That need to explain

I always feel the need to explain myself, to justify what I’m doing … it’s so silly and so time consuming..

You know what I’m talking about:

  • you decided to buy something cute for yourself, but you feel you have to explain why you did it (the fact that it was cute, you could afford it and you simply wanted it, isn’t enough) … isn’t enough? why not? others just do things for themselves all the time and they don’t feel bad.. why do I have to explain and justify what I do for myself? Why is it that if I put myself first I feel tremendous guilt…?
  • you decide not to go to that MBA program because it’s simply not for you, it’s not something you want to do, you’re NOT interested… yet you spend 2 years explaining why you don’t want to do it… and the guilt associated with it.. boy is it daunting and soon heavy… and really even after two years you still hear about it and you don’t have any more ways to explain that you just don’t want to do it
  • you decide to move to some country… oh man, you NEVER hear the end of it…
  • you decide to do something fun, but a bit messy… not a big deal, you will clean it up after you’re done, but it will be messy in the meantime… you feel soon guilty and the thought that you have to explain why you did it…

Ok… so being assertive is hard. But I have to practice it. Let’s see

It was my decision to have some fun. It was fun, we all had a great time. (and stop, nothing more to add, no “oh I was running out of ideas and decided to pain the house for fun. just period: I wanted us to have fun and we did.)

I decided to move away because that’s what I thought was best at that time. PERIOD (no more explanations of “oh well maybe there’ll be some good opportunities …)

I decided to take this job. It sounds good to me and I think I could do something great there. (no more justifying the fact that I need money, or that the opportunity presented itself and ……)

How about…. Today I will spend the day organising the house. (without… oh i’m sorry i can’t come and see you, and i’m sorry that you really wanted to do this with me and i’m sorry and i’m sorry…… STOP with over-apologising… boy am I good at that)

Yeah, apologise and apologise over and over again for choosing to do what I want. Why?

Well…. it probably goes back to that invalidating environment.. where my needs weren’t met, where it never mattered what I had to say, what I wanted..

But in a sense, that was then and now is now. Yeah. there are decades of “practice” where this behaviour became automated, where it became second nature, where it’s the go-to response… first I apologise … or better yet, I can’t say “no”..

So let’s remind myself what it means to be assertive… so I can practice it again.. and then re-structure my thinking to get over that stupid guilt I feel after I assert myself…

  • use I messages not You messages
  • state your point clearly & honestly
  • keep the tone calm and firm
  • look the person in the eye, stay strong
  • present the facts only
  • no judgements!
  • practice practice practice

* here’s a great resource on asserting yourself


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  1. Trackback: 31 DAYS OF BPD: DAY 6: HOW’S YOUR LOVE LIFE? | Borderline & PMDD

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