“What other people think of me is none of my business.” -Wayne Dyer
You’re visibly anxious before a performance evaluation, but you don’t want your coworker to think you’re neurotic—so you tell her about everything that’s riding on this promotion.
You feel subdued at a party, but you don’t want your new girlfriend to think you’re antisocial—so you tell her you have a lot on your mind.
You feel frazzled after a stressful day at work, but you don’t want your friend to think you’re a negative person—so you tell him it’s highly unlike you to let things get to you this way.
We often feel the need to justify our feelings, like everyone outside is watching and forming judgments. The truth is they often are. We all watch other people—it’s hard not to; they surround us. And we all judge other people on occasion—it’s often a reflection of how harshly we judge ourselves.
Knowing these things are inevitable, we’re left with two options:
- Constantly explain ourselves to preserve how we’d like to be seen, even though we can’t actually control that.
- Focus instead on feeling and learning from our emotions, since that’s something within our power.
Instead of pretending you feel fine—and explaining why it may seem otherwise—let yourself feel your emotions to so you can discover what you need to do to move past them. Instead of explaining why you don’t seem perfect, let yourself be human without apologies. We’re all imperfect; why hide it?
Sometimes it makes sense to explain yourself—when someone misunderstands, or when you hurt someone accidentally. But most often the only person who needs an explanation is you so you can ascertain, accept, and work through whatever is on your mind.
Today if you’re tempted to justify your emotions, remember: You can’t control what other people think. But if you can accept yourself in this moment, you may discover what you need to do to feel better–instead of just trying to look better.
Photo by wat suandok