Why do we feel we need to justify ourselves to others including what we want, what we say, and how we do things? Why are we somehow required to offer an explanation to others in order to do what is best for us? For many of us, asking our boss for a day off requires a strong reason to justify our need in their eyes. We may feel that telling a loved one that we won’t be participating in their celebration/moving day/carpool may require a high intensity need to justify our absence. What do we do if our need is not as important in their eyes? Some of us will tend to overshare what is happening in our lives as an unconscious aim at getting the support/sympathy/compassion that we truly want for ourselves. We feel that if we don’t have a good enough justification for our choices, others will be angry or think less of us which threatens our future connection with them. When a client of mine doesn’t enjoy riding with her friend, she says yes to the ride anyway, and feels stuck with the experience instead of telling the friend she will meet her at their shared destination. Her fear is that the friend will feel offended and tell others how horrible she is or abandon the friendship. Her ego tells her it’s better to weather the bad feelings, then risk losing that connection. Unfortunately, this belief has her focus on the other person and disconnect from herself, what she really wants and needs, and what works best for her. If she wants anything different than her friend, she feels that she must have a strong justification. Just feeling good (or not!) is not enough.
How did this happen to us? Why isn’t’ it OK to just want one thing or another without needing to justify it to ourselves or anyone else? Who are others to judge what we want for ourselves or what feels best to us? Who are we to judge what others want or what is right for them? We learned it as children – all of us. In an effort to guide/direct/control us, our caregivers tied conditions to us receiving what we wanted. It was a reward system that few of us learned to internalize so we could generate good feelings for ourselves. “Sit up straight, say please and thank you, be nice” etc. were the conditions we had to meet to feel good/get our caregiver’s approval, affection and interest. We still feel we have to prove that our needs are worthy to those we count on to meet them. When we feel that others hold the key to our well-being, we may feel the need to justify our choices to them to get their support. A part of us still thinks we are unable to take care of ourselves and that what we want and need comes from others, and we have to somehow earn that support. When we remember that WE are the one that is aware of and can choose what is best for us, we begin to stop expecting others to take care of our needs for us. We stop needing them to change, and we stop needing ourselves to be different. When we are OK with how it is for us and what works best for us, we can be OK with how others are and what works best for them without needing to make anyone right or wrong. Everyone’s needs and wants are worthy, and everyone has the same ability and responsibility to honor those for themselves. When we feel that we are OK, just the way we are and that we are doing the best we can to honor our needs and wants moment by moment, there is nothing to justify. I make choices because one choice feels better/works better for me and one does not. It’s not about me justifying myself to others or taking care of how others think and feel. It is about me taking care of me and honoring how I think and feel - period. When I take care of myself consistently, there is nothing to justify to anyone else – or even to myself. I’m doing my best to respond from the most loving place I can within myself, to myself and to others. That is enough.
What justification can you release today?
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