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You Don’t Have to Explain Yourself

The Need to Justify Our Choices


“Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.” 

― Haruki Murakami


About a year ago, I was having a quick conversation with someone I had never met before, and this person saw my tattoos. I’m not covered in them, but I have a few which are visible if I’m wearing a shirt which has shorter sleeves.

And this person asked me about them. “What’s the meaning? Why did you get those?”

My tattoos are personal because they have a significant meaning to me. So I explained they all had a very personal meaning, and I got them because I like tattoos. They are also a way for me to remember certain events, people or milestones in my life.

I kept it brief and gave this person what I thought was a good enough explanation without getting too deep. It was sufficient as far as I was concerned. I even repeated it.

But this person kept questioning me until I finally said, “I don’t want to explain that to you.” Now, this may seem rude to some, but I don’t think it is. I had already given them an explanation which was enough for a stranger. Twice.

And it got me thinking about the need to go deeper with others just to be nice. The need to explain yourself. Many of us feel this need sometimes.

It also reminded me I don’t have to explain myself and my choices to anyone whom I don’t know or have an intimate relationship with. I don’t have to justify something which is very meaningful to me. I don’t have to justify anything. And I don’t need your approval for my decisions.

Neither should you. You don’t need to explain yourself.

explain yourself
Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

The choices you make are yours. And it’s none of anyone else’s business why you did something.

There are obvious exceptions like a spouse, a partner, a boss, etc. However, unless your decisions affect someone else, you don’t have to answer to anyone except yourself for the decisions you make. And the only person you have to please is you.

A lot of us feel this need to explain ourselves. Whether it be what we are pursuing for a career, our choice of partners, or even our appearance, we want to explain to others why we made that decision.

Why?

I have no clue. I don’t know why we feel the need to explain why we do what we do. I’m not sure if we feel the need to justify everything or what it is.

Maybe it’s because we want to be liked by everyone. Or Is it because we want to fit in with what everyone else is doing? To be “normal?” To not “rock the boat?”

It may be because we don’t want to be seen as rude. But in reality, the person who is constantly questioning and criticizing your choices and decisions (whether or not they know you) is the one who is rude.

You know why you made that decision. You have your reasons, and they are your reasons alone. That is good enough. No further explanation needed. It’s your life, not theirs. You don’t have to explain yourself.

Whether those choices are the right ones can only be determined over time, but that is not the point. You made those choices based on your own experiences and knowledge. Nothing anyone else can say or do will change the decisions you’ve already made.

So why waste time trying to explain something to someone who may not understand? Or doesn’t really want to understand?

They will think whatever they want, regardless. And I can’t control their thinking. I’m not talking about having a discussion about important topics where someone’s mind could be changed, I’m talking about your life decisions. Your everyday choices.

It’s none of their business!

explain yourself
Photo by Guido Jansen on Unsplash

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” — Unknown

I’ve written a lot about us as individuals. I understand we need others to have a healthy balance, but we need to take care of ourselves, too. YOU are the most important person in your life.

So stop feeling the need to explain yourself to others all the time. Make your decisions and stick to them. If you see you’ve made a mistake, then correct it. But correct them with your own choices, not someone else’s.

If the decisions you make please you, that is what is important. You don’t have to justify yourself. You don’t have to explain yourself. Because when you do, you are only pleasing everyone else.

My Ko-fi button

9 Comments

  1. jessica jessica

    This is wonderful, Thank you

    • jeffthewriter jeffthewriter

      Thank you, Jessica!

  2. Joanne Joanne

    Thank you for this Jeff. I have always in my mind, wanted to ‘not explain myself’ BUT it seems like it’s not working. I hope to learn more from you. I am sure this can be easily apply to strangers or least known friends…. what about having a husband that kept asking questions? I will give him a one sentence answer but it is always not even for him. So my next sentence will be … ” don’t ask anymore” … yes, direct BUT I can let you guess how he will feel… and guess what … I don’t care =)

    • Joanne Joanne

      oop… typo .. should be “…. not enough for him.”

    • jeffthewriter jeffthewriter

      I think it’s a bit different when it comes to your spouse. I believe you have to be able to communicate in a healthy way without getting defensive. I’m not very good at it and it is always a work in progress. But I guess my best advice is to maybe stop and think about why he is asking further questions. Is he trying to make conversation or is he wanting to try to connect with you? Obviously, context is key but what has helped me is not trying to infer what my partner is thinking or asking and just try to listen to the question without judgment. I’m usually wrong when I assume I know what she is thinking or why she is asking something. Maybe use it as an opportunity to find out why he is asking more questions.

  3. Natasha youngblood Natasha youngblood

    Thanks for this. I find myself ALWAYS explaining everything. I found myself explaining to my own self why I have my kindergartener be a car rider 2 or 3 days a week to an imaginary or potential future Inquirer. I do this a lot with many things and then feel uncomfortable and judged. Lol.

    • jeffthewriter jeffthewriter

      You’re welcome! And you are not alone at all. I still do it but I find that I catch myself a lot more often now that I’m aware of it. It gets easier over time. Thanks, Natasha!

  4. Satya dubey Satya dubey

    Thank you man!! I really wanted this right now

    • jeffthewriter jeffthewriter

      You’re welcome. Glad it was able to help.

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