Eight things you can stop apologizing for, starting today.

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters
Despite textbook heart attack symptoms, I was sent home with an acid reflux misdiagnosis by a man with the letters M.D. after his name from the Emergency Department in the same hospital where I worked!  My reaction at the time was to feel embarrassed and apologetic because I’d just made a big fuss over “nothing”. I felt so embarrassed, in fact, that I even sent my hospital colleagues in Emergency a sheepish little thank you note the following day, apologizing once again for wasting their very valuable time. I felt so embarrassed, in fact, that when my heart attack symptoms continued (of course they did!), I refused to return to Emergency for two horrific weeks.
I wrote about this urge to apologize in The Heart Patient’s Chronic Lament: “Excuse Me. I’m Sorry. I Don’t Mean to be a Bother” – about a heart patient who was stunned to add up how many times she had needlessly apologized to her family, friends and especially to staff throughout her hospital stay.
Why do we feel this urge to apologize?

Not wanting to make a fuss is a valued trait of strong women, but this tendency can cause disastrous cardiac outcomes when it makes us reluctant to seek immediate medical attention when we need it most. And our need to apologize for it can then make a bad situation even worse. 
”   Pay attention to how many times you say sorry in a day. A heartfelt ‘I’m sorry’ is powerful. A meaningful apology can repair a relationship or turn us around when we are going in the wrong direction.
“But let’s not waste it on things we shouldn’t be sorry for.”
That’s how author Courtney Carver kicks off her essay about unnecessary apologies. With her kind permission, I’m sharing her list of eight things we could all stop apologizing for:

“Let’s stop apologizing for things we don’t need to be sorry for. It’s exhausting and often a quiet reminder that we aren’t good enough. Our hearts show us the way, but when we are apologetic, our hearts hear, “Shhh. . . “

Let’s stop apologizing for …

♥ staying home

We apologize by making up elaborate excuses for turning down an invitation. “No thank you, I hope you have a lovely time”  is sufficient.

♥ how we are dressed

When we think we don’t fit in, we apologize for being underdressed, overdressed, or mismatched. Except for rare circumstances, no one really notices what we are wearing. We can stop apologizing for what we wear.

♥ saying no

If you spend your free time catching up and doing all the things you don’t have time to do, you don’t have free time. If you want free time – real free time, or if you crave eight whole hours of sleep, a proper lunch break, or at least 24 hours away from your email, you are going to have to say no without an apology. A lot.

♥ thinking differently

Being curious and considering new ideas and ways to create, thrive, love, and live is a blessing. When people reject that and make you feel like apologizing, remember that it’s not about you. They may feel threatened and afraid that if you change you may think differently about them. Be gentle and inspiring instead of apologetic.

♥ for being yourself

We desperately need to you to be unapologetically you.

♥ for changing our minds

Sticking to it for the sake of sticking to it serves no one. Things change outside and inside. When we hold on so we can be right or because we are afraid to change course, we compromise the opportunity to learn and grow.

♥ taking longer than 3.2 seconds to respond to email

How many of your emails, voice mails, or other interactions start with “sorry for taking so long to get back to you” even though it’s been less than a day? We are doing our best.

♥ putting our health first

Going to bed early, saying no to food that doesn’t agree with us, or working out instead of meeting for coffee is nothing to apologize for. When you put your health first, you can serve and connect from a place you just can’t access when you are rundown, sick or tired. Good health is nothing to apologize for.

We can be kind and loving without being sorry. Our hearts deserve that.

© 2017 Courtney Carver

Courtney Carver is the author of a number of books including Simple Ways to be More With Less and Clutter Free: Simplify Your Life.  Since 2006, she has also lived with multiple sclerosis. Courtney credits simplifying her own life with “giving me the space, time, and love to be more me!” This essay originally appeared on her blog, Be More With Less.


NOTE FROM CAROLYN:   I wrote much more about topics like this in my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease”. You can ask for it at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 30% off the list price).

Q: Have you ever found yourself apologizing over nothing?

See also:

The heart patient’s chronic lament: “Excuse me. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a bother”

A “Not-to-do” list for the chronically ill

Why doctors say “yes” when they really mean “no”

Listen up, ladies: 16 things I’ve been meaning to tell you

14 thoughts on “Eight things you can stop apologizing for, starting today.

  1. Pingback: Medical News Today: 10 Best Heart Disease Blogs
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  3. I’ve become so aware of not saying I’m sorry needlessly that when I do say it I silently say to myself “I’m sorry I can’t help myself”.

    Makes me smile a knowingly little smile of forgiveness!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Carolyn,
    I love this post! It reminds me of my trip to the ER when I had my “heart attack” (I’m not trying to trivialize heart attacks – gosh, am I apologizing again?) and started apologizing to myself for racking up “unneeded” medical expenses and for taking up space in the ER. Crazy, right?

    Your list is perfect. As a cancer patient I’d add, stop apologizing for not seeing your cancer as some grand opportunity. Not all of us see it that way (as you know), and this is perfectly fine. Stop apologizing.

    Great post. Great reminder. Love the quote, too. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nancy – such a good point about somehow feeling the need to apologize for “doing it wrong”. This seems to be one of the overarching culprits behind expressing sorrow or regret that goes far beyond just being worried about making a fuss. We not only need to not make a fuss, but we need to learn big lessons from our suffering, emerge as better people, express a suitable amount of gratitude for having this diagnosis in the first place (!) and oh, yeah, inspire others around us by our triumphant attitudes!

      Sheesh, who can possibly live up to all those expectations without apology?


  5. Thank you. My days are full of I’m sorry. Since I can’t drive anymore it’s
    (can you take me to church) I’m sorry.
    (can you take me to the grocery store) I’m sorry.
    I walk with a cane now (I’m sorry I’m so slow).
    Everyone is so kind, I’m the one that always feels like a burden. Thank you is much better then I’m sorry.

    Liked by 3 people

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