Why Explain When There is No Need?

Bill Abbate

Photo created by Author in PP

We humans are living, walking, breathing assumption machines. A great deal of every life is assumption-based. From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, we make many assumptions. Psychology Today claims the average person can make up to 35,000 decisions each day! How many of those decisions are dependent upon assumptions?

Sometimes, our assumptions are correct, and other times they are so far off it can be ridiculous! Then there are assumptions between these extremes. If we make an assumption about how the day will go, we may or may not be correct. Assuming something on your schedule will happen may not turn out to be true.

Many assumptions are harmless, but where assumptions can turn bad and cause harm is when people are involved.

When we make an assumption about something static, it is one thing, but when we make an assumption about something as complex as a human being, we can be far off.

"Assumptions are the termites of relationships." Henry Winkler (1945-present)

Many assumptions about others involve a great deal of judgment about the person based on their looks, what they say, or their behavior. A recent YouTube video series puts some of this into perspective. The presenter says she will "Rip off the assumptions stuck to your thinking about the way things are, what other people think and feel, and who you're supposed to be." Her first video in this series is about "self-justification."

Rather than explain what she says, let's look at the author's words verbatim. This is with her permission, of course.

If you prefer to watch her video, click here: MyMentorJane.

Assuming you must justify yourself

"I overheard someone complaining that when she turned down a free concert ticket, her friend wouldn't take no for an answer. She explained she was sooo busy, had to drive her kids to practice; she worked late, blah blah blah! I wanted to ask her, "Why do you assume you have to justify yourself."

Assumptions are everywhere: My boss disagrees with me, so I assume she doesn't value my opinion; My son doesn't look up when I say hello I assume he's ignoring me. Could it be something else?

Think of assumptions as shortcuts our mind takes to explain what's happening. The frustrated woman assumed that just because her friend wasn't happy with her answer, she owed her an explanation. She may also have assumed that she was responsible for helping her friend use up the extra ticket.

There may be times when explaining yourself is necessary, like to your boss when you're going to miss a deadline. And it's a good idea to explain to your husband why you haven't returned his calls all day.

But how many times do you automatically justify or explain your decision because you assume you owe the other person an explanation or that they have to be ok with what you answer?"

Dealing with this assumption

"Here's a lightbulb moment. When we feel the need to explain ourselves, it's not because of other people that we do it. It's to satisfy one of our needs:

  1. We yearn to be accepted, not rejected
  2. We need to prove that we're right
  3. We want to protect the image we're trying to project; And when we do we:
  • Waste time and energy that cannot be retrieved
  • Diminish ourselves
  • Risk our integrity as we resort to exaggerations and lies

Those are not fruits of a good life!

  • Is this YOUR life?
  • Are you doing the best you can?
  • Are you being honest and respectful?

Let me rip off that bandaid!.. You don't have to justify yourself. Notice when you start explaining what you think, do, or decide. Ask yourself, why?"

You can watch the MyMentorJane video at:


Final thoughts

That final question is a good one! Why do we feel we need to justify ourselves to so many about so much? This need to justify has more to do about us than about them!

The next time you feel the need to justify something, stop and think about what Jane said above. Ask yourself, "Why?" is there a valid reason you need to explain or justify yourself, or is it completely unnecessary? Why not choose to live a better life and leave the assumption you need to justify everything to everyone behind.

I leave you with some words of wisdom from a well-known American actor:

"Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in." Alan Alda (1936-present)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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