A few months ago, I embarked on a personal experiment to eliminate my excess use of “I’m sorry.” I started because I saw a big discrepancy when asking myself the questions below:
I made a mental note any time I used the phrase. I figured I probably said it two to three times a week. The reality? I was apologizing daily, for things both miniscule and beyond my control. I said “sorry” when my boss was late, when the elevator doors closed too fast on a coworker, and even when a high level executive bumped into me. That was a new low. At the time, I was struggling to appropriately assert myself in the workplace while still maintaining the role of “pleasant assistant.”
I began my experiment with the hopes of altering how my superiors perceived me at work. Yes, I’m polite and yes, I’m nice. But I’m no doormat, and I didn’t want to be perceived as one professionally.
After a month of heightened apology awareness, I had a big “a-ha!” moment that seems obvious in retrospect. I realized that this experiment isn’t about shifting other people’s perceptions. Focusing on what other people thought was exhausting. I wanted to limit my unnecessary apologies because I hated how they made me feel. Besides, the way other people treat me is largely a side effect of my own, greater internal shift.
Once my motivation shifted inwards, I continued the experiment from a more energizing, self-honoring place. I was going to stop apologizing all the time so that I could feel more present, empowered and authentic in my interactions.
I now choose to respond differently based on various situations:
I've made a lot of progress, but I'm not finished yet. It’s going to take a while to fully unravel a habit I’ve had for years. It’s an ongoing experiment for sure, but one that's proving to be incredibly empowering and worthwhile.
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