There’s a great deal of strength involved in admitting when you are wrong.
Saying sorry and explaining yourself takes courage, shows self-awareness, and is a sign of humility.
But many of us feel the need to justify our actions to others far too often!
We end up shouldering the blame when the fault is not ours. We end up feeling guilt and shame over things we shouldn’t.
There are some significant things in your life that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for. Let’s take a look at them…
1) Putting your needs first
To some people, the thought of putting yourself first is a selfish notion.
But the reality is that if everyone were focused on their own well-being the world would be a far kinder, healthier, and happier place as a consequence.
It’s true what they say about needing to fill your own cup first. Self-care is an essential, not a bonus. You don’t have to explain yourself for protecting it.
As author and speaker Heather Monahan remind us:
“If you don’t workout, sleep, meditate, relax, or do whatever special things you need to do for you, you won’t be the best version of yourself. When you’re not your best version of yourself, you can’t do things for others. In a way, it’s actually selfless to take great care of yourself because it allows you to be more present for your family and friends.”
2) Turning people down and telling them no
Of course, knowing when to put yourself first means you also have to be able to say no to others.
And that’s not always comfortable.
We can quickly over-explain, offer excuses or say sorry for saying no.
We often hate the thought that someone will think worse of us for refusing an invitation or rejecting an offer.
For everything we say yes to in life, it’s inevitable we also need to say no to something else.
Otherwise, you’ll quickly reach burnout.
3) Not having the energy to do something
We live in an extrovert world, and sometimes that can be tough for introverts who handle energy differently.
It’s not always the time we don’t have. We may not have the energy for a new project, a party, a love interest, or a work opportunity.
Rather than be sorry, we need to learn to become more comfortable with honoring our own energy.
4) For needing time
That might be the time to make a decision. It could be the time to heal. Perhaps it’s the time to be alone or for that precious self-care which we’ve just said is so very important.
Our on-demand culture makes so many requests of us. It can accelerate and push us to keep up with a timetable that we didn’t set.
But what about when you don’t yet know how you feel or what you want? Slowing down without justifying yourself is incredibly empowering.
Rather than buy into the hustle, we refuse to explain ourselves for taking our sweet time about things.
Which leads me nicely on to our next point…
5) Delays in getting back to people
Do you ever feel guilty for switching off your phone off?
Maybe first thing in the morning you are quick to check your emails in case anything important has come up.
I know I’ve started many a text with: “Sorry for the delay, I was X,Y, Z.”
But when did we start apologizing for not being glued to tech?
We could do ourselves and others a great favor by normalizing natural delays in our communication.
6) Upholding your boundaries when someone crosses them
When you have to lay down the law, you don’t have to be sorry about it.
Being very clear about what you expect from other people is perfectly reasonable.
That’s not to say you need to be an asshole about it. But being firm in your boundaries is not something you should ever have to justify to anyone.
That can sometimes mean cutting negative influences out of your life. Whilst you may feel guilt, you are completely always right to protect yourself.
7) Crying in front of people or showing your emotions
If you’re anything like me, if you get upset in front of someone else the word “sorry” can quickly slip out.
But let’s stop for a moment to really think about that. Why would we be sorry for crying or showing our feelings to someone?
I suspect it’s a hang-up from this old-fashioned idea of keeping a stiff upper lip.
We subconsciously find perfectly normal and natural human emotions embarrassing.
But let’s put a stop to that for the sake of our mental health!
We shouldn’t ever be sending ourselves the message that self-expression is a bad thing.
8) Needing help and support
A lot of us can feel like we are inconveniencing others if we seek their help.
We are “sorry for bothering” our boss or colleague when we need their guidance. Or we are “sorry for burdening” a friend when we are going through a tough time.
But every single one of us needs this helping hand and support network at some time or another.
We are biologically social creatures and our very success as a species actually rests on our ability to cooperate.
It’s not just a cliche, it’s a fact that we are stronger when we work together.
That means leaning on each other unapologetically when we need to.
9) For being “too much”
Our personalities are in part down to the experiences that have shaped us and partly down to biology.
Some of us are louder than others. Some are more sensitive than others. Some are more forthcoming and assertive.
You shouldn’t have to say sorry for who you are.
Now that’s not to say you can get away with bad behavior that hurts others under the guise ‘that’s just how I am’.
But don’t let anybody tell you that “you’re too much” for having a strong, vivacious, characterful, or downright quirky personality.
It’s ok to be different, and we shouldn’t have to justify ourselves for not fitting in.
10) Speaking your truth
As we’ve just highlighted, we’re all different. So we’re bound to disagree rather than always see things in the same way.
That means someone may not always like what you have to say.
Of course, speaking your truth isn’t a justification to blurt out tactless comments wherever you go.
All healthy human relationships do require self-restraint and awareness. But speaking your truth is about honoring your own values and beliefs.
It’s about respecting yourself enough to allow your voice to be heard. Because at the end of the day, it’s your life…
11) Living your life for yourself and no one else
A lot of people don’t even realize they’ve spent their entire life playing by someone else’s rules until it’s too late.
But as palliative nurse Bronnie Ware discovered, the biggest regret of the dying is:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
We can all become so restricted by the expectations of others — whether it’s our parents, our peers, or the society we live in.
But we need never say sorry for carving out a life based on what matters most to us.
This is exactly why a slightly rebellious nature is also nothing to feel bad about.
12) Not following the crowd
It’s tempting to go along with others. It can feel like the path of least resistance.
Thinking and acting for yourself might not always win you every single popularity contest. Although it does usually win you respect.
Questioning minds are essential to evolution. They help us grow beyond the status quo.
Either way, we should never be sorry for deciding for ourselves, even when that rubs someone else up the wrong way.
13) Not knowing the answer
I suck at general knowledge quizzes.
When I was growing up, my brother would always say ‘Oh come on, that’s so easy’.
But my mom would be quick to chime in and remind us that ‘it’s only easy if you know the answer.’
The point is that we only know what we’ve been taught or have learned.
We cannot know everything. A growth mindset relied on our ability to accept this.
We should never feel ashamed, embarrassed, or feel the need to say sorry simply for not knowing something.
14) Messing up whilst you’re learning something new
Whilst we’re on the topic of learning, all growth demands of us that we mess up. Period.
That means those of us who are expanding our horizons are also going to be simultaneously slipping up.
Practice is how we make perfect.
But as we hone our craft or roll our sleeves up and give something a go, we need to encourage ourselves along the way.
Eliminate “sorry” from your vocab as you navigate new skills.
15) How someone else behaves
Yep, that even goes for parents.
I’ve seen so many moms and dad’s endlessly apologizing when their child has a tantrum, runs around in a restaurant, or is loud in a public place.
But hey, they’re a kid, that’s what they do!
But it also applies to if your boyfriend acts like an ass at your friend’s birthday party. Or if your parents say some questionable things at your cousin’s wedding.
We are not responsible for how other adults behave, and we cannot rigidly control what our children do either.
You’re only responsible for yourself, so don’t apologize for what others do.