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Mental Health & Wellbeing

Not Everything Is Your Fault. Stop Apologising!

Read Time:6 Minute, 26 Second

The truth is, you are not always to blame for everything. So then, why do you always end up apologising? Saying sorry for other people’s mistakes sends a powerful message – to yourself and others. You communicate your boundaries, your self-worth and how you see yourself within your relationships.

Thankfully, you can figure out why this happens and also take steps to not say sorry for absolutely everything. A refreshing change for the perpetual peace-keeper.

The Needless Apology

Saying sorry is a part of resolving conflict in any relationship. Resolving conflict doesn’t mean you must always be the one to apologise for every aspect of any dispute.

You become the scapegoat for other people’s poor behaviour, and eventually, people will take advantage of you. Sad, but true. Apologising and taking the blame for everything becomes a predictable way to manage conflict for you and others.

Why would anyone ever change if there is no consequence for behaving badly?

Apologising for someone else’s behaviour means that that person is not accountable. Your apology excuses and minimises their responsibility and permits them to act this way again in the future.

So, while others are sticking to their bad behaviour, you are taking the fall for everything, and this can never end well. You will find yourself becoming frustrated and resentful. You will be frustrated at yourself for trying to right wrongs at your own expense. And you will become resentful of those who are allowing this to happen. Your apology for no wrongdoing on your part is needless.

Why Are You Always Taking The Blame?

Whether you know it or not, there are reasons why you are always taking the blame and saying sorry. Finding out your reasons is a step forward to making changes.

You avoid conflict like the plague

If you know you are a people-pleaser, then you understand the feeling of avoiding conflict at any cost. Fear of discomfort caused by conflict is often a driver for blame-taking.

A people-pleaser tries as much as possible to avoid confrontation, voicing an opinion or even expressing feelings.

Because of this, smoothing over a fight by saying sorry is easier than managing all the discomfort of conflict.

Saying sorry avoids unnecessary fights. By avoiding disagreements, you believe you are keeping the relationship intact, lessening problems, avoiding drama, keeping people happy and side-stepping messy interactions.

While avoiding conflict by apologising may have worked for you in the past, this is a short term solution.  No one likes conflict, especially with those we love. While it is important to navigate conflict within any relationship, it is equally important to be valued and respected, not seen as the girl who takes the blame.  

No one else takes the fall

To correct any wrongdoing, someone has to own up and take responsibility, right? But what happens if no one does?

Let’s say we have an argument, and a part of that argument is my fault, caused by my behaviour. Deep down, I know it’s my fault, which makes me experience uncomfortable feelings, like guilt. However, rather than apologising for my part, I’m more focused on just getting rid of that awful feeling I have. 

One way to get rid of that guilty feeling is to give it to you. To have you take responsibility for my behaviour takes the guilt away from me and puts it squarely on you. Now I feel better, thank you.

You have now just taken the fall. By owning my behaviour, I feel better, which is great for me! When no one else takes the fall for wrongdoing, you feel compelled to make right a wrong even if it’s not yours.

You feel guilty if you don’t take the blame

Guilt comes from looking negatively at your behaviour or action. If you do not take the blame or say sorry, you judge yourself harshly, perhaps seeing yourself as selfish.

You have assessed that your feeling bad is preferable to the other person feeling bad. You have felt guilty for NOT alleviating the guilt of the other person. Not terribly logical, is it?

So now, not only did you apologise for something you didn’t do, you apologised to also alleviate your guilt. Oooh this is not good

How To Not Take The Blame

You don’t have to be the fallout girl. Start by creating boundaries, reinforcing these boundaries when they are challenged and understanding that not everything is your responsibility.

1. Establish your boundaries

Boundaries are about saying to other people, ‘This is who I am. These are where my limits are. Developing boundaries and sticking to them may not come easy and will not be comfortable for some.

Your boundaries will be unique to you and your values. Take time to work out what your boundaries are. It will be much easier to maintain boundaries if you feel comfortable with them.

Find a boundary that works for you. Let’s say this is your new boundary:

 “I will not say sorry for someone else’s bad behaviour”.

This boundary means that you are showing others you are not a push-over. You demonstrate that this is where your line is and that you respect yourself enough to draw it. You say that it is important that others are accountable for their behaviour.

Be specific with what you need and look at other boundaries. Other boundaries could be:

“I will not apologise for things I didn’t do wrong”

“Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour”

“I will accept responsibility for things I do wrong and expect others do the same

2. Push back

Pushing back means saying ‘no’ to anyone testing these brand new sparkly boundaries. When you have established your boundaries, it is then about maintaining them.

People will test your boundaries to check how firm they are. Maintaining your boundaries will demonstrate to others that you are firm in your decisions. This shows that you value yourself for not taking the fall and that you have the character to admit it if you were wrong. You expect the same from others.

Be firm and consistent with boundaries. Consistency is predictable for you and others. This may be difficult, but it is important. Your boundaries reflect your view of yourself and your self-worth.

Firm boundaries send a strong message that you value yourself and how you see yourself and others is unwavering.

Pushing back may mean:

  • Asking for an apology when you feel it is required.
  • Calling out other people’s poor behaviour rather than owning it.
  • Actively saying, “I’m not apologising for something I didn’t do”.

3. Know that you are not responsible for others

Knowing the limits of your responsibility is important. You are not responsible for everything and everyone. You are responsible for yourself, just as others are responsible for themselves and their behaviour.

Other people’s behaviour comes with their own choices. You have the choice to treat people respectfully, take responsibility for your mistakes, and behave – as do others.

Let go of taking responsibility for others by understanding the limits of control and choice.

When you can let go of taking responsibility for others, you hold others to account. This will allow positive and respectful relationships to form.

When you have taken responsibility for your behaviour and allowed others to do the same, you are no longer the peace-keeper but an equal in your relationships.

Finally

  • You are not responsible for everything that goes wrong in your relationships.
  • You don’t need to apologise for other people’s bad behaviour.
  • Boundaries are vital for your self-worth.
  • Behaviour is a choice. You have a choice in how you act, and so does everyone else.

Photo by Erin Larson on Unsplash

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