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. We all 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.
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.
It occurs everywhere, even here on Medium. We feel we need to explain why we write what we write. Or our headline choices or why all our stories are locked.
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!
“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.