Going into my freshman year of high school, I got a job at the new and trendy retail store in my town. Two of my friends at the time also wanted a job there and tried to harass me into getting them hired. 

It was a Sunday, and I was on the way home from lunch with my mom when my phone flooded with manipulative texts from these girls in a group chat. I picked up the phone and called them, explaining that I could not help them. Instead of being understanding, they got mad and were mean. I replied by saying, “I’m sorry! I don’t even know what I did?” over and over again. 

I will never forget what happened next. My mom pulled the car over, looked me dead in the eye & firmly said, “Hallie, hang up the phone.” She said, “Don’t you EVER apologize for something that you should not be apologizing for & DO NOT apologize if you don’t know what you did wrong.  ‘Sorry’ is a powerful word. DO NOT use it lightly.” Then she proceeded to drive home. 

I used to have something that I call a “sorry problem.” I would apologize for everything, even for things that I didn’t do and wasn’t aware of. I used the word “sorry” so often that it was hard for people to believe me when I was actually sorry. If you do this, know that you are not alone.  

When I overuse “sorry,” it reinforces feelings of low self-worth & self-depreciation. I actually feel like a sorry person. When I choose to rephrase and come from a place of gratitude, I feel more confident and secure, and I can still make amends. Instead of saying, “sorry for being late,” I can say, “thank you for your patience.” Changing the context allows me to express appreciation for the other person instead of condemnation of myself. 

(See photo below).

Graphic Art by Hallie Belle Sheinbaum

Saying “sorry” is important, but it has its place. Know what you should apologize for. If you are clearly at fault, then own up to it and apologize sincerely. 

I view the word “sorry” like I view the phrase, “I love you” —Vulnerable, loaded with deep emotional value. So I try only to use them when I honestly mean them.  Being thoughtful and authentic with your words will make them more powerful and meaningful when spoken.

Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, and no one expects you to be perfect. A good barometer is always to check your intentions. If you have good intentions and genuinely try to do the right thing, it is understandable if we make mistakes along the way. 

Apologizing does not make you more likable or respectable. It reinforces a belief that you are inherently worthy of blame & presents as a sign of weakness. YOU ARE NOT WEAK! So stop saying sorry. ❤️

P.S. It’s not easy to suddenly shift your behavior, but give it a try.  The words we choose are powerful, and a change can be VERY empowering!

Graphic Art by Hallie Belle Sheinbaum

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