Why do we always feel like we have to justify our actions, ideas, and thoughts to other people? I think women do it more than men, but it’s real. Instead of just saying, “No, thank you.” We come up with a whole host of excuses, reasons why we can’t do the thing or go to that place. It can be exhausting. Sometimes we resort to outright lies instead of simply stating our true feelings!
One of the things I have been trying to do better this year is not “excusing” myself. Dex asked me if I wanted to go with him to his son’s soccer game on a rainy Saturday afternoon where there MAY be metal bleachers, but maybe not. Instead of hemming and hawing or making an excuse such as “I think I might be with my friend then.” I said, “No. I do not want to do that today.”
Guess what? The sky didn’t fall, and our relationship didn’t end. He actually said, “No Doubt. I don’t even really want to go, but it’s my kid, so I have to!” I have done that before with him, and not once has something bad happened, he says ok, and we move on. So why the fear? Why all the stress we put ourselves through?
The pressure to “justify” literally means the pressure “to show something to be right.” Think about that. Why does this person have that psychological authority over you, to see if your reason is “right” or “wrong”?
In relationships, there is supposedly no “judge,” but only people who freely give love, time, and energy to each other. So how is it that a simple “no, thank you, but I am going to miss that dinner,” can immediately internally marshal emotional resources to “look for a good reason,” to make it a “right” decision? Why do you have to “justify” your “no”? No is a complete sentence in its own right. boundaries.me
I googled “Why do we make excuses instead of saying no,” and there were a ton of responses. Many of them were posts about “How to say no and not make excuses.” So it’s obvious that this is a common “problem” in our culture.
It feels good to say, “No, Thank you.” Or “Not for me, not today…” I am not talking about never helping people or going outside of our comfort zone for the benefit or sake of a friend. Of course, sometimes we do those things, and we should. But, as I mentioned above, standing in the rain for a soccer game when arthritis in my knees would be causing me extreme pain, there was no reason for me not to say no, and no reason to make an excuse either. Just No was fine and was accepted as such too.
The more we do it, the easier it becomes. This might sound silly, but recently I decided to stop eating food I don’t like. My boyfriend Dex loves brussels sprouts and broccoli. My ex-husband did too. The difference is that Dex knows I don’t like them, and when we cook together, he doesn’t insist we make them, or we make something separate for him to enjoy. When I was with my ex-husband, we ate both regularly, and I just went along with it. It’s silly. Why should I eat something I don’t enjoy. I don’t HATE them, but I don’t enjoy them. So, I am not going to eat them anymore. It shouldn’t be a “thing,” but it really was.
Same with going to museums when I travel. I can only enjoy a short period of time or would prefer to go to a museum with a specific theme that is interesting to me. Also, my knees are so bad that I will be in severe pain if I walk around in one for hours with you. It’s ok if you go. I am happy to hang out here, meet you later, whatever. I went to Copenhagen with a girlfriend before my knees were even that bad yet. She was so excited about the museum. I told her I would start with her, but I lost interest quickly. When I had enough, I told her I was going to the gift shop and cafe. I had a book and would buy a glass of champagne, have a snack and read. She could take her time as I would be comfortable and happy until she was done. It was great for both of us.
Anyway, recalling the times, I have said no, offered alternatives, or decided it was not for me helps me remember that it doesn’t hurt. Usually, it is met with understanding or even empathy. It is something that helps to encourage people to respect your boundaries too. So many good things can come from you no longer justifying your decisions every time. I am glad I have started down this path of trying to do this more often.
Here are a few other “random musings” posts you might enjoy: