post written by: Marc Chernoff

16 Things You Shouldn’t Have to Justify to Anyone Else


16 Things You Shouldn’t Have to Justify to Anyone Else

Don’t change so someone will like you.  Be yourself and the right ones will love the real you.

Will the people in your life always support your decisions?  No, they won’t.  But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating yourself.   Your life is yours alone.  Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you.  They can walk with you, but not in your shoes.  So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to walk alone and pave your own path when you know it’s the right thing to do.

Make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.”  Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in or something that makes you who you are.  People will inevitable judge you at some point anyway, and that’s OK.  You affected their life; don’t let them affect yours.

And when you need a quick reminder or a dose of encouragement, refer to this list of things you shouldn’t have to justify to anyone else:

  1. Why you’re putting yourself first. – During a 2011 television interview, Michelle Obama was asked if she thought it was at all selfish that she has openly admitted to making herself her first priority, to which the First Lady replied, “No, not at all.  It’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else.  And one of the things that I want to model for my children is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”  Spot on advice if you ask me!  There are only a few people in this world who will stay 100% true to you, and YOU should be one of them.  Prioritize your own needs into your daily to-do’s.
  2. The need to express your emotions. – Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional.  There’s no reason to be ashamed for feeling something or acting out on it if it’s real to you.  It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others know it.  Showing your emotions is a sign of human strength.  The people who judge you for being human, and not being modest, emotionless, and “in line,” are the ones who need to apologize.
  3. Your weirdness. – Where’s your will to be weird?  Where’s your resolution to be real?  Truth be told, it’s not weird to be weird.  Everybody is weird in some way.  You must celebrate your individuality and not be embarrassed of it.  If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t be ashamed and don’t hide it.  (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
  4. Being unapologetically YOU. – We are never more alive than when we are being brave, and we can’t be brave unless we are willing to take off our masks and be ourselves.  It’s about finding the courage to be real.  When perfectionism of any kind is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the backseat driver.  Don’t do this to yourself.  Let go of trying to be “perfect” in the eyes of others, and just be who you are.
  5. Not taking things personally. – When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless worrying and suffering.  Some people may tell you it’s best to stand up for yourself and fight back, but the best offense is always a good defense.  Defend yourself from others by not taking the things they say and do personally.  Truth be told, if you take everything personally, you will remain offended for the rest of your life.  What other people do is because of them, not you.  Period.
  6. Deciding to forgive. – Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something.  Forgiveness, on the other hand, is for those who are confident enough to stand on their own two legs and move forward.  In order to move forward, you must know why you felt the way you did, and why you no longer need to feel that way.  It’s about accepting the past completely, letting it be, and lifting your spirit with good intentions.  Nothing empowers your ability to heal and grow as much as your love and forgiveness.
  7. Who you choose to spend your time with. – In the end, the best investment of your limited time on Earth will be to spend it with people you love.  Although it’s perhaps conceivable that you may lie on your deathbed someday regretting that you didn’t work harder and check every little thing off your to-do list, it’s doubtful that your work will be your biggest concern.  What’s more likely, however, is that you will wish you could have one more romantic night with your spouse, another long, heartfelt talk with your sister, and one last good hard laugh with your best friend.  Life is too short to be too busy for the people you love.
  8. Not perfectly measuring up to everyone else’s progress. –  Don’t compare your progress in life with that of others.  We all need our own time to travel our own distance.  In fact, two of the most amazing couples I know didn’t meet each other until they were in their late 30’s.  One of these couples just had their first child in their early 40’s.  The lesson here is simple: Great things in life don’t happen when society tells you they’re supposed to happen – they happen when they’re meant to be.  So remember, you don’t have to make excuses about why you aren’t married with children, or working a traditional 8-5 job, or making a certain amount of money, etc.  Our lives are not all meant to be scripted the same exact way.
  9. Why you have failed, and why you aren’t scared to fail again. – Failure is the opportunity to begin again, smarter than before.  Forget what others have told you.  Fail often, fail fast, clean it up, learn from it, move on, and then repeat.  Just because things didn’t work out for you today, doesn’t mean there’s not something big in store for you tomorrow.  Rest easy and get ready.  Don’t waste your energy justifying yourself to the naysayers.  (Read The Success Principles.)
  10. The young-minded, foolish things you once did. – I don’t entirely approve of some of the things I have done in my life.  But I am me.  And I would not be me if I hadn’t learned along the way.  The same is true for you.  All wise old people were once young and foolish; that’s how they became wise.  Don’t be ashamed of who you had to be to get to where you are today.
  11. Dressing down and not looking all fixed up every second. – Angel and I have helped thousands of coaching clients overcome self-esteem issues, and physical appearance almost always has something to do with it.  As a client we coached this morning put it, “Whenever I leave the house looking anything less than airbrushed and fashionable and then run into someone I know, I tend to feel the need to apologize for not looking a certain way.”  That’s ludicrous!  You don’t have to apologize to someone else for not looking a certain way; you have to apologize to yourself for feeling like you had to in the first place.
  12. Your healthy eating habits. – Too often our culture associates healthy eating habits with fad diets and weight loss marketing schemes.  But there’s also something called healthy eating as a means to actual good health, not weight loss, not some crazy diet, or anything else.  Why do we need to stand up for ourselves when we choose to eat healthy?  Because for some reason, people tend to be skeptical that a person would actually just want to treat their body right and not be perpetually concerned with their shape and size.  Eat healthy because it’s good for your health.  Ignore the critics.
  13. Working extra hard on your dreams. – When people try to inspire you, they’ll often tell you all kinds of sensible and heartfelt things like: “Follow your dreams.  Listen to your heart.  Find your inner voice and let it sing.  Change the world.  Make your mark.  Embrace your challenges.  Keep dreaming big.  Dream some more.  In fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.”  And all of this is fine and dandy, but the problem is a lot of people dream… and that’s all they do.  And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really remarkable, passionate, and powerful people, are busy doing something with their dreams.  Be one of them.
  14. Choosing to smile through your struggles. – Not every day will be good, but there will be something good about every day.  Notice it.  Ignore the negativity around you.  None of us know the exact paths we will travel or the trials that will come our way.  The secret is to find joy in the journey.  The more obstacles you overcome, the stronger you become.  Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; you just get stronger and more resilient.  Smiling and appreciating each step you take is the smartest choice.  Your positivity will help you realize that sometimes the bad things that happen in your life put you on a direct path to the best possible things that could ever happen to you.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  15. The things you hope for. – They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.  I couldn’t agree more.  We all do a lot of talking about the importance of the first two, but don’t forget to nurture your hope too.  And remember, hope isn’t the belief that life will always give you what you want; it’s the belief that life will gradually reveal what’s right.
  16. Why you feel completely justified already. – You don’t need a standing ovation or a bestseller or a promotion or a million bucks.  You are enough right now.  You have nothing to justify.  Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself.  You will have less heartaches and disappointments the minute you stop seeking from others the justification only YOU can give yourself.

