This weekend I had the great fortune to visit one of my dearest friends, Renu. U2 and Beck were playing a concert in Detroit, and she lived nearby, so we thought it would be a great reason to get together (the show was amazing-highly recommend!) We have been friends since we were in first grade, and she was my college roommate for four years. After college we went our separate ways as friends often do to get jobs, get married, etc. I arrived at the airport to see her waiting for me and I could not have been happier to see her–it has probably been at least six years since we were in the same room together. We headed off to her car to grab some dinner.
We exchanged pleasantries and caught up a little bit on what we were doing, and intermingled with the conversation were several apologies. Apologizing to the airport ticket taker that she only had a 20 dollar bill, apologizing to no one in particular that we were walking across an aisle in the parking lot. It caught me a bit off guard as this woman has an advanced degree, has been married for 15 years with two beautiful children, and writes a blog about tax policy. She is simply amazing, and to hear these words continuously tumble out concerned me. So when we got into the car, I relayed an article I had read on changing the apologizing into gratitude.
It works like this – instead of apologizing for only having a 20 dollar bill, you thank the attendant for taking it. Instead of apologizing for walking in front of a stopped car, you thank them for waiting. I find just writing about it changes the tone of the situation True to her nature she listened to my story and said she would give it a try.
You may have already identified yourself as a chronic apologizer just from my examples. If you do, I hope you will give gratitude a try. I think you will discover that not only do you feel better, but the person you are thanking feels better too. It strengthens the relationship and portrays the “thank-er” as confident and empowered.
I was looking for more information on turning apologies into gratitude, and several times I came across a series of cartoons by artist Yao Xiao. I think they perfectly illustrate how showing gratitude is so much more rewarding than apologizing. Of course there are times when an apology is necessary, so don’t totally throw the concept out the window!
As you read the examples below, notice how you feel, and keep in mind that you are worthy, you are important, and you matter. Moving from apologies to gratitude is truly transformative.
Source of drawings: www.boredpanda.com
Yao Xiao’s website: http://www.yaoxiaoart.com/