The other day I went to an AT&T store because I had no cell service.
And almost immediately, I apologized for asking the rep to spend time finding a solution. Expounding on why I needed to inconvenience them to do their job.
As if I personally went into AT&T’s server and shut off my number, with the sole intention of making them spend an hour helping me.
This left me asking: why do I need to explain myself? For things that happened to me, for decisions I made for me?
So if you find yourself constantly explaining your actions or decisions to others like me, I see you.
This article is for you.
Recent examples of explaining myself when I didn’t need to
There have been a few times in recent months when I’ve felt the need to explain myself, even though I absolutely didn’t need to.
Here’s a few; let me know if any have you saying, “me too!”:
- Why I quit my job
- Why I ended a relationship
- Why I stopped running
- Why I chose to cancel plans to take a “me day”
- Why I didn’t want to drink
And when I tried to explain myself, I felt silly or started second-guessing my decision. Or guilty. Or going back on my intentions.
Which is counterproductive to my growth and goals.
So I wanted to know why I kept cycling through the same pattern.
Understanding the need to explain oneself
At some point in our lives, we have all found ourselves in a position where we feel the need to explain ourselves.
Perhaps it’s a decision, an action we took, or a behavior we exhibited. Whatever the case, the desire to explain ourselves can be strong and pervasive, stemming from a desire for acceptance and approval from others.
We want others to understand and see us in a positive light. This can be especially true when we feel misunderstood or judged by others. In these situations, we may feel the need to provide additional information or context to help others see things from our perspective.
The need to explain ourselves can also stem from a fear of negative consequences. We may worry that if we don’t explain our actions satisfactorily, we will face criticism, rejection, or even punishment.
In some cases, we may also fear that our actions will have negative consequences for others, which can further increase our desire to explain ourselves.
Recognizing when it’s simply not necessary to explain yourself
It’s important to recognize that there will be times when explaining yourself is simply not necessary or productive. That you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choices or actions.
So if you feel like you’re being pressured to explain yourself, take a step back and assess the situation. Ask yourself if an explanation is truly necessary or if you’re just feeling insecure or defensive.
And while in some cases, it may be helpful to provide a brief explanation to clear up any misunderstandings or to help others understand your perspective, if you find yourself constantly justifying your decisions or feeling like you need to defend yourself, it may be time to take a step back and reassess your priorities.
8 ways to overcome anxiety and stop explaining yourself
Feeling the need to explain yourself can be a common behavior in social situations. While it may stem from a desire to be understood or avoid conflict, it can also manifest from anxiety or the fear of being judged or rejected.
This is why it’s important to remember that you deserve to be true to yourself and prioritize your own needs and that saying “no” is an important step in achieving this. With time and practice, you can learn to overcome anxiety and stop explaining yourself.
So if you frequently explain yourself and feel like you can’t just be yourself in social situations, here are some tips to help you stop explaining yourself and start feeling more confident and authentic.
1. Recognize that it’s okay not to have all the answers
One of the biggest drivers of the need to explain oneself is a fear of not having all the answers.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay not to know everything and that it’s perfectly normal to make mistakes or have differing opinions from others. Accepting that you don’t need to explain everything can help you feel more relaxed and confident in social situations.
2. Practice self-awareness
Another important step to stop explaining yourself is to practice self-awareness. When you feel the need to explain yourself, ask yourself why.
Are you trying to defend yourself or protect others? Are you seeking approval or understanding? By understanding your intentions, you can better determine whether explaining yourself is the right course of action.
Once you understand the root of your behavior, you can start to work on changing it.
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3. Consider Your Audience
Before explaining yourself, consider your audience. Are they open-minded and receptive to your perspective? Are they likely to judge or criticize you?
By understanding your audience, you can better determine whether explaining yourself will be productive or counterproductive.
4. Develop self-compassion
It is essential to develop self-compassion when dealing with anxiety about explaining yourself.
Recognize that it is normal to feel anxious or uncomfortable in these situations and that it is okay to make mistakes. Be kind and supportive of yourself, just as you would be to a friend who was struggling.
5. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries can be a powerful way to stop explaining yourself.
Be clear about your values, beliefs, and boundaries, and communicate them respectfully and assertively. Remember that you have the right to prioritize your needs and express yourself in a way that feels authentic.
6. Practice saying “no”
One of the best ways to overcome anxiety around saying “no” is to practice doing it.
Start by saying “no” to small requests and gradually work up to more significant ones. Remember that it is okay to say “no” and that doing so does not make you a bad person or friend.
And remember, saying “no” is not rude or selfish but essential to setting boundaries and prioritizing your needs.
7. Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can also reduce the need to explain yourself.
When you find yourself starting to explain or justify yourself, take a moment to pause, breathe, and connect with your body and your feelings. Focus on the present moment and try to let go of any judgments or worries about the past or the future.
8. Surround yourself with supportive people
Surround yourself with people who support and accept you for who you are.
When you are with people who respect your boundaries and values, you are less likely to feel the need to explain yourself or justify your actions.
Why do I feel the need to explain myself?: Get to the root of your “why”
When you explain yourself, you may seek understanding and approval from others or, as is more often the case, yourself. But whether it’s out of habit, insecurity, or just wanting to connect with people, this feeling is normal and natural.
Learning when we should express ourselves often takes wisdom, empathy, and practice – but only you know what’s right for you.
Understanding why we need to explain ourselves helps us create healthier boundaries and gives us control over how much or little we share with others.
Wishing you abundance,