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:
- 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.
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?
YES, PLEASE, ABSOLUTELY!
Your turn: Is it just me or can you relate? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’m really curious!
Peace & proper vocabulary,