Bottom line:  Constantly trying to justify yourself to everyone else forces you to miss out on the beauty of simply being yourself, with your own unique ideas, desires, and life experiences.  If you are led through life only doing and being what you’ve come to believe is expected of you, then, in a way, you cease to live… you merely exist.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

Do more than just exist!  We all exist.  The question is: Do you live?

The floor is yours…

How has the need to justify yourself to others interfered with your life?  What has it stopped you from doing?  How have you coped?  Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.

Photo by: Brandon Warren

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53 Comments

  • I like point #4 the best. Just be yourself. Be unapologetically you. It’s so important. Also, I read this somewhere recently: Fake people have an image to maintain; Real people just don’t care.

  • What has caused me to try to please others and justify myself to them is low self-esteem and self-worth. I am now trying to find my voice for the first time in my life. It’s hard, and I know it will be a journey. Feeling like I am worthy is something I’m not used to, but I’m hoping that if I can work on my self-esteem, then standing taller will come more naturally.

    This world puts such an emphasis on being ‘perfect’, and my heart goes out to kids growing up in this unrealistic society. I wish more campaigns for ‘being yourself’ were in place for kids nowadays.

    Thank you for this article. I am just discovering your blog (and I just bought your book) and cannot wait to read more.

  • Great tips! Live for today. Live for yourself.

  • I have spent most of my life trying to gain approval. Even in my adult life I have felt the need to be accepted. Not realizing what wonderful qualities I have to share and that make me who I am. It took me up to a month ago to learn from someone I hadn’t seen for more than half my life, that I am still the same quirky, inquisitive, funny and smart girl I was back then. I have picked a new path and it will be difficult, but at least it will be mine. I am not longer trying to “belong” in my own life. I’ll never apologize for why I exist. Ever again. Looking forward to this new journey.

  • This has been big for most of my life because I’m a sensitive person: “– Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional.”

    I spent too many years trying to hide or shove away that part of myself. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned ways to embrace and cherish my sensitivity, and I’ve also learned ways to ground myself so I’m not as easily thrown off balance.

    I appreciate your commitment to authenticity.

  • It’s taken me nearly 60 years to stop trying to justify myself to everyone. I wasted many years of my life in tragic situations simply because I wanted to win the approval of of the wrong people.

    Honestly, my most important life lesson I’ve learned is to not care what people think of me, and that I cannot please everyone no matter how hard I try. Now I have this mantra: “I am who I am, and if people can’t accept me for who I am, they can keep walking.”

    BTW, I bought two copies of your book yesterday and I can’t wait for them to arrive. I’m giving the second copy to my daughter as a gift.

  • I feel number 15 touched my heart. We all need someone to love, and I feel we would wither away without it. Something to do keeps us alive and happy while something to hope for gives us the will to keep moving forward every day.

    Number 6 about forgiveness is very good, as well. Unforgiving people are oftentimes very unhappy in their lives living in the past.

  • Amazing list!
    The urge to justify ourselves stem from the need to win approval from other people.

    It is much better to look at deeper issues to why you feel the need to justify yourself.

  • Just thank you. This arrives in perfect timing.

  • Thanks for your wonderful and inspiring posts. I am one who has always advocated that we should sincerely be who we are, making no excuses and living our truths. You are giving us all that encouragement. I am struggling with a forgiveness issue precipitated by an act of deceit but I know the importance of forgiveness so I am working on it. There is clarity from reading your postings. On behalf of your followers, I say a gracious “thank you”.

  • I have been stripped of my true identity and I have not known it for the longest time… this unique article brings great perspective. Marc and Angel… thank you.

  • This is yet another great post! As I was reading it, I found myself saying “Yes..I’ve done that!” to nearly every number on the list. Its time to live life and to be happy doing it.

    So many of us fall into the hustle and bustle of life which is working, taking care of family and nothing else. There is a whole world out there to see and to immersed yourself in. And that will be my goal: to live and breathe, to appreciate what God has given me and what God has in store for me, to be naturally happy and to exist more, do more and to be more.

    Thanks Marc and Angel for yet another great post!

    Mara

  • I really struggle with #9. I wonder if “…Fail often, fail fast, clean it up, learn from it, move on, and then repeat…” is context-specific?

    I can see how it would be great if you’re a musician, software designer, game developer etc, but what about if you’re an engineer, doctor or assessing product safety? If I fail, people besides me get can get seriously hurt. If your failures cost someone else their life, livelyhood or six months in hospital, it’s pretty hard hard for you or anyone else to view it as a no-harm event. How do you move forward and take a risk again knowing the end result probably won’t be different?

  • Oh my gosh! This is one of the best posts I have read. Yes, I say that for almost every one. I have spent my whole life just being me, but so afraid of that. Never thinking “just being me” was good enough.

    Lived in fear and had much abuse as a kid, had no self esteem or confidence. Then became a loving wife to my soulmate and mother and raised 2 wonderful successful daughters. My daughters never lived in fear or had abuse. The circle was broken by myself and loving husband.

    I am so worth much much more than “just being me.” But again I struggle with this on a daily basis. Your recommendation for baby steps is spot on. For now, I am taking one day at a time. Some days are so much better than others. On the bad days, I talk myself out of the negative thoughts about me. Yes, I am worth this.

    Thank you again Marc. It is so fullfilling to be able to say that “just being me” is a wonderful thing.

    @Heather, thank you so much. I am trying to stand taller as well.

