How To Stop Apologizing (And The Reasons Why!)

I need to embrace the power of learning how to stop apologizing.

I am so sick of it. I say sorry for someone bumping into me at the grocery store. I say sorry for miscommunication about a meeting that was no one’s fault. I say sorry for someone else’s bad mood. I say sorry for not doing anything wrong at all.

Apologizing is getting me absolutely nowhere.

It’s almost as if I feel like I have to apologize just for existing And I know I am not the only one.

You’ve seen the empowering viral videos, read convincing op-eds, and browsed the self help blogs that tell you to quit apologizing for mundane shit. And I agree. It’s an awful habit and I am desperately trying to replace “I’m sorry” with “pardon me”/”excuse me”/”thank you”/”I understand”/”MOVE IT ASSHOLE”

But “sorry” just rolls off the ole tongue, doesn’t it?

The small stuff will go away with practice. Eventually you’ll stop getting out of a man’s way on the sidewalk, and when he bumps into you, you won’t say a damn word. Instead you’ll look at him with a “walk much?” stare and go on your merry way.

(And for those of you who have reached that status – bless you. I mean doesn’t it just warm your heart when these men look sOoOoOoO perplexed that you have the AUDACITY to walk in a A STRAIGHT LINE instead of ZIG ZAGGING OUT OF THE WAY FOR HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS CHRISTOPHER RUPERT?!)

{{{yes that was a Brandy Cinderella reference for those keeping score.}}}

{{{best Cinderella movie ever.}}}

But what about the bigger stuff? Like the stuff at work, say when a boss comes down on you for absolutely no reason other than his hangover? Or when a friend is disappointed in a decision you made that indirectly hurt their feelings (though not intentionally)?

We should still apologize, then right? Even though we’ve done nothing wrong – society says that women should apologize when people feel bad.  That’s the rule!

Fuck the rules.

Let’s create new ones.

This is why you have to stop apologizing.

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1) Apologizing implies guilt

It’s simple. Theoretically, apologies are meant to compensate for you doing a shit thing. When you behave badly, you apologize, and ideally the hurt party accepts your apology. So if you haven’t done a shit thing, why apologize?

Ok ok okkkkkkk, YES, there is one big exception to this rule.

When 1) you in are in a predicament with someone you love and 2) it’s a gray area.

This usually pertains to – you guessed it – romantic relationships. For the love of God, just apologize and call it a day. You know the sayings – if someone wins, then the relationship loses. If you are a winner then your partner is a loser. And blah blah so on and so forth.

But in other settings – usually professional – stop making yourself look guilty. The more you take blame for anything wrong that goes on in the office, the more leadership will assume you’re the problem.

2) Apologizing implies weakness

I have to admit – I absolutely LOATHE that apologizing is a sign of weakness. I wish that were not the case – I really do. If we lived in a world where everyone apologized to everyone all the time and it was seen as a courteous, friendly gesture – then HELL, I would fit right in. But that’s not the world we live in, because the patriarchy. Yay.

In the current social climate we live in today, you cannot afford to make yourself look weak. The moment you do, you may as well tattoo the letters S-C-A-P-E-G-O-A-T right across your forehead. Because that will be your new identity, and the ink will get darker and darker every time you utter “I’m sorry” for something you cannot control.

You will be the easy one to blame everything on because you won’t make it awkward for everyone else. In fact, you will clean up the uncomfiness with a sparkly apology! That way, everyone can finally breathe and go back to their business because you took care of it for them! Everyone needs to someone to blame, and you just nominated yourself as tribute for an eternity.

Do not give them that out. Do not take blame for everything. Do not apologize. And DO NOT make yourself look weak for the comfort of others. Take pride in your work, your opinions, and your voice. Resist rescuing others from the discomfort of things going wrong. And girl, hold that head up high.

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3) Apologizing implies you’re not performing

Life is a hot mess. Things go wrong every single day for every single person breathing air. Which means if you are apologizing for all of the things you have done wrong, AND the things you haven’t done at all, your apologies may as well be playing on a never-ending loop.

Which means…people are used to you apologizing. In fact, they may even associate you WITH apologizing. And if we revert back to the original idea that people apologize for things when they have done something wrong…people are going to assume you do a lotta shit wrong.

So now all of a sudden you are known for being ineffective, too!? Ouch.

