“Sorry” — how often do you say this word?
On one hand, it’s fantastic to take responsibility for our mistakes and try to make amends, including a genuine apology.
But on the other hand, we may take things too far sometimes and start apologizing for things even when we’re not doing anything wrong.
I myself used to be pretty insecure, and got in the habit of apologizing very often because people would make me feel bad for them.
But as I grew stronger, I learned to protect my own boundaries and what I should stop apologizing for.
These are the top 6 things I learned through that journey.
1) Sharing your feelings
First off, you should never apologize for your feelings, or for sharing them (as long as you do it respectfully).
I learned this in a very painful way, through a family member. She means very well, and has a lot of love in her heart, but also a painful past.
And as a result, she is never able to admit to any mistakes, and gets very triggered whenever anyone even hints at something she did wrong.
So whenever I shared with her that I was upset by something, she somehow turned the tables and I ended up apologizing for feeling hurt by her words or actions in the first place.
But as you can imagine, I was left with an extremely frustrated feeling, which started building up into resentment.
Thankfully, with journaling and the help of my therapist, I was able to understand the situation better. Now whenever she does this, I just tell her that I’m sharing my feelings, and say nothing else.
2) Not taking what people say at face value
If you’re like me, you want to trust people and believe in their good intentions.
In fact, I even felt bad for not believing what someone told me right away. I had questions I wanted to ask, but didn’t want them to feel like I didn’t trust them.
But a few experiences have taught me that there’s really nothing wrong in not taking what people say at face value, and forming your own opinions.
One example of this happened a few years ago at a party. A guy came up to me, started chatting, and asked me to dance.
A while later, an acquaintance came to tell me I should stay away from that guy, because he’s creepy and doesn’t treat women very respectfully.
I was confused, but took what he said to be a kind warning from someone who cared.
However, I ended up spending a little more time with that guy, and getting to know him regardless of what anyone else said about him.
And you know what? He’s now a super close friend of mine. It’s true he’s got some quirks that people may misunderstand, but he’s one of the kindest souls I know and would never hurt a woman.
So in the future, I will definitely ask the person more questions about how they came to their conclusion — and that’s something I will never apologize for.
3) Saying “no”
How comfortable do you feel saying “no” when someone asks you for help?
If your answer is “not very”, it’s completely understandable – and shows you’re a great person who wants to help people.
But well, you don’t have an endless amount of energy and time. You can’t possibly help everyone, because then you would completely burn out and be unable to help anyone at all.
So saying “no” is a key skill to acquire in life if you want to be truly successful.
I saw this transformation in a friend of mine who is working on his PhD. He’s super smart and a great writer, and knows many foreigners through his travels.
A lot of them tend to ask him for help proofreading school assignments, work reports, or important emails.
He wanted to help them all, but on top of his own workload it was all too much. He started gently but firmly saying “no”, explaining that he doesn’t have the capacity at the moment to do more than he is.
And you know what? His friends understood, and found someone else to help them. The truth is, if someone gets upset at you for this, they probably shouldn’t be in your life to begin with.
4) Putting your own needs first
Anyone who’s gone on a trip with a group of friends knows it can be hard to accommodate what everyone wants.
Some people end up making sacrifices of what they want — and as I’m not a very outspoken person, in my own group that person would normally be me.
I remember one trip where a friend of mine who didn’t know the others yet joined us one day later, and arrived very hungry.
We had all gone shopping and brought food from home, because we wanted to eat healthy and save money.
But this friend of mine loved restaurants and wanted to go out. Everyone else wanted to stay at home to eat, since we had food anyways.
I didn’t want to make her eat alone, so I went out with her — but I felt bad the entire evening that I couldn’t spend time with the rest of the group and had to spend money that I didn’t want to spend.
All because I felt bad about putting my own needs first. When in fact I should never have to apologize for that — if I don’t look out for my needs, then nobody else will.
5) Setting boundaries
Another thing you should stop apologizing for is setting boundaries.
We all love to talk about this, but what does it actually mean?
Boundaries are limits between you and another person — including what behavior and treatment you will accept from them towards you.
Each person may have individual boundaries. For example, my boyfriend doesn’t care if I read his messages with his friends, but it might bother someone else.
Obviously, we can’t expect people to read our minds and know what our boundaries are — you have to communicate these, or show people what they are through your actions.
For example, locking your phone with a password is a way to set and enforce boundaries.
If someone does this and their partner asks them about it, they have absolutely no reason to apologize. Because they have full right to decide what they find acceptable, and demand people to respect it.
6) Being yourself
And finally, you should never, ever, EVER apologize for being yourself.
This includes everything about you from your clothing choices, sense of humor, diet choices, how you spend your time, who you spend your time with, etc.
(Obviously, with the exception of if you are hurting someone with something you’re doing).
You get to choose how to live your life — and you’re the only one who lives it. Why should anyone else have a say in what it looks like?
If a person really can’t put up with the choices you make, then it’s not on you to change yourself for them. Maybe they don’t fit into your life to begin with.
I realized this in my relationship with my ex. Things started out great, but then he began to find a ton of things to criticize about me — from my hobbies to what I liked to eat, to what time I woke up.
Clearly, we were not a good match for each other, because he essentially wanted me to be someone else.
And I broke up with him not long after that, because I should always have the freedom to be who I want to be.
Have you been apologizing too much?
Now you know 6 things that you should definitely stop apologizing for doing, because you’re doing nothing wrong.
I’ve got to be honest: it takes time to stop apologizing for these things, if you’ve made a habit of doing it already.
The most important thing isn’t even to stop saying the word “sorry”. It’s to stop feeling bad about it in the first place.
This happens when you change your mindset by working on your self-worth and understanding your needs and rights as a human being.
You may have been apologizing because you met people that didn’t have the compassion to care about your point of view.
Or maybe you’re a more “submissive” type of personality, like me.
But the great news is, you have the power to decide who you are, and you can shape your own confidence and self-worth even if you haven’t had a lot of it until now.
I hope this article will give you the inspiration and knowledge to start this journey of transformation – and there’s plenty more on Hack Spirit that I know can help you get there all the way.