  • I’ve been working through #10 and #12 for a while now. It’s taken a while to realize that I need to live how I want to, not how others want me to based on their own lifestyle choices.
    At the end of the day each of us has to live with our choices and having a happy, fulfilling life will only happen when we can accept how we want to live and then do it.

    This is a great post that I’ll be referencing again!

  • What a powerful post. I spent most of my life trying to please people until one day, life handed me a tragedy that forced me to focus on my own happiness. When my son died at 16, I had nothing left to try to please others. It was like running out of gas. I awakened to the realization that healing myself had to be top priority in order for me to continue on and also be a mother to my other 3 children. I found the strength to learn to say no to things I didn’t want to do, the ability to priortize what’s important, and most of all I learned how self love is the key to happiness.

  • @Mitch K: Doctors do not run a perfect, they run a practice. There is a reason. The stakes may be higher in some professions, but you are looking at failure=calamity. You are not God, or the Angel of Death. If every emergency room doctor who failed to save a life quit, there would be no emergency rooms. SO let me ask your last question a shade differently: what if you didn’t take the risk and something worse happened?

    I spent a lot of time pleasing others, and I still do today to a lesser extent. But I learned from a friend a long time ago the fastest way to silence a critic. Let them ramble on, then look them right in the eye and ask them “Are you living your dreams?” 90% of the people I have done this to have absolutely no answer. If they cannot answer this for themselves, how could they possible answer it for you?

  • Oh, I am the biggest justifier there is!! The need has crippled me, because after I justify myself, I’m wanting to justify why I justified. It’s true, I’m so concerned about what others think that I lose myself. My biggest question each day is “Lord who am I? Who do you want me to be?” It’s hard to get this question answered when I constantly look towards others to answer it for me. Each and every one of the items listed is so good! However, I feel that if I do these things I will become a brat who doesn’t care about others. Truthfully, it all culminates to FEAR. Ultimately, if I just do me I fear disappointing people on either end of the spectrum. Yet, my life is not over, I plan to live in freedom of not having to justify myself, and each day is a new opportunity to walk it out. :)

  • @David Rapp thanks for your words and advice!!! :) And yes, I am also coming to conclusion that we shouldn’t give a damn about what others think of us, as long as we’re not hurting anyone and we are being busy creating our life and discovering who we really are. And yes, comparison is a big thief of joy…

  • This list is so awesome! Needed this today badly. #4 I believe was inspired by Brene’ Brown’s book Daring Greatly…the part about perfectionism and shame.

  • Have I told you yet how much I appreciate all your advice and thoughts? I really should thank you more often… Thanks, you lovely couple! :)

  • @David, sometimes failure IS a calamity. The other person really is killed or badly injured because I fail. And if I *don’t* act and someone is killed or injured, then I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. No right answers. I think that feels worse. I find myself in these positions too often, and I hate it.

    @Maia, I hate the idea that because I AM hurting people whether I do or don’t do, I’m stuck with peoples’ judgements of my failures.

  • Kelly Wulfhorst
    June 30th, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Perfect! Thank you for your words of wisdom! I read this today, by no accident and was so perfect in every way. Thank you so much!

  • Wow I read all your blog posts, Marc and Angel, and they inspire me. Thank you so much.

    Also, just wanted to say after reading all the comments here, honestly 90% could have been written by me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I thank you & wish you all a happy ever after

    Keep up the good work, everyone ,and know that you all have helped me today. xxxx

  • @ Mitch K … no failure is a calamity, life is all about learning along the way, discovering who you are… you obviously are in a high-stress job or assignment at the moment … if you are in such turmoil with it then you need to ask yourself a few simple questions (ones that no one else can answer for you) … is this where I want to be/to be doing right now??; does this really make me happy (fulfill my inner passion– listen strongly to that one as it will take you to where you really want and should be — trust yourself first, then others)!! That’s pretty much the core of living a life that’s fulfilling in your own eyes :) Never live YOUR life according to what others think or say …. best of luck!!

