BUILDING a GRATITUDE MINDSET: The Role of Apologies
Welcome to the easiest mindset tip ever:
- If you find yourself apologizing for small things – instead, thank people.
There’s a reason, but we’re going to get to that in a moment. First, I’m going to show it to you in action:
- I wake up, late. I realize I have a meeting in ten, and panic a bit as I throw on a robe and run downstairs to make my coffee, while messaging my client that I’m so sorry I’m going to be a moment late. She says it’s okay, and that I didn’t need to apologize, “it happens,” she says. As soon as my coffee is done, I get online and start our call. The first thing I do is apologize.
- I wake up, late. I realize I have a meeting in ten, and message my client to let her know I’m running behind. I thank her for her patience, and assure her that we’ll still have the same amount of time for her appointment, while I pop downstairs to make my coffee. As soon as I’m back at my desk, I start our call with another note of gratitude for her patience, before we get into our work for the day.These two are DISTINCTLY different scenarios, and here’s why.
The Role of Apologies
In the first one, I create a space where my client (or whoever I’m talking to) has room to feel pressured to make me feel better. It’s not usually intentional in any sense, a lot of us are simply conditioned to apologize profusely for things. It’s from our upbringing, or our region (I’m looking at you, Midwest United States), or our experience with men.
But one way or another, we find ourselves not even consciously choosing before we blurt out “I’m sorry” – for things that we didn’t even PROMPT.
When we apologize in this way for things that are exceptionally minor – being 5 minutes late, for example – it does several things. First, as I mentioned above it creates a space where the person you’re talking to may feel pressured to make you feel better. Not cool, big distraction, not what we want.
But it also dulls the apology when you ARE taking ownership of something you learned from in your experience. When you DO fuck up, and, you will… you want that apology to land firmly and be understood for what it is. We can talk about that more in depth later, though, because there’s another reason I want to touch on.
Replacing these with Gratitude
THANKING people focuses your mind, and theirs, on gratitude. On their positive attributes that have made your life easier – such as patience.
The theme for this week has accidentally been “things your brain looks for more of” – and I promise you, when you spend your time apologizing instead of being actively grateful, your brain will be looking for more things to be sorry for instead of things to be grateful for.
So this week, and next… and the next… when you’re faced with causing a minor inconvenience, THANK the person involved. “Thank you for understanding.” or “Thank you for your patience,” instead of giving them an apology for something so small.
After a while, you might even find that you’re beating yourself up less frequently for the little things that don’t matter, and spending your energy on more positive endeavors – like looking at the good in others.
When I first encountered this advice, that’s exactly what happened to me.