“I’m not going to apologize for things that need no apology.”— Paul Auster
Studies show that the average person says, “I’m sorry” 8-10 times per day. That averages out to more than 3,000 apologies per year. It makes me wonder how many of those apologies are genuine, and how many are said instinctively.
As a society, we’ve gotten into the habit of taking responsibility for things that really have nothing to do with us.
We say “I’m sorry” when we mishear someone and need them to repeat themselves. We apologize for mispronouncing a word or for accidentally being in someone’s way. While there are things that we genuinely do need to apologize for, there are other things that don’t, and should never, require an apology.
- Taking time for yourself. I can’t stress the importance of self-care enough! In order to show up well for others, we must first show up well for ourselves. This means that there needs to be intentionality when it comes to taking care of you. Taking time to do something you enjoy regularly is extremely important. Get a mani-pedi, go to the gym, or just spend some time watching your favorite show. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
- Prioritizing. Recognizing people and situations that are important to you is vital! Pay attention to the things that matter most to you and prioritize them based on that. There’s no need to apologize for attending your sister’s wedding over your coworkers babyshower. If your sister is more of a priority to you, there’s no shame in your decision reflecting that. Prioritizing doesn’t mean that the other person or situation doesn’t have value. It just means that there are higher priorities needing your attention at the same time.
- Setting boundaries. Healthy boundaries are the key to successful relationships. Recognizing what is and isn’t ok with you is extremely important. I tell people all the time that you teach people how to treat you. If something makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to apologize for that. Communicating and setting boundaries based on your own values and comfort is something that no one should ever have to apologize for.
- Having imperfections. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. Whether it’s something about your physical appearance or an internal weakness, we all have areas where we’d love to improve. However, having an imperfection itself is not something worth apologizing for. Everyone is on their own journey to become a better version of themselves. There’s no need to say “I’m sorry” for being human.
- Someone else’s behavior or choices. Taking responsibility for someone else is a dangerous road. We all have the capability to influence someone, but no one has the power to control someone else. Taking responsibility for another individual’s choices and behaviors is like taking responsibility for the weather. It is and will always be out of your control.
The next time you catch yourself saying, “I’m sorry”, stop and think about whether or not the situation truly deserves an apology. Treat your apologies like money. Don’t just toss them around mindlessly. Be intentional, and use them both wisely and genuinely.
Written by: Salima Hart