A spouse’s anger
Have you ever felt the need to apologise for other people’s feelings? If so, it’s time to take a careful look at your boundaries, especially in relationships, H-C says. “People who were traumatised or bullied as kids often make themselves responsible for the emotional climate of those around them,” she explains. “The truth is, you are not responsible for another adult’s emotions and you should not apologise for them.” If your partner is trying to use their emotions to guilt you into an apology, that’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
A messy house
Do you live in fear of a neighbour or friend just “popping in” to say hello because of the state of your home and then find yourself apologising over and over again for the mess when they do? Cut yourself some slack in this area, H-C says. “You’re the one who is living there in the mess, not them,” she says. “Really you’re apologising to them for witnessing how you live, and you shouldn’t need to do that.” Instead, she says the best way to deal with this situation is a little humour—”So I’m thinking about becoming a professional organiser…”
When someone goes out of their way to help you
Many people say “I’m sorry” when what they really mean is “thank you,” says Amy Rollo, a psychotherapist. For instance, if you go to a full restaurant and the staff works hard to find a space for you, instead of apologising for inconveniencing them, express appreciation for their hard work, she explains. Both you and the other person will feel happier by focusing on the positive aspects of helping others.