Limit your apologies to situations where you did something incorrectly with intention. 

Otherwise, leave it to…

“It won’t happen again.”
“Thank you for bringing that to my attention.”
“I see what you’re saying, appreciate it.”
“I understand how that comes across”
“Got it. In the future, what would you prefer?”

Not “I’m sorry.”

You’re not sorry. You’re learning. You’re evolving. You’re HUMAN.

And you’re trying.

Don’t give people an opportunity to write you off, because many will take it. You are a smart sophisticated FEMALE who most likely threatens the hell out of plenty of dimwits who cling desperately to outdated, patriarchal belief systems. And trust me, their fragile, masculine egos will be much better off if you are seen as useless.

Don’t back down. 

4) Apologizing contradicts boundaries

This is for a rather specific situation that I believe deserves recognition.

It usually goes like this:

You have a complicated relationship with a family member/friend/coworker that is causing you a lot of emotional stress. You decide to set a boundary that keeps the relationship healthy, but relieves you of said emotional stress. Family member/friend/coworker does not like said boundary, and gets their feelings hurt. They then expect/demand an apology.

No no no no no.

By giving in, you are ripping the teeth out of the very boundary you decided was necessary for this relationship to survive. And, for the record: loud pushback is a strong indicator that a boundary was desperately needed in the first place. 

Most boundaries need to bet set multiple times – that’s normal. Every time you set that boundary, think of it as you saving the relationship. Instead of jumping ship because it got too stressful, you are crafting an ecosystem in which the relationship can survive. So don’t you DARE let the disapproval of others for taking care of your own emotional health make you second guess your decision. And under no circumstances should you apologize for it.

If the relationship truly means a lot to you – or – you are obligated into this relationship and have to friggin deal with it (rhymes with shamily), dig your stiletto heels into that ground and stand firm. Set the boundary every day if you have to. Yeah, it sucks that you may  inadvertently hurt people’s feelings along the way, but let me say it one more time for the people in the back:


Feel free to sympathize – empathize, even! – but no apologies. If you’re not sure where to start or what to say, you can borrow these phrases:

“I understand your frustration, but I think this is best.”
“I appreciate you sharing your feelings with me about this and I hope we can find common ground.”
“Do you have any suggestions on how to make this work for both of us?”

Very conciliatory. Not apologetic.

And if you continue to receive pushback, maybe it’s time to move on.

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5) Apologizing highlights others’ feelings as more valid than your own

This is the real kicker. When you apologize to someone over something that you either 1) stand by or 2) had nothing to do with – you are invalidating your own feelings to rescue someone else’s.

Think about what that does to your self-confidence.

Every time you apologize for doing your job, minding your own business, walking down the street, or taking a risk – you are telling yourself you don’t deserve to take up space. You are telling yourself that someone else’s existence is more important than your own. And you are silencing your own feelings.

It’s not ok.

I have one more point that I really, really want to make, and then we will wrap this up – promise!

Let me spit this out real quick: It’s not cool to be selfless. 

Putting everyone in front of yourself ain’t cool. It’s demoralizing.

I don’t know when or how being labeled “selfless” turned into a compliment, but like seriously, what the hell.

If I hear the term “selfless” used to describe one more kick-ass woman I’m going to scream. So now women are faced with the standard that in order to be successful – or even likable – we have to put everyone else in front of ourselves? That’s an guaranteed way to never feel worth, power, purpose, validation, confidence, or even liked for who we actually are. It negates the crazy concept that a lot of us receive joy from doing things for others, and that builds our own self-confidence. And, of course, this never-ending chase for the stamp of womanly selflessness is probably at the root of why we apologize all of the freaking time.

We have been trained from early days to negate our own feelings for the validation of others’. To be selfless. 

Self-confidence is a healthier goal than selflessness, and it doesn’t require apologizing.

Self-confident people are sensitive towards others’ feelings during complicated times and stand up for themselves when necessary. They are kind, assertive, independent, helpful, communicative, and friendly. They balance empathy with boundaries. And they don’t apologize for no damn reason.

So let’s stop apologizing once and for all. Instead, thank people for discussing their feelings. Show appreciation for (hopefully constructive) criticism. Use apology demands as an opportunity to have a dialogue about what’s next in your relationship. And talk about what can change in the future.

Ok, told you we would wrap this up, so here it goes.



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