13 things you shouldn’t apologize for (even if you think you should)

by Isabel Cabrera | May 30, 2024, 10:28 am

Sorry has to be one of the most powerful words in the English language.

A sincere apology at the right time can turn an enemy into a friend or salvage a relationship. 

On the other hand, there are few things more frustrating than someone who refuses to apologize when they’ve done something wrong.

You don’t want to be that person.

At the same time, there are times when an apology can do more harm than good. And there are some things you should never apologize for – even if you feel like you should.

Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t apologize for, no matter what.

1) Saying no

You’re allowed to say no.

I’m going to say that again.

You are allowed to say no.

No one – not your parents, not your partner, not your kids, and certainly not your boss – has the right to determine how you live your life or spend your limited time on this earth.

That doesn’t mean you should always be stubborn

Compromise is a big part of every human relationship, and the person whose answer is always no is not being any more true to themselves than the person who always says yes.

Simply put, clearly expressing what you want and don’t want is not the same as being stubborn or disagreeable. And you should never have to apologize for that.

2) Defining your boundaries

You see, boundaries are essential to a healthy relationship. And saying no when it’s appropriate is just one part of clearly defining your boundaries for what you will and won’t accept from other people, and from yourself.

Boundaries allow us to get along with other people by determining how we allow other people to treat us

Healthy boundaries are not about controlling anybody’s behavior, but simply making it clear what you will tolerate.

This applies in the workplace, the family home, and in any other human relationship.

As long as your boundaries are legitimate and you’re not attempting to control anyone, you have every right to set them wherever you please. And that means you never need to apologize for it.

3) Following a dream

What is life if you’re not following a dream?

Every great poem or piece of music, every amazing movie or thrilling sport performance, is the result of one or several people following their dreams

In doing so, they make the world a better, richer place for all of us.

Unfortunately, following your dreams does not guarantee success. Many people never attain the life they dreamed of, no matter how hard they try.

But whether you succeed in following your dreams or not, you should never apologize for doing so. The world desperately needs more people with the passion and energy to pursue their goals, no matter how difficult it may be. Chasing a dream is nothing to apologize for.

4) Being kind

Kindness is what makes the world livable for all of us. And it’s a quality there never seems to be enough of.

However, there is such a thing as being too kind. Not everyone deserves the kindness you show them, and some people will happily exploit it for their own desires.

Still, you should never apologize for your kindness, even if the end result was you being exploited by someone less kind than you are. 

Even if your actions don’t get the results you want, you should never apologize if they were motivated by such a beautiful quality as kindness.

5) Loving someone

In case you’re wondering, the same applies to love.

We have all loved people who may have been bad for us. After all, none of us can see the future, and we don’t know how things will work out.

Love can sometimes lead you to do things you regret, and when you act badly, you can and should apologize for your actions.

But never apologize for the love itself. Even if it wasn’t returned. Even if it ended up doing you harm. 

We humans are creatures made to love, and that is nothing to apologize for.

6) Ending a bad relationship

On the other hand, while loving someone is not something to apologize for, you also have no need to apologize when a relationship goes bad. 

At least, you don’t if it wasn’t your fault.

If a relationship isn’t working for you, you need to end it. In the long run, it’s better for you and the other person in the relationship to draw a line under something that isn’t serving your needs.

It hurts to end a relationship, even if you’re the one doing it. 

But you should never apologize for having the strength to know when something isn’t working.

7) Taking time off

It’s not just romantic relationships that require boundaries. In fact, setting clear boundaries can be even more important in the workplace.

Ultimately, none of us live to work. Therefore, taking time off from the grind is not only a legal right, but a moral one. 

So you should never apologize to your boss or to anyone else for taking time away from your career to focus on yourself.

8) Not knowing something

We all want to appear smart and capable. Therefore, it can be embarrassing to admit we don’t know something.

On the other hand, admitting the limits of your knowledge is how you improve.

If you don’t admit you don’t know something, you’ll never learn anything new.

Plus, humans are born into the world knowing almost nothing. Everything, from walking to talking to writing to eating, has to be learned. 

Even when it seems as though everybody knows something that you don’t, don’t apologize for not knowing. 

It just means no one has taught you yet.

9) Rewarding yourself

Life isn’t easy for anyone. And sometimes, the little rewards we can give ourselves help keep us going.

You should never apologize for that. 

Whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a bag you like, a luxury vacation, or a donut from the bakery, you don’t need to justify your pleasures. 

If you can afford it and it’s not hurting anyone else, it’s none of anybody else’s business.

10) Telling the truth

Sometimes the truth hurts. 

And telling the truth can be damaging to relationships. That’s why we have the concept of little white lies.

But sometimes, being truthful is the right thing to do, even if someone gets hurt. 

Never apologize for telling the truth. If somebody’s well-being depends on a lie, that’s their problem, not yours.

11) Doing what’s important to you

It would be a dull world if everybody liked the same things.

On the other hand, that means that not everybody’s going to understand what’s important to you. Even those very close to you may not get why you like certain hobbies or why you have particular life goals.

Now, that’s okay. But what’s not okay is expecting someone to apologize for doing what they feel is important.

We all have different ideas of what matters most in life. That’s part of what makes things interesting. Don’t apologize for doing what you think is important, even if nobody else agrees.

12) Things that are not your fault

This one might seem obvious. 

But here’s the thing: we often find ourselves apologizing for things we have no control over.

We apologize for being late when the bus didn’t show up. 

We apologize for when the weather ruins our plans. 

We apologize just for existing.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to do that.

If it wasn’t your fault, don’t apologize for it.

13) Failing

We all fail sometimes.

And the more you attempt, the more you will fail.

As every successful person knows, failure is just one step on the road to achievement.

Everybody fails. The only thing you should consider apologizing for is not learning from your failures.

Stop apologizing so much

Saying sorry can easily become a habit. 

We all like to avoid conflict, and excessive apologizing can seem like a way to do that.

On the other hand, these are all things you should never apologize for. 

And even if you feel like you should say sorry, resist the urge to apologize for the things on this list.

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