I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks, probably because I have found myself justifying what I have been doing on occasions which has led me to other conversations with clients about why we all feel this need to justify certain behaviours or actions?

I’m sure the self employed, the freelancers will empathise in particular with the example I am about to give you; There was a particularly glorious afternoon last week and I had a space in my diary so decided to take my dog for an extended walk on the beach, looking forward to enjoying the sunshine, I came across a colleague who seem surprised to see me out in the middle of the afternoon and commented “Oh the joys of the self employed, alright for some skiving off in the middle of the day!” Now, I didn’t mention that he too appeared to be enjoying a walk in the sunshine and was not at work, instead I explained in detail that 2 of my clients had rescheduled their sessions that afternoon leaving me with an unexpected gap and yes, wasn’t I lucky to be able to get out for a walk!

I walked away feeling cross with myself. What did it matter? Why did I need to do that? Actually, what did it have to do with him? But that’s what we do don’t we? Someone questions our behaviour and we resort to naughty child and feel the need to explain what we are doing and why? What could I have said instead? “I’m having a lovely walk, what great weather, aren’t we lucky?” and left it at that……..

Ironically, I bumped into same gentleman on Saturday morning who also felt the need to comment about me rushing home from my early dog walk because I was coaching that morning! “What? Coaching on a Saturday, that’s no good, you need better work life balance you do!” I didn’t point out that that’s exactly what I had and instead of justifying myself again, I laughed and just said “Oh I love it” (which I do.)

So that’s just one example but isn’t it interesting how often we feel the need to explain to others why we are doing what we are doing? Obviously there are times when this is required especially if your actions affect others and what others are doing but how would it feel if we could be confident enough in ourselves and our choices, actually our lifestyle choices that we felt no need for justification?

I don’t want to explain to others about my working hours, they’re my working hours. I don’t want to explain to others why I am avoiding certain social events at the moment, I want to be able to say “really sorry I can’t come, I hope you have a great time” and be done with it. I want to be able to decide what I want to do with my family at Christmas, tell others without a long winded explanation as to why I’m doing it the way I am!

One of the things that i’ve been discussing with clients who are experiencing similar is the fact that we are adults and are capable of making choices for ourselves so one of my clients has come up with this mantra to remind herself and I’m going to use it too; “I’m an adult, I can choose to do things the way I want and need to do them that suit me and my family and as long as I’m not hurting anyone else, that’s my decision and I don’t need to explain myself to anyone!”

If feels quite liberating actually and its only take 52 years for me to feel confident enough to practice it but that’s okay, it’s never too late to make changes to enhance your life and this feels like a significant one.

What do you find yourself justifying? How could you reframe it? Maybe think of some examples and then work out what you could say instead so that next time you’re put in that position you have an alternative positive response up your sleeve? I bet it makes a difference to how you feel about not only your decision making process but you as a functioning adult.