel confident in my choices.


  19. Monette says:

    Hi Kris,
    I feel as if it was meant for me to read your post this morning. No such thing as coincidence so here I am.

    I’m guilty of over-thanking and over-apologizing and for the same reasons you mentioned. There’s always been that anxiety about offending anyone. In my family, I’ve always been known as the free-spirited one. I’m the artist and the one who was not quite together. Of course I’ve managed to keep it together over the years and I’ve been blessed with family and friends who are very supportive. But I did think of myself, albeit unknowingly, as inadequate in spite of whatever good I may have achieved.

    Of course that’s something I’ve begun to work on. It’s not always easy but I’m also the kind of person who chooses to be happy so that helps. I think many people forget that there’s always a choice. It’s not always evident, but when you do sit and look at things at a distance, the choices always present themselves.

    Stay well and happy!

    • Monette,

      Your words bring a little sting of tears to my eyes. I, too, am a free-spirited artist type, and I feel like I have been apologizing for my sensitive, creative nature my whole life. This morning I crave an environment where I am free to be myself and not judged as flaky. Now I’m realizing that I have internalized society’s view of me. If I can change my inner state, maybe I will feel more free. I can start by shifting my language to honor myself and my ways.

      Thank you for articulating this for me!

      • Kim says:

        I too am an artist. 22 years. Still grappling with confidence issues. Being judged… and beating off what people think of my choice. Bearing the guilt that somehow came (I let it, I know) with becoming and artist. Apologizing all over the place. I appreciate you both sharing your comments and insight and I will be rereading this post and this thread throughout the days to come. Peace.

        • Irene says:

          Stand proud in your artistic sensibilities and glories and never apologise for them. You have such beautiful times ahead!

  20. Marye says:

    Thank you for a nice reflexion. I was surprised to see t”thank you” in that list, and then reading I remembered a few times where I said thank you so many times that it was ackward, but yet I still felt the need to say thank you once again. And you’re right; it’s because I felt unworthy of it. Yet these people were trusting me, so maybe I should trust myself too, in these situations.

    As for “no”… I’m in one (or two) of these situations right now, and find it difficult to get out of it gracefuly, and it’s already too late for not causing trouble… Which means either case, I won’t feel good about it. A lesson to learn, I guess.

    I’ll pay special attention to these words this week, as an exercise.

    Thank you (I mean it!)

    • Kim says:

      I had a dog trainer ask me if I said “thank you” to the check out person at the grocery store. I do! All the time. It doesn’t make any sense. I try to catch myself and say something else- “have a good day” etc.. Funny thing is most of the time they don’t even say “thank you.”

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