Not sorry!

Can the words we speak impact our wellbeing? Words have energy and when you use them, their energy affects us and anyone to whom we say them. It puts a new emphasis on watching what we say!

A few years ago, I did an introductory course on Kinesiology and was surprised by one of the exercises the presenter got us to try. We held one of our arms out straight and said certain words out loud while another participant pushed down on our arm. They were instructed to press down as hard as they could.

We discovered two things:

  1. When we spoke some words, our outstretched arm held strong and the other participant could not get us to lower it, no matter how much they pressed.

  2. When we spoke others, the other participant could force us to lower our arm, no matter how hard we tried to keep it up.

This exercise demonstrated the power of words on our physiology. When our connection with the word was positive, we could maintain the strength in our outstretched arm. When the connection was negative, we were weakened despite our efforts to maintain its position.

For many of us, the word “sorry” zapped our energy and our arm relinquished to the pressure applied by our partnering participant in the exercise.

However, when we substituted the word “apologise” we found we could keep our arm outstretched without additional effort on our part.

If you look at the meaning of these two words, they appear to be similar. However, “sorry” is an adjective, a descriptive word which describes how WE are feeling. The word “apologise” is a verb, an action word. We are telling the person we are speaking to, that we are taking action.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

These words were a catchphrase based on a line from the Erich Segal novel Love Story and was popularised by its 1970 film adaptation starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. When I heard the phrase, I thought it was a little bit lame. In fact, Ryan O’Neal makes fun of the phrase in a film released in 1972, where he starred with Barbara Streisand in What’s Up Doc?

The above paragraph, aside from showing my age, demonstrates to me the same point about the energy of words. Why would we use a word that zaps us energetically and sounds pretty lame, when we can demonstrate that we are taking responsibility for our actions by apologising when we have made a mistake, which caused harm or distress to another person.

Before I discovered this about the word “sorry” I also became aware of the number of times I was using it ever day. I would say it at the beginning of a sentence when I needed to express something. I used it as I moved through a crowded room and wanted someone to move out of the way. I used it regularly, every day and in situations where I had no reason to! Each time I spoke it, I depleted my energy and kept myself in a space of disempowerment. No wonder I always felt exhausted!

I now choose to use the word “apologise” mindfully when I want to be accountable for my actions. A far more empowering experience.

I offer this insight to awaken you to the importance of knowing about the words you use. When you realise that the very words you speak can drain your energy, you can choose to use another more empowering word instead.

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