"Look at what you bring to the world, not what you lack." - Miranda Kate

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Kill Justificiation: How to Stop Feeling You Have to Explain Yourself

Image of sunrise over boat on a river in the countryside with text: You are worthy, you don't need to justify why!Do you find yourself explaining your actions or feelings to others?

Do you feel that you are required to do so?

Do you feel that your answer won’t be accepted unless you do – or that YOU won’t be accepted unless you do?

Justifying our feelings or actions is an indication that we feel insecure about who we are. It is a form of seeking external approval. It comes from a fear that our actions won’t be approved of, or accepted – as though we feel we have to convince others of their validity, and on some level, of our own validity.

When we justify ourselves to others we give away our personal power. We give away our choice about how we feel or think, believing that unless someone else approves, we can’t either.

I would often find myself going into long drawn out explanations about why I did something, especially if I wasn’t sure if the person I was talking to would approve of it. It might be over something trivial, like a musician I liked, books I liked, things I liked doing, or something more in depth, like why I parented the way I did, why I had becomes friends with someone – always I felt I had to justify myself.

My mother always worked on the assumption that because I was her daughter I had to like everything she did, and if I didn’t she would create an argument about it. She would consider it a negation of her if I didn’t, and take it as a personal sleight and get upset. And the upset thus taught me that it was easier to pretend I did like what she wanted me to, to please her and keep the peace.

Unfortunately this meant I learnt a bad habit early on: to either pretend I liked something to please others, or go into detailed reasons why I liked it to try and validate it and gain approval. Sadly though, this resulted in me either not knowing what I really liked, or humiliating myself by over explaining, and getting a sense that it put the other person off, creating an awkward, tense situation. Often I would walk away feeling like I had said too much, and feel bad about myself.

Stop letting people that do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions. – Will Smith

This pattern of behaviour was highlighted to me when I realised I didn’t behave this way around everyone. There were some people I could be around who I expressed myself clearly with, defined my likes and dislikes, and who I felt accepted by, because they didn’t expect anything from me.

It was brought to my attention when I visited a friend with an ex-boyfriend. My relationship with this ex-boyfriend wasn’t good. I was always on tender hooks, unsure he was happy with me. I felt I had to live up to an image he had of me. He would often argue with me about my opinions and view. After we visited my friend he commented how relaxed I had been in their company, confident and happy, and he asked why I wasn’t that way with him anymore.

I realised my friend had never expected or wanted me to be anyone else; I could discuss my tastes and opinions with them, and they wouldn’t argue with them – whether they agreed with them or not. They respected me, and my thoughts and feelings, so I could be myself with them.
And if there were people that I had to justify or explain myself to then I had to move away from them, because they weren’t helping me, they were taking something away from me. They were the wrong people, possibly toxic people.

Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of – it’s yours. - Zero Dean

It made me realise that I shouldn’t have to explain myself or defend my choices to anyone. I realised I had a right to feel and think any way I chose, as long as it didn’t hurt anyone. I was worthy, and I didn’t need to justify why.

But doing this is not so easy, so I broke it down into a step by step process.

1)    Listen to yourself – feel your feelings about things, and acknowledge them;
2)    Be honest with yourself – don’t alter anything to suit others. Being different is okay;
3)    Follow your heart when you make decisions by trusting yourself – and you do that by doing the first step;
4)    Believe in yourself - know that you are a good person;
5)    Be confident in your feelings and choices, then you won’t need to seek someone else to.

Be who you are. Think the way you do. Be who you are.

You are worthy, you don’t need to justify why!

Can you relate? Let me know in the comments. 


  1. Again, something I've had to fight for years! My girls will tell you that...thankfully they love me no matter my opinions and tell me so too.
    It is great when you finally know it doesn't matter what others think, and opinions can vary greatly and within healthy parameters and people will still love you! :)

    1. I suddenly heard myself one day in the middle of explaining myself, and I stopped. Now I tend not to speak in the company of people who might not share my viewpoints, or opinions, particularly in groups, or just talk about surface stuff.

      I hear it far more in others these days, and reassure them that they don't have to do that!