I spent a large chunk of my life apologizing. I have been sorry for everything. You ran into ME? Somehow it must be my fault. So often I was the one apologizing for something I had no good reason to be sorry for. While being able to say sorry and take responsibility for ourselves is vital, it’s also very possible to OVER take responsibility. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who would rather you carry the weight of their responsibility than carry it themselves. At a very young age, I was brainwashed to believe that it was MY job to carry the responsibilities of others. So when they had a reaction, a feeling, a hardship, that actually had absolutely nothing to do with me, I found a way to make it about me.
The Toxicity of the Constant Apology
There are many factors that go into this level of programing that gets put on us by others (which is a great topic for another article), but one of those factors I’ll focus on here is codependence. A toxic intertwining of selves so you don’t know where one person starts, and the other stops. Not only is this not good for me; the person being sorry all the time, it’s also not good for the person who should be carrying their own weight. If I was constantly making everything about me, how on earth would they ever learn to be responsible for themselves? And very importantly, how on earth could I really truly see people and their feelings and experiences from their perspective if everything I did was looked at through a lens that pointed right back to myself?
I’m not going to lie to you and say this is easy to undo. The beauty, though, is that it’s doable. I’ve worked on the disentangling of myself and others. As I’ve grown, learned, and healed, I’ve come to understand that I don’t have to be sorry for other people’s stuff. I don’t have to carry it for them and I sure as heck don’t have to apologize for things that are not mine. I don’t need to be sorry for a plethora of things that I used to carry the burden of. For the purposes of this article, I’ve narrowed them down to the top 13. But this list is not exhaustive. Come back to it when you need a reminder, but never forget…you should NEVER be sorry for who you are!
Here are 13 things I will no longer apologize for:
1. Having my own feelings.
When I was in my early 20s I remember learning in one of my college classes that it’s actually healthy to have feelings that can differ from others. I remember being blown away by the concept that just because my mother was sad, I didn’t have to be sad. Just because my friend was scared, I didn’t have to be scared. I had lived my life up until this point thinking that there was something wrong with me if I was not intertwined in someone else’s feelings.
The truth is, we can have true empathy for others and have our own feelings. I can feel deeply for you and sit in the trenches with you, without having to feel exactly what you’re feeling. You can be sad and I can be happy. You can be excited and I can be calm. We are separate people with separate emotions. I will no longer apologize for not having the feelings other people think I should.
2. Having an opinion that differs from you.
What do you mean we don’t think the same? For a long time I believed it was absolutely not ok to have a difference of opinion. But guess what, I now know that I am allowed to have an opinion that differs from yours. I’m also allowed to distance myself from you if I think your opinion is harmful without having to be sorry. I don’t have to fall in line with your views or shut my mouth and smile if it’s not in alignment with me. I can respectfully have a different opinion. If you feel this is something I need to apologize for, I can also respectfully bow out. I’m also working on finding a balance of love and boundaries with people I don’t agree with. Can we still be respectful of each other’s opinions and still stand firm in our own? That’s the goal for sure!
3. Having rules for the way you’re allowed to treat me.
I used to think that having rules and boundaries for other people was mean, bitchy, or rude. Not so. They are actually what is required in order to set boundaries. I don’t have to apologize if the way you treat me doesn’t match up with my non-negotiables. I have learned over the years that people treat you the way you allow them to. It’s good to have a set of standards and to be clear on core values to create these rules. If people can’t abide by the rules, they don’t get a prime spot in your life.
4. Ending relationships with whoever I want.
This is a tough one. So often we stay in relationships with people who are not in alignment with us, don’t follow our rules, or are downright toxic because we think it’s not ok to end relationships. This is especially true when it comes to family or long term relationships. I have the right to allow and not allow anyone I want into my space and experience. If you no longer fit, I don’t have to apologize for it. While some relationships can be sad and hard to let go of, it’s important to remember that we can release people and still love or care for them. We just have to love them from a distance. You are allowed to end any relationship you want.
5. Growing and becoming a different person.
A few months ago, someone who was an inner circle friend and confidant for many years, belittled and degraded me for my growth over the years. I knew this person for almost 20 years. Her comments to me were that she had watched me over the years change jobs, houses, religions, and relationships. She said it in a way that was shaming. Almost like I should feel bad that I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago. The fact is, I don’t want to be the same person I was yesterday. I am constantly seeking, growing, and diving into learning about the things that can make me better as a human. I will not apologize for that. I’m so freaking grateful for all the learning experiences I have had and that I have allowed myself to try things on to see whether or not they fit. I’m not sorry if my growth makes you uncomfortable. We cannot allow other people’s discomfort with growth keep us from moving forward in our own lives.
6. Being my true self.
It’s so easy to mold ourselves into who we think the world, our partner, our parent, or our friend wants us to be. I spent years doing that. What kind of music do I like? Hmm, let me think… What kind of music do you like? Thank goodness I’ve discovered that it’s ok if we don’t like the same things. It’s ok to speak up when I want something different from you. So many of us have lost ourselves trying to please others. Then we end up being miserable and depressed. I am working on accepting every piece of myself. Even the parts that are hard for me to let into the light at times. You don’t like who I am? That’s ok, you’re not my person. We also don’t have to apologize for recognizing that.
7. Making myself a priority in my own life.
I used to apologize for taking time away to work out. Time to focus on my health and self-care where things that I felt I should be sorry for. I can’t be at your beck and call all day long? I’m sorry. No, no, no! Not anymore. I want to be around to watch my grandkids grow up, which means I need to take care of myself. Not for you, for me! We’ve got to put on our own oxygen masks first. I can’t pour into you if I’m not full myself. Why are we so programmed to feel bad for meeting our own needs? Let’s stop being sorry for making ourselves a priority!
8. Taking up space.
There have been times in my life where I was sorry for simply existing. For taking up space. Like I was too big or too much. I was in the way or blocking someone’s view. I still struggle with this from time to time but you know what? I’m working really hard to not apologize for it any longer. The world needs my space. It needs yours too. We each have our own unique energy we are bringing to the world and it’s a beautiful thing. We’ve got to learn to stand tall and OWN our space. I won’t say sorry if you have to move around me or you run into me. Say it with me now…I’m allowed to take up space!
9. Standing up for what I believe in.
I distanced myself from many people in 2020 because they hated the fact that I wouldn’t stay quiet about the things that are important to me. Social injustice, classism, racism, sexism, to name a few are not ok with me. You better believe that I’m not going to keep my mouth shut. I don’t need to be sorry for rocking the boat and standing up for what I believe in. Actually, this world needs its boat rocked and you and I might be the perfect ones to do it! Change doesn’t exist in our comfort zones. Don’t like to see me marching in a protest? I’m not sorry for it.
10. Moving on from things that don’t align with me.
I had an experience recently where I was asked to be in a local magazine. I found out later that this magazine caters itself to “only the affluent” in my community. This is completely out of alignment with me. The magazine also did some things that I found to be classist and racist. I backed out of being in the magazine. Yes, after the pictures were already taken and after I’d already committed. If it’s not in alignment with my core values and who I am, I don’t need to apologize for moving on. We communicate what is and isn’t ok with us by the people and entities we surround ourselves with. It’s more than ok to walk away from anything that you don’t want to be associated with.
11. The way I raise my children.
You may or may not agree with the way I raise my kids. I don’t have to be sorry for having a hard time breastfeeding, working, or not allowing YouTube or rated PG-13 movies. I have my own reasons for all my rules and I don’t have to explain myself. Often I find myself feeling bad when my child goes to a friend’s house because I end up having to explain why he can’t do the same things their kids can do. We don’t have to parent the same. And, neither of us should apologize for our rules and boundaries. We should just respectfully comply if we want our children to play together.
12. Following my dreams.
There used to be a lot of people in my life who would insult me, tease me, or shame me for my not wanting to play small with my life. If you’re wondering where these people are now, go back and read #4. I am the only one that gets to live my own life. I choose to listen to the voice inside of me that says, “Yes, you can!”. The voice that tells me I have the dreams I have for a reason and I am totally capable of achieving them. People often try and get me too fit inside a smaller box so they don’t feel bad about never leaving their own. I cannot be confined to a box. Neither can you. There is not an apology necessary for chasing those dreams!
13. My body and the way it looks.
I recently read the book, The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. Whoa! So good! I have very much apologized for my body and the way I look over the years. To myself and my partner. Our bodies are amazing with all the things they can do and the uniqueness within us all. I choose to love myself into health and acceptance of my body, exactly as it is. Stretch marks, dimpled thighs, c-section belly, gray hair and all. I’m grateful for this one amazing body I get and now realize it’s so much more helpful to love her, rather than berate her. The only apologizing I will do in this area is to tell her how sorry I am for the many years of not treating her right.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not a comprehensive list. This is my list. My top 13. What would you put on your list? Would they be the same or different? I encourage you to dive into this deeper and create a clear understanding of what you will no longer apologize for in your own life. You’re amazing! Don’t ever be sorry for your awesomeness!
Want to read more about one of the factors that can encourage your need to be sorry? Check out this article on gaslighting by one of our wonderful writers HERE, or my article on toxic familial relationships HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.