Can you count how many times you’ve said “Sorry” today? Do you remember what for you said it?
Chances are you’ve said you’re sorry for many things that you don’t even remember doing.
Saying “I’m sorry” and apologizing for things that aren’t completely your fault is not a bad thing. It doesn’t make you weak or a pushover. On the contrary, the ability to apologize is a positive human trait.
It is one of the building blocks of emotional intelligence and reflects strong interpersonal skills. When you say you’re sorry, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re accepting blame for a situation.
Rather, it is a way of acknowledging that the other person was hurt in some way, regardless of whose fault was.
That said, there are things that you can say “I’m sorry” for that don’t require an apology.
There are some situations in life that can hurt or offend other people but that are necessary for your own happiness, personal growth, or self-esteem.
Making decisions or taking actions that hurt others doesn’t make you a bad person or uncaring. It shows that you care about yourself enough to make difficult choices when they are in your best interest.
Here 14 things you should never have to apologize for, even if you decide to say “I’m sorry.”
1. Making a positive change in your life or yourself.
Positive change should be rewarded, not punished. However, many people around you don’t want you to change, even if the change is clearly better for you. Good or bad, they want you to remain the same.
Why? Because it is easier for them. They know what to expect from you. They know how to respond to you and what can be asked from you. You are predictable, and the boundaries between you and them are quite clear, even if they are not always fair for both parties.
Therefore, stand firm in your right to change. It is not only your responsibility, but it’s your right as well.
Yes, some people will have a hard time to adjusting to change, but they can adjust eventually if they are willing. You can feel sorry that you’ve upset them, but you don’t need to apologize for making change that is right for you.
2. Leaving behind people who don’t allow you to change.
It is a big thing to ask someone to adjust to your life changes. However, those that stubbornly insist on keeping you tied to the status quo don’t deserve a place in your life.
Their anger, passive aggressive behaviors, or disappointment in you will only undermine your relationship and make you feel resentment.
Don’t apologize for letting go of people who are unwilling to bend with your changes. Move on, but leave your door open in case they have a change of heart in the future.
Just as you have grown and changed, they might also.
3. Being who you are.
To become the person you are today, you had to expend a lot of energy, hardship, work, passion, dedication, and love.
Who you are today rests on your past experiences, and some of those experiences may not reflect the best in you. We are all in the process of “becoming,” and part of that process means we make mistakes along the way.
You may not be the person you want to be right now, but that’s OK because you are a work in progress. You are fine just the way you are — even if you aren’t perfect.
You don’t need to apologize for who you are. Have compassion for who you are today, and allow yourself to be even better tomorrow.
4. Saying “No” to things that are harmful to you or your interests.
You are allowed to stand up for yourself. You can be assertive and say “No,” even if it offends other people.
You don’t have to follow along or accept a situation simply because someone wants you too — especially if your safety, well-being, or integrity might be jeopardized. Remember that you are the guardian of YOU.
It’s fine to say you’re sorry you’ve disappointed someone, but you never need to apologize for saying, “No.”
Being a good person doesn’t mean to give in every single time or to put your interests second.
5. Putting an end to unhealthy relationships.
When someone is poisoning your life, let them go quickly and move on.
Get out of the relationship and have no regrets or guilt about it.
You deserve to have people in your life who love, appreciate and respect you — people that make you feel good and bring out the best in you.
It can be very painful to let go of someone who was once a big part of your life. Knowing that you’ve hurt another person by releasing them from your life can make you feel so guilty that you want to beg their forgiveness.
But you don’t need to apologize for rescuing yourself from a bad connection with someone. You can feel sorry for for the hurt your decision has cause the other person, but you don’t need to take the blame for doing something necessary for your own mental health.
6. Taking a break.
There is only so much you can give.
So much energy, attention, caring, time and patience. Sometimes you get tired, and you need same time off.
Take it without reservation!
Apologizing for taking a break is suppressing your power to recharge. Take a moment to breathe and reenergize, rather than consuming yourself with feelings of guilt about not being enough or good enough.
7. Taking your time to give an answer.
We live in a culture with little patience and a high demand for quick action and fast decisions.
People expect you to answer questions, emails, and offers on their timetable rather than your own. They want their priorities to become your priority.
This makes you feel pressured to make a premature decision about something you haven’t had time to consider fully.
