6 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone

Don’t Give What You Don’t Want to Give

Too often, we give too much of ourselves to other people, or act in certain ways simply to please someone else. Whether we give our time or our energy or even physical help or comfort, many of us feel burnt out from our interactions with others because we don’t set adequate boundaries.

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Being clear about what you owe other people, and what you absolutely don’t, is essential for maintaining healthy relationships and ensuring that you’re not getting taken advantage of by so-called friends, family members, coworkers and acquaintances. Here are just six of the things you definitely do not need to give anyone, ever.

1. You Don’t Owe Anyone an Apology for Being Who You Are
You’ve heard it time and time again—you’re too loud, too shy, too professional, too casual, too friendly, too standoffish, too much …. you get the idea, right? Realize that you’re not going to please everyone and it’s definitely not your job to do so when it comes to who you are. Your personality is what makes you unique, and unless you’re truly an awful person who insults others by your demeanor and words, you should never have to say you’re sorry for being your special self.

2. You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation for Why You’re Single
Maybe you don’t have time to meet someone special. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to make an online dating profile but you’re scared to. Or, you simply have some other reason why you’re unattached. It doesn’t matter—your love life (or lack thereof) is your business and your business alone. Prying friends and relatives may demand an explanation but it’s not your job to placate them with the reason you’re unattached.

3. You Don’t Owe Anyone a “Yes” When You Want to Say “No”
From a party you just don’t feel like attending to an unwanted sexual advance, you should always confidently say no when you want to. You don’t need to please other people with your presence, or your body, for that matter. Stay true to yourself—your values, your priorities and your time commitments. Only say yes to what you want to say yes to.

4. You Don’t Owe Anyone a Justification for Taking Time for Self-Care
Don’t let anyone make you feel selfish for taking time for yourself. Caring for you, first and foremost, allows you to have the emotional capacity to care for others, after all. You need time to take care of yourself physically (by working out, doing yoga or eating right), mentally (by journaling, taking long walks or playing with your dog) and spiritually (by meditating or going to a house of worship). Making time for these things shouldn’t be an afterthought. And anyone who tells you otherwise certainly doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

5. You Don’t Owe Anyone an Ear for Complaints, Gossip or Other Negativity
When someone expects you to listen to him or her yammer on and on about why life is so terrible or how his or her coworker is the worst or some other tiresome soliloquy steeped in negative thoughts, it is 100% your right to opt out. You don’t need to be someone else’s dumping ground for everything that’s wrong with them or their current situation, whether it’s personal or professional. While it’s nice to be able to commiserate with someone now and again, if you’re feeling drained by someone’s constant complaining, you certainly don’t need to continue being the target of all of that pessimism.

6. You Don’t Owe Anyone a Dismissal of a Compliment so You Don’t Seem Full of Yourself
You might find yourself in the habit of waving off nice things people say to you—how great you look or how capable you are—for fear that if you accept their compliments you may come off as big-headed. Don’t do this: Instead, graciously accept the nice things people say to you with pride. Be grateful that you have people in your life who admire you and show them your gratitude by acknowledging their kind words with tact.

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7 thoughts on “6 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone

  1. Kimiko

    These are great…we, as women, tend to think we owe everyone an explanation for everything or an apology or whatever in order to be kind, mannerly, or acceptable to society. It’s time we stand up for ourselves. However, if a friend in need comes to you and needs to vent, the polite thing is to ask first….I really need to vent, may I have your ear for a few minutes? then if the receiving party says yes, then it is okay, but please don’t just start dumping woes on another person without some kind of advance warning. That is only fair.

  2. Andrea

    Thank you I read this earlier and thought meh…. I just thought about it again and omg I was ready to give up before I went to bed now I feel redeemed.

  3. Shoni

    I needed to hear that I am kind hearted and people take it for granted you get tired of it as I’ve allowed other’s mess to hold me down and back I’m in space to change that .. Thanks!


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