I recently went for a walk with a friend. She has two big dogs (maybe Huskies?) and at some point midway through the walk, they wanted to play with Lily but somehow they scared the s*** out of her. I mean scared her to the point that I literally had to drag her, because by the time this happened we were a good 1/2 mile from the car.

All the while, when we were walking, my friend’s dogs were pulling her and yanking and wanting to “visit” with Lily and the entire scene seemed so chaotic! But my friend, was so calm. She was not apologetic (and she didn’t need to be!). She just kept on walking and smiling and talking. I would have apologized a million times—but why? These were just dogs being dogs!

It was the most calming, chaotic experience I’ve had in a long time!

It made me think about how we, as westerners, (read: me) say “I’m sorry” way too much. I know for sure that I over-apologize, and often for things that aren’t my fault. I once said sorry to a trash can after walking into it. I mean really, Jessica?

I think we say sorry so often as a way to ease our mind because we’re often worried about other people’s opinions of us. The word now slips out of my mouth for every perceived slight I think I may have caused. But I’m coming to realize that so many apologies affects our view of ourselves.

As we were walking and talking about life, we both recognized that in different situations we are being held responsible for s*** that’s not our fault. In those situations (and for many of us) my initial reaction is to say “I’m sorry.” But maybe the better way to respond is to say “Thanks for telling me,” or “Good catch” or “Time to do better.” These words are more empowering and take the away pressure we put on ourselves for things we can’t control.

While we can and should apologize for past mistakes (and who defines mistakes as opposed to “best we could do at the time”?)—the past is the past. It cannot be changed and we each own our own process for moving forward and letting go. Either we choose to point fingers or we take a look at whether the narrative is really serving any good in our lives.

I think this new year I’m going to focus on my own opinion of myself, rather than how others perceive me. Consciously and immediately forgiving ourselves over everyday and past mistakes is a way to improve our state of mind and takes back control over our lives, which of course we all deserve to have. So today, instead of saying “I’m sorry” say, “I really do appreciate the feedback. It’s duly noted and I can do better.”

Enjoy your day everyone!