Just because others have expectations for an immediate reply doesn’t mean you need to rush into taking action.
Take your time to make an informed decision and give a thoughtful answer. After all, it is your life and your well-being on the line.
8. Asking for things to be put right.
Your rights are as important as the next person’s.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask people in your life to honor your boundaries, correct their mistakes, or make amends. And you don’t need to apologize for asking.
Try to do it with grace and understanding, as people have blind spots and can get defensive. Their defensiveness might make you want to back down or accept blame for causing a rift.
But in the long run, other people will respect you more when you are firm in your boundaries and have clear expectations for the way you want to be treated.
9. Being more successful than others.
Celebrate your accomplishments and successes, and be proud of your abilities and knowledge.
Your success required a lot of hard work, dedication and, sometimes, sacrifice. Yes, sometimes luck and good timing were involved as well.
No matter how you achieved your successes in life, they are yours to celebrate without feeling guilty or embarrassed.
If others act jealous or suggest you aren’t deserving, this doesn’t signal the need for an apology or explanation from you.
Their negative feelings around your success are not your problem. An emotionally mature and supportive person would be happy for your success.
Don’t fall victim to the thought that you need to diminish yourself in order to make someone else feel better about their insecurities.
Of course you can feel sorry to see someone sad, unhappy, failing or in distress. Your feelings of empathy and sympathy can guide you to offer help and compassion, but never an apology for what you’e achieved.
10. Occupying your personal space.
Your personal space is the sacred area around yourself as far as you can spread your arms.
It is your private zone where you feel safe and protected, and only those you invite should step into your personal space. Having strong boundaries with your space is a sign of confidence and self-esteem.
Do you feel on edge and threatened when someone “gets into your face”? This happens when someone violates your personal space, and you don’t need to apologize for finding that unacceptable.
Don’t allow people to step into this space for the sake of being liked or tolerated. Occupy your personal space with confidence, and feel safe and protected within the limits you set for yourself.
11. Getting emotional.
What would humans be without emotions? I can’t imagine a world without love, passion, acceptance, happiness, sadness, grief, and all the other emotions we experience.
Those who can’t accept your emotions have a hard time dealing with vulnerability and honesty. They feel uncomfortable with the power of emotions (both good and bad) and the strong feelings your emotions might foster in them.
You might be tempted to suppress your emotions or apologize for them around these people. This is especially true in cultures where revealing your feelings is a sign of weakness.
However, a suppressed emotion in one area of your life often comes up in another area — sometimes with devastating consequences. Suppressed emotions can appear as depression, anxiety, and anger. Suppressed emotions can even cause physical illness.
Rather than allowing other people to determine when and how you express your feelings, surround yourself with people who are accepting and supportive of your feelings.
12. Offering more time and energy to those people that make you happy.
It is your prerogative to surround yourself with those people who make you feel good about yourself — those who love, appreciate, respect and accept you as you are.
Any relationship you have needs nurturing and attention. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with people who merit the time and energy required of a real and intimate connection.
However, we often feel obligated to spend time with family, neighbors, work associates, and others who might be toxic and unpleasant simply because we “should.”
But why give away your precious time to people like this? You have the choice to spend your time with people who uplift you rather than drain you. Never apologize for making that choice.
13. Following your purpose with intent.
Success doesn’t happen randomly. It requires seeking out your purpose and goals in life and acting on them to make them real.
Allow yourself to stay focused on your purpose. Follow your dreams and aspirations free of any feelings of guilt or self-judgement.
You are in charge of your success and well-being; no one else can do it for you. There will be many people in your life who think they know what’s best for you. Don’t allow their opinions to make you feel guilty or confused about your purpose and dreams.
Stay true to yourself without apology.
14. Where you come from.
You had no say in where you were born or who your parents were. You have many choices in life, but where and how you life begins is not your choice.
Some of us feel shame or guilt about our family of origin. We might feel we need to apologize for having too much or for not measuring up in some way.
But just like a running race, you don’t get to choose the lane to run on. You can train and improve your skill and become a winner despite an unfavorable lane. It is not the start that defines you; it is the path you take towards the finish line.
Carmen Jacob is the creator of several self improvement guides, courses, and books which focus on using what you already have to improve your life and the life of those around you. She believes that people are good by nature and given the knowledge and the opportunity, they will realize how extraordinary and capable they are.