  • @Karen, If by my failure, someone dies, how is this not a calamity? And if I turn round to that person’s friends and family and say, “Oh well, your wife/husband/father/mother/child died, but I learned a bit about how things work” do you really think this is a consolation for them or for me? No, it doesn’t make me happy, it makes me a nervous wreck, but turning around to my family and saying “sorry everyone, you’ve got to give up everything you like and enjoy and move into a shitty little house because daddy can’t do his job any more” isn’t an option either. I don’t exist in isolation and I can’t just ignore the impact of what I do on everyone else in the world. I don’t know how people manage to live with the idea that no matter what impact you have on other people, it’s totally irrelevant provided you’re OK.

  • Loved the article, and I appreciate the hard work you put in writing this. However, when you are given summer homework stating to summarise an 800 word article from your website in less than 200 words, it’s really hard to deal with. ;-)

  • I visit your site often and it’s feels like a therapy when I read your wonderful articles. Thank you guys. You remind me that I have a good life and I need maintain a productive life.

  • This is a fabulous list. Definitely one I will keep close at hand for those times when I lose touch with myself and allow others to influence my path…

  • As an older person I have come to realize that most people are so busy thinking about themselves, how they look, what to say, what impression they are making that they don’t really see you. They could care less what you are wearing, saying, or implying. There is a real freedom in learning this. I wish people could learn to just be themselves earlier in life. It is very freeing and comforting to realize that you only have to please yourself. You only have to meet your own standards and live your own life.

    We should be teaching these things in school to teenagers, the world would be a better place if we could learn these lessons early in life.

  • @ Mitch K, I agree with you. I like the list above as a general guide (especially in those moments where you’re dealing with someone who is overly difficult, judgmental, and negative). But, it seems that those who subscribe 100% to #9 tend to leave others in their wake. I work with a few of these. While, I’m not saving lives, and these “failures” don’t kill anyone, they often leave others cleaning up the mess at the office late at night. I stay late because I love my job and care about the company I work for. Of course, in a scenario where someone else has “embraced #9″, it means my own personal #1, 6, 7, and 13 come into conflict with each other. I realize cleaning up is part of #9, but not everything can be “cleaned up” by the one who messed it up. And, in your case, cleaning up someone’s dead family member certainly doesn’t provide them with much comfort. And, frankly, if you are worried about #9, it means you do care what other people think about you. I for one, want those who are helping me (in a hospital, at a restaurant, at the auto shop, etc) to care what I think…at least a little. So, thanks for caring.

  • I absolutely love not justifying your weirdness!!! We all have quirks and we spend entirely too much time apologising for them instead of celebrating them :)

    Thank you so much for this post!

  • This post could not come at a better time. Whilst I was on a date, I explained to a friend that I chose women I dated based on my preferences and not based on society’s perception of beauty (and perfection). I told him that I didn’t HAVE to care about what others thought of my doings. So many people were commenting on my taking the road less traveled, quitting my job, writing a self-help blog, starting a digital marketing business, etc. I ended this conversation by saying that I didn’t have to justify myself to anyone.

    The following day, I read this post. I love it and it’s definitely going to become a reference to come back to. I relate strongly to points on weirdness, failure, hope, and dreaming.
    I would add a point on choices. Choices are the most difficult things we do because it requires courage. When you make a choice, you move away from the crowd and take a step forward in being you. People will comment on your choices. Again, you shouldn’t need to justify your choices. They are you.

    Marc and Angel, thanks a million for this one!
    Dewi

  • @Mitch K - can I suggest that you be a bit kinder to yourself and all those who are in the same position? If one’s heart is in the right place, and you are doing all that you can, under circumstances and/or options presented to you at the time, then the unknown is something over which we have no control. Often we may not have access to every perceivable factor and therefore can’t dictate the outcome…. we can however, learn from the experience, out of which another will benefit.

    The message I get from the post is about loving ourselves as individuals, and having the courage to do so… being kind to ourselves also allows for our own human failings. - ‘To thine own self be true’ (Shakespeare ~ Hamlet) - is actually incredibly difficult to do, but in so doing, I believe one will be in the best position to also take care of others… Granted that is a bit simplistic a statement, however you get the gist!

