Do you ever find yourself making excuses for your choices or your current situation, whether it is the industry you are working in, why you never went back to school, why you do or don’t have kids, or why you are single? Self-defense in the form of personal justification can be toxic, and when we do it, we make ourselves sound even more guilty for no reason at all. When we are unsure of our own decisions, we tend to go into defense mode about them, because we don’t know how other people are going to view them. Sometimes we don’t even know how we feel about them ourselves, and inviting criticism from others can be nerve racking.
The defending, explaining and justifying never seems to change anything and, instead, tends to anchor us more deeply in the issue that needs to be addressed.
Whatever you are doing, whether you are working, staying home with your kids, going to school; there is a reason why you decided to make that choice. Why did you want that for yourself? Stop questioning your choice. Remember your “why“. Write it down. Stop thinking about who is judging you, or looking at you, or questioning your worth. The only thing you should worry about is if you are making the right choice for you, your family, and your goals.
I still have the hardest time with this as I am finishing up my MBA as a stay at home mom. I feel like I am stuck between two worlds and have no idea what my future is going to look like. Will I be home with the kids? Will I be working or starting my own business? Where will my regrets lie? The truth is, I have no idea. I don’t know what the ideal future looks like for me and it took several years for me to stop feeling like I had to justify staying home with my babies by going to school or by saying that it is just a temporary situation. I took a real perspective change on my life and what I am grateful for now and I finally said, “I want this, I want to be home with my kids.” I don’t care who judges me for a gap in my resume or for putting my career on hold. I needed to stop making excuses that made me feel like it was okay to be doing it. I am staying home because this is what feels right…right now. Not forever, maybe not next year, but now. This is what I want. I don’t have to pretend like it is some temporary free ride that I am taking. It is HARD work!
Our ego is designed to protect and defend us from unpleasant feelings. The result of all of our defensive tactics is that we start to lose touch with ourselves. This makes it harder for us to deal with our deeper feelings and we drive them deeper where they feel hidden, but are never really resolved or understood.
We can dissolve our egos by standing by our decisions and stop feeling like we are doing things for the approval of other people. Be the best working mom, stay at home mom, student, or corporate executive that you can be and OWN IT. Maybe next year or six months from now it wont be right anymore, and that’s okay. The fact that you are even worrying about it says that you are on the right path. But stop. Just enjoy where you are now. If you are working and feel like you are missing out on your kids lives, be grateful to have your expertise, and to be providing for your family. If you are staying home, stop associating your worth with a paycheck. You can always go back. Forget what people will think about you. You don’t work for them, you work for you!
Once you stop feeling sorry for your situation and realize that you don’t have to apologize or explain to anyone, you can ditch your ego and find your true path. Are you truly happy where you are? Forget what everyone thinks about you. Odds are, you are magnifying it in your mind. Everyone is too caught up in their own lives to sincerely worry about judging you 24/7. If you are worried about making a mistake; make it, and learn from it. It will help you grow.
Make your own decision that feels right to you and you might encourage someone to do the same by doing so. Next time you feel like someone is judging you or questioning your path, own it. Tell them straight up what you are doing. No need to explain anything, just be proud because that’s where you are right now because that is the decision that you made for yourself, for your own reasons, and no one else’s.