People apologize a lot. The two simple words, “I’m sorry” have become so natural to people that the real meaning has been lost. People feel that they do a greater amount of things ‘wrong’ and experience the need to say sorry for them. If you’ve noticed that this applies to your life, it’s time to take back “sorry” and reserve it for the times when it’s really needed.
- Sometimes we apologize for things beyond our control – like bad weather during a party we’re hosting.
- Sometimes we apologize when someone else was actually in the wrong – when a waiter brings us food not cooked to our specifications, for example.
- And sometimes we apologize for life choices we have every right to make – like the decision to change jobs, or end a relationship.
Often, we apologize because we worry too much about what other people think, or because we put their feelings above our own needs. There are many situations where an apology is unnecessary.
25 Things You Should Never Apologize For
Unless you’ve done something that’s truly wrong, you don’t owe anyone an apology. Here are 25 things you should never apologize for, even if you think you should.
1. For saying “NO”
Respecting your own limitations is a sign of self-respect. If you cannot give 100 percent to something you should never apologize for saying no. The ability to say no is a sign of a strong personality.
Saying no can be difficult, especially if you’re used to being accommodating or helping people out. If something just point-blank isn’t possible, you shouldn’t feel like you have to apologize constantly for the fact that you’re saying “nope”.
2. For sitting down
You’re damn tired. Take a seat. Life is tricky, and wanting to rest rather than power through pain or exhaustion isn’t a sign that you’re ‘weak’. It’s self-care.
3. For loving someone
Celebrate the fact that you are able to love. There are many people in the world too scared to take a chance on love in the first place. It doesn’t matter who you love or if they love you back. The fact that you can love is what’s important.
4. For your appearance
When we jump into mea culpas for, say, looking tired, having a bad hair day, or wearing an outfit that causes stares, we’re really expressing a lack of self-compassion. You are who you are. Why would an apology be necessary for what you look like?
Unless you roll into the office in sweatpants and a food-stained T-shirt or flagrantly flout the dress code required of a certain situation, attempting to atone for who you are and how you decided to style your hair today is positively uncalled for.
5. For your failures
We all have tons of times when we have failures in life because that’s part of trying new things and finding out areas we need to improve in.
For example, let’s say you’re starting a new business. If your business fails, you don’t need to apologize. Just recognize what went wrong and figure out how to correct it the next time around.
6. For wanting more
There is a fine line between greed and a healthy desire for more. We are creatures of constant evolution, we change and grow. Our goals are what power these changes. Without desire, there would be no progress.
7. For taking up space
You should never have to say “sorry” for taking up physical space with your body, or emotional space with your needs. It’s your right to occupy space in the world.
8. For following a dream
A life lived with regret is yours to miss. Never apologize for following a dream because that dream makes you who you are. You will never fulfill happiness unless you live your dreams instead of dreaming your life.
9. For needing ‘me time’
People vary in the amount of personal space they need to get through the day. People experiencing anxiety, for instance, may need more than others. So, it’s critical to our well-being that we request the room necessary to mentally breathe, even if that means turning down a friend for a workout or a date here and there.
If you feel guilty for requesting some ‘me time’, you’re probably overthinking things. There’s also no harm in requesting a rain check if you really do want to see the pal you’re cancelling on.
And if the person to whom you’re speaking gets pissed? Provided you’ve respectfully expressed a desire to be alone, that reaction’s definitely coming from their issues, not yours.
What to say instead of sorry: “I gotta just chill tonight,” or “what I need for me tonight is to just be quiet” or “I need to be by myself.”
10. For asking questions
You should never be afraid to ask questions. How else would you know how to do something? If you have a question, don’t apologize for it. Even if you’ve already asked the question before.
For example, don’t say, “Sorry to make you repeat yourself, but how do you … ?” Just come right out with it and ask the question.
Of course, some of you may want to acknowledge the fact that the person is repeating themselves, which is fine.
In this case, you could say something like, “I know you said this, but I was wondering if you could repeat it so I can make sure I really understand it?”
Notice that there was no apology in there. Why? It’s unnecessary.
