Frequently, we feel the need to justify our feelings as if everyone around us is watching us, expecting certain behaviors and forming judgments based upon our actions. While it is true that most people are subconsciously judging us, it is also true that we are all guilty of watching and judging other people. We are, after all, human. Unfortunately, some people seem to have an inherent need to try to control situations and other people. They do this by questioning motives and actions. It is to be expected that some people you meet will feel that you need to explain yourself to them. The truth of the matter is, however, that you do not need to explain yourself to anyone. No one is entitled to your information and you should not be intimidated into providing it to satisfy curiosity.
If someone asks you for an explanation regarding your actions or your past, you do not need to get defensive or apologetic. In fact, you don’t even need to respond at all. Take a moment and consider if the person in front of you actually needs or deserves an explanation. Then, consider your impulse to comply. There is no social obligation to explain yourself, so move past any perceived obligation you may be considering and decide what you want to share on a case by case basis. Try to move on without getting defensive because defensiveness can lead to assumptions. If you do not feel the situation or person warrants an explanation, a simple “I don’t feel comfortable sharing that information” can defuse the situation. You can also let the person know that you consider their request a little too personal. Just remember, the time you spend on explanations can be better spent focusing on something more relevant to your life.
There are many things that you do not owe anybody an explanation for. Below are my personal picks for the top 6 items for which you owe no explanation.
- Living situation – It does not matter where you live or who you live with as long as you are fully aware of the situation and capable of making that decision.
- Life Priorities – Your goals, aspirations, and dreams are unique to you and you get to decide their priority.
- Spending time alone – You do not owe anyone an explanation for wanting to spend time alone. It’s okay to be alone. You are great company and alone time can be a great way to reconnect with yourself.
- Physical appearance – If you want to color your hair, get a tattoo, get a piercing, have plastic surgery, or gain/lose weight, it is your business and you have no need to explain your choice to anyone. Your self-worth does not depend on external factors and you do not need to seek approval. Be who you are, not who you are expected to be.
- Personal faith – You are unique and have the right to decide what you believe in without explaining your choice. If you desire to engage in a theological debate, by all means do, but never feel that you owe anyone an explanation your personal faith.
- Personal relationships – Your relationship status is your personal choice. That includes a choice of partner and a level of commitment. You do not owe anyone an explanation for being in (or out of) a relationship. Unsolicited relationship advice is inappropriate. Unless you are in danger, it is not necessary for anyone to ask you whether you and your partner are considered an acceptable pair. It is your life and you deserve to be happy. If you make mistakes, learn from them, take responsibility for them, and move forward with your life.
Remember, to explain yourself is considered weak and people can use your explanations against you. The time you spend on explanations can be better spent focusing on your desired outcomes for your life. The people who really appreciate you – the ones closest to you who care the most - do not need any explanation at all. They already understand you because, for them, you are enough.
For others who are not close to you, it is important to realize that you do not need to tell them about your actions or your reasons because they might try to influence your activities and motives. While those people may have good intentions and think they are trying to help you, this help is seldom needed or appreciated. In fact, unsolicited advice can be stressful and lead to anxiety or depression. You will not learn anything helpful by having others judge your thoughts or actions. As Shel Silverstein said, “Never explain what you do. It speaks for itself. You only muddle it by talking about it.” As long as you are okay with your decisions and values, outside influences have very little to offer. Simply put, stop explaining yourself. If you want to explain yourself, go ahead, it’s your choice. Just don’t feel obligated. You do not have to waste your time to satisfy someone else’s curiosity or misplaced sense of entitlement.