Stop Explaining Yourself

It undermines your self-confidence and is a form of self-betrayal.

Enthusiastically, “I was offered the job at the local hospital that I applied for!”

Lukewarm, “Oh … are you going to take it?”

Dampened enthusiasm, “Yes! I’ve been hoping against hope I’d get the position.”

Subtly accusing, “You didn’t tell me you wanted that job.”

Awkward pause. “Well … I do.”

Slowly sinking the knife in, “Are you sure?”

And here the explanations begin.

OR … you can use this moment to take your life back.

Here is an opportunity that keeps presenting itself and up until now you haven’t known how to use it. When someone you care about challenges your decision, you cave in order to appease him or her. You start to sell yourself out. You begin to doubt. You don’t have the inner conviction to hold your ground.

Up until now.

Often, this is called people-pleasing, but it goes deeper than that. The inability to please ourselves, by staying aligned with what we know inside, is actually a sign of an undeveloped sense of self. At some point (or several points) during your childhood, your identity formation was interrupted. You weren’t seen, supported, nurtured, appreciated or understood … and therefore now you feel unsure and don’t see yourself accurately when it comes to making certain kinds of decisions.

Not to mention the loyalty oaths, spoken and unspoken, between family members and friends. If you stand by your decisions without second-guessing yourself, justifying your choices, and perhaps even backing out of them, you’re going to throw off the dynamic people have come to expect from you.

For whatever reason, people in your sphere may thrive on undermining your efforts in the name of being protective, and never admit to themselves that they are quelling their own anxieties, or indulging their own desire to feel smarter and more capable than you.

You’re unable to clearly see this, because people who are habitually self-doubting are usually naive about how manipulative other people can be.They are not evil, just complacent. It’s been satisfying for them to play the role of savior, and though you want them to stop, you don’t want to hurt them by knocking them off their high horse.

Yet, what if that is exactly what they need?

What if you developing self-loyalty and confidence leads to them gaining humility and surrendering some control? Wouldn’t that be a win-win? Here’s how the conversation would go:

Enthusiastically, “I was offered the job at the local hospital that I applied for!”

Lukewarm, “Oh … are you going to take it?”

Quietly confident, “Absolutely.”

Petulantly, “You didn’t tell me you wanted that job.”

Touch of a smile, “No, I didn’t.”

Irritably, “Well why not!?”

That’s not a real question so don’t answer. Best to change the subject.

Catch yourself when you start explaining anything to anyone and notice whether it’s necessary. Pay attention to how you’re feeling, emotionally and physically. If you’re apologetic, tense, anxious, worried about the other person’s feelings … or resentful but unable to express your anger, stop talking.

It will feel awkward at first, but wonderful, too.

Explaining is the way you’ve been giving your power away. For far too long. No better time to stop doing that than now.