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20 Things You Don’t Have to Apologize For

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..

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  • james

    excellent stuff. keeps me on the path.what popped into me as no need to plolgize for being me/himan, charms and warts and all. bless you all

  • Annie Possis

    Acknowledging that Minnesotans apologize a LOT… 🙂 I have to share this. At our Friday night poker game, we decided to make a ‘sorry jar’–anyone who says they’re sorry for anything has to put $1 into the jar. Over the years we’ve accumulated enough money to re-cover the poker tables, buy a pizza oven, get some new chairs, etc. etc.

  • daxman

    When I am sick with a cold r flu it is okay to take days off to rest. I have to stop apologizing for resting r feeling guilty about taking the time to rest.

  • Essence

    Loved this list and article, all except fighting for the rights of animals, seems like there is a better way to phrase that that goes along with numbers 7 & 10, meaning that it doesn’t leave room for justification of “fighting” meaning taking action that one may need to indeed apologize for, while advocating for and believing in animal rights is legit. Anyway, great list, super helpful.

  • I’m glad this spoke to you, James!

  • What a great idea. And wow, that’s a lot of apologies to buy all those things!

  • That’s a good one! Especially if people are depending on us, it can be so tough to take the time we need to heal – but there’s simply no avoiding it if we want to get well.

  • I see what you’re saying. I interpreted that as “standing up for animals,” but I get that “fight” has a negative connotation!

  • Thomas

    ‘#15. Speaking up when someone has hurt us in some way.’ – This is conundrum is in my life at the moment. I like to think that I am a peaceful man, 35, UK cultural background with interest in personal development and spiritual stuff etc (hence my being here). However, there is a person in my life who is raising his ugly head and I am stuck because there is a part of me that cannot speak out because I feel that it would make me less of a man and, the term from childhood when I was consistently bullied over and over again from school to school as I was moved around comes to mind of being a ‘snitch/sneak/rat’ and ostracised further for that action. This man used to be my ‘friend’ but there were things he did whereby red flags would go off specifically behaviour whereby he would try and dominate me or put me down or control me and then one time I did stand up to him he threw all my stuff out I was keeping in his garden shed because I was between homes. He then proceeded to come into my local and do childish stupid stuff while I was out with my friends. I got angry once when drunk, when he had done one of his ‘moves’ whilst I was with a woman that I was getting involved with. This is after he had thrown all my stuff out and it was as if he was trying to goad me. Well, it worked and as I was walking out, a means of me ejecting myself from allowing the anger to get out of hand one of my mates asked me what was up and I pointed at the guy. Since that point he started spreading gossip about me with some of the bar staff at my local and this girl bartender took his side and other bar staff started giving me dirty looks. I couldn’t believe it. I am in a new country and this person is playing this game at my local where I had thought I had had a solid ground and some of the bartenders are buying it from him. And he wouldn’t stop infiltrating this scene. I just wanted to destroy him. There was even a point when I attempted to reconcile it with him but when I told him that I thought he was a ….. for doing what he had done he stepped to me as if to try and fight me. The bouncers were looking and got in between. I had my hands up and lucky for everyone I took my anger elsewhere to the local park and screamed/ bellowed at the moon and sat under a tree crying like the bullied little boy I once was and apparently still am. Another point is that I am over 2 metres tall and 110kilos and could crush this man who is half my size. It is always the little men who do this narcissistic bullying crap in my experience. I never went back to my local for close to a year and changed suburbs for going out and I kept quiet about this stuff a part from some people who weren’t really to do with that venue. So, I set up a new group and it’s been a few months and now he is turning up again except at my new venue, one of the places that I have become accustomed to to get away from this ….. I cannot believe it as I am sitting at the bar and he comes in and everyone is greeting him as if they ennamoured by him. I just walked off. I cannot believe it. What to do? They say the bigger man walks away. Am I supposed to keep skulking away from this or should I blow the whistle or will that make me look like a tool? Hahahaha. It’s ridiculous but this shit is getting me full of rage to the extent that I am imagining some very horrific scenarios. I need help. I feel as if I have no friends left to talk to and that these new ‘friends’ will reject me over this ….. I want to do the right thing and I’m thinking that it is best for me to move to another place but FFS! Please help. Thank you.

  • I tell my clients to never apologize for writing what they would enjoy reading themselves. It isn’t today’s popular genre? It doesn’t have an element someone else (agent, publisher, or your mother) wants in it? So what! Creative people need two things: to express themselves and to enjoy the process. Never apologize for enjoying what you create–even if someone doesn’t “get” it.

  • madhatter

    One must not apologise for a mistake committed unknowingly.

  • madhatter

    One must not apologise for a mistake committed out of immaturity or unknowingly.

  • I love #3 and #17. Instincts are a result of years of experience and insights that your system is sharing in the form of feelings. Sometimes words aren’t the most effective communication channel. Also, we get so overwhelmed with to-do lists and things we want to do that we lose sight of the present moment. It’s important to take a break and just let the information process in the mind for a bit. Thanks for the article Lori!

  • So true! Sometimes we simply have to be still to tap into our own inner wisdom. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. =)

  • Frantzces Lys

    Wow! What an incredible list. I love it. These are my favorites: #5, #9, #10, and #11. An apology has to be authentic and most importantly apologizing for who we are has an adverse effect.

  • 10 and 11 are two of my favorites as well! I am a far happier person, and much better for the people around me, since learning to embrace my feelings instead of feeling ashamed of them and suppressing them.