11. For your past
Your past is just that. It’s your past. Own it and learn from your past but move on. Everyone makes foolish mistakes, but as long as it’s not part of who you are today and you’ve forgiven yourself for your mistakes, it shouldn’t be on your list of things to apologize for.
12. For not going out
Sometimes you just want to stay in and do something at home, rather than ‘having the experience of a lifetime’ at some club or other. It’s OK if your friends are disappointed, but your choice is your choice.
13. For ending a toxic relationship
You should never say that you are sorry for letting go of someone who hurts you. Understanding an unhealthy relationship holds you back from reaching your full potential is a huge step forward. Be proud and surround yourself with people who celebrate your courage.
14. For not responding immediately to a text, call, or email
We can’t always get back to a loved one or colleague immediately. Unless there’s an emergency (and usually you can tell), apologizing for taking more than a split second to reply can make an issue out of something that might not have been a big deal to begin with.
Plus, it may send the message that our own agendas are less important than those we’re responding to. Not true and not cool. People appreciate the confirmation that you’re aware of their needs, Flagg says. Just don’t ever forget that you have needs too.
Successful people understand that prioritizing sometimes means a delay in responding to emails and phone calls. Never apologize for not putting someone’s email or text on a back burner while you take care of more important things.
15. For not knowing the answer
The constant quest for knowledge keeps our brains young. Never say you’re sorry when presented with an opportunity to learn. Being able to admit you do not know is a sign of strength and humility.
16. For saving money
Financial self-care is an under-appreciated aspect of self-care. There’s no need to be apologetic because you want to make sure you’re OK for rent this month, or don’t want to go to that bachelorette’s weekend.
17. Your opinion
You are entitled to your opinion. No one can take that away from you. If you have an opposing viewpoint than someone else, don’t apologize for this. Don’t change your opinion just to please others.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that there are times when you should keep your opinion to yourself.
18. For telling the truth
Strong people tell the truth. Never apologize for being strong. Even if the truth hurts, the benefits of honesty far outweigh the initial sting of the truth.
Be true to who you are and don’t worry about what other people think. Over apologizing or saying I’m sorry when it’s not necessary reduces self-esteem over time. Save “I’m sorry” for when you actually make a mistake.
19. For not giving into other people’s expectations
You are your own person and the opinions and expectations of others should never restrict you from doing what you know is right for you. Don’t let others slow you down, don’t let their judgments get you down. Stand tall and have faith in your particular path but ignore the opinions of others – striking the balance is key.
20. For your imperfections
Imperfections are what make you beautiful and unique. They should be embraced. Never say you’re sorry for a quality that makes you imperfectly perfect.
21. For being a newbie
Every great chess master was once a beginner. Never apologize for lack of experience. Instead, share your Learning Plan; demonstrate your dedication to lifelong learning and practice becoming the world’s expert at learning from your experiences.
22. For being early for an appointment
In the history of Corporate America, no employee has ever been fired for consistently arriving ten minutes early to every meeting.
23. For growing up privileged
As long as you scrap the entitlement attitude, remain grateful for everything you’ve ever been given and respect the life situation of those who are less fortunate, it’s all-good.
24. For delegating
Part of self-care is using your time efficiently, without you having to take on undue stress. Is there something on your to-do list that should be handled by a coworker, or your partner, or your sibling? Hand it off to them — just be mindful that they might later ask the same of you.
25. For changing and growing
Making new habits? Leaving old friends and stomping grounds behind? Naturally evolving into a different person? Not something to apologize for. It happens; you’re not the same person you were ten years ago, or even one year ago (and typically, that’s a good thing).
When it’s all said and done, the best advice is to be true to yourself and don’t worry too much about what other people think. Over apologizing or saying I’m sorry when it’s not warranted can reduce your self-esteem over time and can alter how others perceive your level of confidence. In short, say, “I’m sorry” for when you actually made a mistake.
Apologizing when we’ve clearly hurt someone else, violated a rule, or done something we know to be wrong is a necessary step in repairing the social fabric that keeps us connected to other people.
But saying sorry for stuff we aren’t responsible for not only invalidates us and reinforces feelings of low self-worth, it can trivialize the act of apologizing and give others the impression we’re less capable.