    Your children and family will love you and be just as proud of you if or when ‘… daddy can’t do his job any more’. It’s you they love, not the ‘job’….. besides - at least you are trying to make a difference! :-)

  • @Mitch K., I understand what you are saying, but turn it around for a minute. How many people are you in the position of saving. I am guessing you are a doctor, and with that being my assumption, I bet there are many more people that you do help on a daily basis.

    By the way, you are not God, or any other higher power, so when it is time for anyone of us go and meet our maker, it is time. You are doing your best humanly possible to help people. That is a wonderful thing, to be able to help.

    Just think about it please. You do sound troubled, but you do also sound proud of what you do. Take care.

  • I love absolutely all of these. I realized recently that I’d let my life goals revolve around what other people would think of me. It made me very sad that I’d gotten caught up in impressing others over living my life.

    Thanks for the encouragement to be unapologetically me! I’m going to bookmark this post and read it often.

  • Chishimba Davies
    July 2nd, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Love every one of these points. They have really inspired me.

  • In college, I dreamed of becoming a Naval Aviator, and did so. Upon retiring I dreamed of becoming a math teacher, and did so. I then dreamed of becoming a law enforcement officer, and did so. However, I had a major flaw in my character, and still do, that limited my success. That was, and is, “Not expressing my emotions.” As a result, my superiors and colleagues never knew who I was, or what I thought. I never really connected with them. Ah well, I did OK for a Missouri hillbilly.

  • Enjoyed the article and insight. But I have a tough time endorsing point #2. Everyone expresses their emotion automatically, only those with some form of mental illness may have trouble expressing themselves. I just recently had a friend who expressed herself by cursing out another friend. She subsequently lost two friends from that bit of expressing her emotions. Seems like the height of arrogance to me if anyone just expresses themselves with only themselves in mind. There is a need for appropriate behavior in society, and therefore maturity and SELF CONTROL. Imagine if I were flying on an airplane full of passengers and FELT a need to scream? What do you think would have been the consequences of my need to express my emotions?

  • Wow! What a great post. It was just what I needed. I’ve always felt the need to explain myself and actions to everyone. I’m realizing that I don’t have to and that’s ok. This is so freeing! Numbers 5 - not taking things personally, 6 - decididing to forgive, and 14 - choosing to smile through my struggles really hit home for me. Especially number 14 which is exactly what James 1:2-4 talks about “Count it joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Actually, I can relate a lot of the blog posts to things from the Bible which is great for me. Thanks for doing such an awesome job on this blog by giving me some additional tools I can use to become better person.

  • Brilliant website….has helped me get through tough times. Marc and Angel, you truly talk my language…

  • Rebecca Antholz
    July 2nd, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I really appreciated your comments on Michelle Obama saying “she was her first priority.” As a mother, sister, friend, aunt, and much more, I found myself this past year, completely used up. I had given 25 years of my life to a niece who had a terrible childhood that led into a destructive adulthood. I tried to do all I could to help her through depression, failed relationships, three children born out of wedlock, homelessness, and on and on. I bought her clothes, make-up, jewelry and even gave her a pair of beautiful diamond earrings for finishing high school with two babies. I believed that by doing all of these things, and even having to put her needs ahead of my own and MY successful children, she would succeed in spite of her circumstances. I sacrificed myself, my things, my time, my money and even my own self-esteem to help her. However, it came a great cost. I did not notice or realize, even though my three sons did, that she didn’t appreciate what I did or how much I gave. The more I gave, the more she took.

    However, the most important thing she took was my heart, my concern and genuine love and just turned on me. I found out she did not love me. She did not nor was capable of appreciating all I had done for her. I found myself literally “used up” and empty. I realized this year how toxic our relationship had been to me. It literally broke my heart. I realized though and learned by it; you cannot place another human being above yourself, to the exclusion of all else. For if you, you will become empty and harmed by it. I had to completely remove her from my life and it hurt. I loved her as one of my own. However, she did not benefit from my love and help and it left me shattered to learn she actually hated me. My friends and family say it is jealousy or envy. Others say she is too disturbed, beyond reach.

    Whatever the reason , I learned an invaluable lesson. One must ALWAYS listen to their heart and needs so that they can never be “used up” taken for granted and harmed by giving more than you’ve got to another person. You must first take care of yourself and then and only then, can you help others. For when you find yourself in my situation, it is a long road back to finding and loving yourself.

