If you’re anything like me, you apologize far too often, and most of the time, when you haven’t done anything wrong.
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.
We’re wired to seek a sense of belonging, and we fear being ostracized from our tribe, so many of us lean toward excessive contrition to ensure we’re still in people’s good graces.
We may also apologize because we’re highly sensitive to other people’s feelings, and we want to ensure we haven’t unintentionally caused them pain.
Particularly if you were abused at some point, it can feel imperative to express remorse for potential slights and offenses, since this could minimize the risk of retaliation. But by doing this, we’re undermining ourselves and reinforcing a sense of guilt and subservience.
It’s admirable to apologize when we’ve genuinely done something wrong, or even if we believe we inadvertently hurt someone else. But there are certain choices we need to own, and need never apologize for.
Since this topic has been on my mind lately, I decided to ask Tiny Buddha Facebook followers this question a couple weeks back:
What’s one thing we should never apologize for?
More than 2,000 people responded, many with variations of the same ideas. Below is a short list of the ones I found most compelling.
You Never Have to Apologize For…
1. Removing someone from your life that repeatedly crosses your boundaries. ~Bonnie Romano
2. Being who we are, and feeling our feelings. ~Courtney Redd-Boynton
3. Trusting your instincts, even if you can’t explain it. ~Kate Willette
4. We should never apologize if we’re not truly sorry. I don’t believe in apologizing because someone ‘demands’ an apology. ~Olga Baez Rivera
5. Quality “me” time (taking care of ourselves). ~Nath Ray
6. Your opinion—there is no right or wrong opinion, and there’d be a lot less arguments if more people could just respect and appreciate different insights. ~Jennifer Werner Mader
7. Standing up for what you believe in. ~Michelle Galyon-Stallings
8. Living life the way we choose to, regardless of fitting in with other people’s norms. ~Tanya Johns Emery
9. Making decisions about your own future that don’t do any harm to anyone. No one should be made to feel guilty for trying to better themselves. ~Rebecca Killeen
10. You shouldn’t have to apologize for how you feel. You may need to apologize for how you act on your feelings, but never for being hurt, angry, sad, etc., and expressing how you feel. There’s a difference. ~NathanArisa Ferree
11. Being sensitive. I feel my feelings and I believe it’s hurtful when individuals are quick to tell someone to “get over it.” If we aren’t harming anyone, we all deserve to process our feelings in our own time frame and manner. ~Lori Mitchell
12. For being protective of our children and trusting our instincts as parents—especially when they’re not yet capable of advocating for themselves. ~Amitola Rajah
13. Having to grieve. Some people think there is a time limit or a timeframe. It could take a lifetime to accept someone we love passing away. ~Lisa Marie
14. Speaking the truth. It ain’t always pleasant, but better to know what’s really in someone’s heart than be fake! ~Kiran Sohi
15. Speaking up when someone has hurt us in some way. ~Karin Alberga
16. Fighting for the rights of animals. ~Linda Leppington
17. Taking a break and doing absolutely nothing for ten minutes. ~Christina Teresa
18. Being a free thinker and questioning everything even when it’s not the popular thing to do. ~Kathy Gildersleeve Wesley
19. Choosing what you think is best for your life. ~Kay West
20. Apologizing too much. ~Lori Deschene
Yes, I just quoted myself there. And what I wrote might seem a little ironic, considering the topic of this post. But I’ve realized that despite knowing I don’t need to apologize as often as I do, I may still fall into this habit at times. And I’ve decided that’s perfectly okay.
It’s okay that I sometimes experience anxiety about potential rejection. It’s okay that I’m insecure at times, and apologize to compensate. And it’s understandable, given my background, that I occasionally blame myself for things that aren’t my fault.
The whole point of learning to apologize less is to build confidence in ourselves and our choices, and that means embracing our humanity.
It’s human to struggle, and unless we’re hurting other people, there’s no need to apologize for it.
What’s one thing you’ve realized you don’t need to apologize for? Have you ever apologized for something on this list?
About Lori Deschene
Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..