"I'm sorry I forgot to pick up milk..."
"I'm sorry I messed up on scheduling our dinner reservation..."
Yikes. We've all heard these before.
And we all, too, at some point or another are late, forget something, or mess up on something important.
Usually our default response is to immediately jump to profusely apologizing for whatever it is.
While this is important, especially in terms of taking accountability and making it up to the person or situation you may have fallen short of in a particular moment, when it's steeped in endless guilt and self-shaming, then it just becomes uncomfortable for all parties involved.
Then neither you nor they can let the matter go, which can foster resentment and rumination.
Misery loves company, so if you can't forgive yourself in these moments, it can be hard for others to do so, too.
You don't want to be so consumed with what you've done wrong that you forget what others did right in your shortcomings.
By focusing on the latter, you can lift others up without putting yourself down and simultaneously learn from your mistakes so that whatever happened doesn't happen again.
Gratitude is contagious, so showering another with appreciation can help them, and you, to feel good.
Otherwise, not only are they stuck with your sorries like a broken record, but then they're tasked with cheering you up, too, when they likely aren't feeling pretty peachy themselves about the whole thing either.
So, what can you do the next time you find yourself in a situation where you need to apologize?
Stop saying "Sorry," try "Thank you" Instead
There are other ways to say "I'm sorry," and they can actually be phrased pretty effectively in the form of "Thank you"s. Focusing on appreciation for others in these situations can help to boost self-esteem rather than to erode it with the cyclical downward thinking that spirals from fixation on one's faults.
For example, to reframe the 3 statements at the start of this blog post, it could look something like this:
"I'm sorry I'm late to lunch..." --> "Thank you for your patience. I'm really looking forward to sharing this meal here with you now."
"I'm sorry I forgot to pick up milk..." --> "Thank you for the reminder. I'll make a note in my phone right now and pick up the milk the next time I'm out."
"I'm sorry I messed up on scheduling our dinner reservation..." --> "Thank you for your understanding. I'll call to correct that right now, and I'd love to share a romantic meal with a movie of your choice tonight."
When we redirect the focus from ourselves to others, and from a harsher negative tone to a lighter appreciative one, we can work to build each other up by focusing on our strengths. It leads to an acknowledgement of solutions, what we can do right now to fix the situation, rather than to an exacerbation of problems and getting stuck with inaction consumed by what we did wrong.
This helps us go from accusation to appreciation and moves us forward without wallowing in the now.
Excuses don't help. You can explain why you're sorry, but typically it goes over well to focus on the positives.
Fix what you can,
do better next time,
and work to be present and grateful in the moment.
Working on making this a regular and active process (thanking people, not making all these mistakes in the first place!) can over time help to boost confidence in yourself and recognition of the good in others.
Each slip-up becomes less of a personal attack and more of an opportunity to show love to the people in your life, to learn from what was to fix what is to then set up for greater success in what will be.
Interested in some self-care ideas to treat yourself with now that you've stopped drowning in all that self-blame? The Self Care Bucket List is filled with lots of ideas and activities you can use to appreciate yourself after showing the love to others!
Better yet, why not show your partner some love with the Couple's Bucket List?