I was thinking recently about apologizing. No, not making an apology, but the act of saying “I'm sorry”. I asked myself how many times a day I apologize and are my apologies real or reflexive? The answer I came up with was probably what cause my subconscious to elevate this thought in the first place.
I found that a majority of apologies during a given day were reflexive. That is, I say I'm sorry, but I'm not really. I just say it as a reflexive response to something. This means that most of my apologies do not carry any weight, which further reduces the weight of real apologies. I also found that I will turn to an apology for very small, trivial things.
All this thinking and reflecting has caused me to make a preemptive new year's resolution: Acknowledge my mistake and turn apologies into promises of improvement.
As a small example, I have the bad habit of leaving my dirty dishes next to the sink instead of rinsing them and putting them in the dishwasher. My wife gets annoyed and points it out over and over. Normally, I would say “Sorry” and do what I was supposed to do… then I would repeat next time. This apology and action were reflexive.
With this new resolution, I would need to consciously think about not apologizing, but instead examine my actions and focus on how I could improve myself in the future. So in the situation above, instead of apologizing I might say, “You're right, that is annoying. I will try harder to remember to rinse and put away my dishes.”
This also got me thinking about other reflexive phrases I use or that people use on me. Here are a few that I came up with. Add your own in the comments.
- How are you?
- What have you been up to?
- It was nice meeting you[, too].
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