10 things you should never apologize for (because you haven’t done anything wrong)

We all carry a certain amount of guilt in our lives, often for things we shouldn’t feel guilty about at all. We live in a world that is quick to point fingers, quick to make us second guess our actions and beliefs.

You might find yourself constantly saying ‘sorry’, even for things you know deep down aren’t your fault or responsibility. You might find this habit so deeply ingrained that you’re unsure if it’s habitual courtesy or an unnecessary burden you’ve been conditioned to carry.

I know I’ve been there, tip-toeing around situations, offering apologies for things that definitely didn’t warrant one.

How do you know if your apology is actually something called for, or just the result of societal pressures and expectations?

It’s time we tackle this issue head-on. If you’re like me, a serial apologizer, then keep reading because I’m about to give you the low-down on 10 things you should never feel obligated to apologize for.

Trust me, once you take these to heart, you’ll not only feel more empowered, but you’ll also probably realize how many times you’ve been selling yourself short.

So, are you ready to break free from the sorry cycle? Let’s dive in!

1) Expressing your feelings

Let’s start with this question: How many times have you apologized for expressing your feelings or emotions?

Be it anger, sadness, joy, or even love – society has a way of making us feel guilty for revealing our true emotions. We’re often made to feel as if we’re creating inconvenience or discomfort for others by expressing how we feel.

But here’s the thing: your emotions are valid, and expressing them is a fundamental part of being human. It’s healthy to communicate your feelings, and it’s an essential part of maintaining emotional well-being and building strong relationships.

So, stop apologizing for your emotions. Your feelings are your own, they are real and they matter.

Letting others know how you feel isn’t something you’ve done wrong. On the contrary, it’s a courageous act of honesty that deserves respect, not an apology.

2) Choosing your own path

Just like the pressure to “put up or shut up,” the pressure to conform to societal norms and expectations can also be overwhelming. People have all sorts of opinions on practically anything you choose in life, such as: 

  • Choosing a vegetarian lifestyle
  • Opting out of having kids
  • Moving to a different country for work
  • Going back to school later in life

Those are just a few examples. Like I said, whatever choices we make, we’re bound to hear what others have to say about it.

Be that as it may, we don’t have to apologize for them. No one else has to walk in your shoes, so why should they get a say? The path you take, the life you decide to lead are yours and yours alone. 

And you know what? Authenticity is more important than all of these external opinions. I think, if I were to live my life according to other people’s expectations, I’d feel very sorry indeed. To myself! 

3) Saying no when you need to

The word ‘no’ can be a powerful tool for setting boundaries and protecting your time and energy. (And it can come in handy for those times when people insist you make a choice that suits them, not you.)

Yet, it’s often seen as rude or offensive, leading many of us to apologize when we use it.

In the English language, there are at least 100 different ways to say ‘no’, which points to our cultural discomfort with this simple, yet impactful word. But it’s crucial to remember that saying ‘no’ is a right, not a transgression.

Being able to assertively say ‘no’ when something doesn’t align with your needs or values is a fundamental aspect of self-care and respect.

Again, it’s your life; you get to decide what commitments you take on. So why should you apologize for valuing your time, energy, and well-being, right?

Which brings me to my next point…

4) Taking time for yourself

I remember when I was a new mom, and I desperately needed some time for myself. The guilt was overwhelming—how could I even think about taking a break when there’s a tiny human depending on me?

But one day, I reached a breaking point. I was exhausted, emotionally drained, and knew I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be if I didn’t recharge my own batteries.

That’s when I realized taking time for myself wasn’t a luxury; it was a necessity. It’s like the airplane safety demo: you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.

If you’re running on empty, you’re not doing anyone any favors, least of all yourself.

Whether you’re a parent, a partner, a friend, or an employee, never apologize for setting aside time to refill your own cup. You’ll be better for it, and so will the people around you.

5) Your past

We all have histories, a blend of triumphs and mistakes. And that’s okay, it’s all part of the human experience. 

Still, how many times have you found yourself saying sorry for things like: 

  • That job you quit without a backup plan
  • The relationship that didn’t work out
  • The years it took to finish your degree
  • A long list of sexual partners

Yes, your past has shaped you but doesn’t define you. You’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even yesterday. You’re constantly growing, and you don’t need to apologize for your past.

In fact, I’d say that apologizing for your past is tantamount to denying the journey that led to your present self. 

6) Being successful

Ah, another denial. Like saying sorry for your past, apologizing for your success is just as much a denial of who you are. 

I admit, I used to be guilty of this. I’d often downplay my accomplishments to make others feel comfortable.

Have you ever done that? It’s like you’re apologizing for daring to be successful.

But here’s the thing–your achievements are yours to celebrate. What’s more, your success doesn’t take away from anyone else’s. So why dim your own light with an apology?

In fact, by shining your light, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same. You never know who’s watching and who’s getting inspired by you, so carry on and be the go-getter you are!

7) Having high standards

People might blame you for being overly demanding or having unrealistic expectations, but maintaining high standards isn’t something to apologize for.

Whether it’s the quality of work you deliver or the standards you set for your relationships, these are a reflection of your values and integrity.

Never feel guilty for upholding what you believe in.

8) Not knowing everything

At the same time, no need to apologize for not knowing everything, either.

People might scoff and say, “Uh, you can Google things now…” But let’s be real – despite living in the information age, it’s impossible to know everything!

As a teacher for many years, I love it when people have the courage to admit when they don’t know something. Because that means they have intellectual humility. It means they’re willing to learn.

(In fact, I’d be more wary of those who act like they know everything. But that’s a different topic for a different day…)

The point is, life is a continuous learning process. Don’t apologize for what you don’t know; instead, embrace the opportunity to learn and grow.

Trust me, you’re better off asking than making assumptions. No apologies required for wanting to understand things better.

Nor should you have to apologize for…

9) Changing your mind

Have you ever made a decision and then later did a complete turnaround? Or had a political stance that you eventually abandoned?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all done that. And probably said sorry for it, as if changing our minds was a real affront to the other person.

I know I’ve felt that way, worried that others would think I’m flaky or inconsistent.

But as I grew older, I stopped apologizing because I finally understood this one truth: it’s okay to change your mind.

In fact, it’s more than okay—it’s a sign of growth and evolution. Changing your mind reflects growth, new perspectives, and the courage to admit that what once worked doesn’t anymore.

Whether it’s a career move, ending a relationship, or changing your stance on a social issue, it’s okay. It simply means you’re evolving as a person, and that’s not ever something you should be sorry for.

10) Asking for help

Finally, have you ever said this: “Sorry, but would you mind helping me with…” 

News flash: admitting you need help isn’t something to preface with “sorry.” 

But I totally understand why we feel that urge. 

According to leadership coach M. Nora Bouchard in this CNBC report, “We don’t want to be ashamed of our situation, or come across as incompetent. So we work really hard to make sure people don’t see us this way.”

Plus, we may feel like other people already have their own issues to worry about, and we don’t want to add to that.

Look, admitting you need help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness. You’re recognizing that you can’t do everything yourself—and that’s perfectly okay. No need to apologize for it.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many things in life that we shouldn’t be apologizing for. So it’s high time we shed the guilt and unnecessary “sorrys” and live our lives authentically.

The next time you catch yourself apologizing for any of these things, take a step back, reframe, and stand your ground—unapologetically.

Cheers to living life on your own terms!

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