  • I’m not sure where I got this from (probably one of your priceless blog posts) but I have it on my bulletin board and read it often: “Don’t worry about what others expect of you. Set your own expectations and goals. Self satisfaction is a battle between You and Yourself only.”

    Another one is Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.

    I try to remind myself that they persecuted Jesus because He couldn’t please everyone, why should I think I would be free of this type of judgment. And to help me deal with all of this I try to always remember. He didn’t promise us this is heaven, but He did promise there is a heaven. Marc and Angel’s positive messages truly makes it so we can keep seeing the good in the now. Thank you.

  • @Braja: In my mind, that quote accurately describes fake people vs. real people. If the face we always show the world is a mask, we’ll constantly have to maintain it. And this is a painful process in the long run. Thanks for sharing.

    @Diana: We couldn’t be happier for you and your decision. Rock on!

    @Dee: Great mantra to live by. It’s never too late to put yourself first. Thank you for supporting our work and sharing the good vibes. :)

    @Mitch K: I would assume most engineers and doctors are using the motto “Fail often, fail fast…” in school or research facilities, not on the operating room table. They are doing the best they can do with the tools and information available. As for your question: “How do you move forward and take a risk again knowing the end result probably won’t be different?” I think you answered the question yourself - you’re not moving forward if you’re assuming and expecting the same results. Failure is the opportunity to begin again, SMARTER than before. It’s rarely ideal, but it always forces some kind of growth. You now know what works and what doesn’t and you adjust your sails from there. (PS: Thanks for the insightful feedback and for keeping the conversation alive.)

    @Anna: “Selfish” is acting in your own self-interest without regard for others. “Self-Care” is acting in your own self-interest, so that you can be your best for yourself and for others. Don’t feel guilty putting yourself first.

    @Jan Conwell: I 100% agree!

    @Russ: It’s not too late. Own your vulnerability and put your true self out there.

    @Mike: People can and should express their emotions in a mature way. Your friend choosing curse words as her outlet says more about her than her emotions. I think a clear line can be drawn between expressing one’s emotions, levelheadedly, and totally losing one’s temper. Obviously, with any advice, we must find balance in how it is applied.

    @Rebecca Antholz: Though it may have taken you awhile to learn this lesson, you are now better prepared for the future and it sounds like you have so much love to give yourself. By sharing your story here you have helped others shine some light on their situation too. Thank you!

    @All: Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.” It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself. When you act as your own best friend, you allow yourself to be happy. When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and you inspire others to be happier too. Thank you for being your amazingly, awesome, self! :)

  • This world puts such an emphasis on being ‘perfect’, and my heart goes out to kids growing up in this unrealistic society. I wish more campaigns for ‘being yourself’ were in place for kids nowadays. Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. There’s no reason to be ashamed for feeling something or acting out on it if it’s real to you. It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others know it. Showing your emotions is a sign of human strength. The people who judge you for being human, and not being modest, emotionless, and “in line,” are the ones who need to apologize. This is a great topic to be discussed. ;-)

  • Beautifully written! I have discovered this is a big key to happiness (not explaining myself) I think it stems from children being taught to worry so much about others (adults use the word share, so it sounds better).

    It’s difficult to remove justification when I am uncomfortable with others being upset. I feel tremendous guilt when I don’t people please and I worry that they will be let down. This is the part I am stuck on… how to lose the guilt.

  • Number one is vital for mothers of children, even older kids. I have low blood sugar and found that if I didn’t take care of myself my little children just might have had to pick me up off the floor, drive us all to the hospital, tell the nurses what’s wrong with Mum, talk over health insurance coverage with the office, pay the co-pay, and call their dad on the cell. My children never had to do that because I thought ahead and took care of my needs first.

  • These are great! I have finally accepted that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself. I have a hard time doing this at work. I am a teacher and love my job but really put a lot of effort and focus into it and being perfect. I worry about what others think and finally am letting go of this. Slowly I gain happiness and peace!!!

  • What I was always worried about was presenting a clean house to others if they happened to drop by. Finally one day I realized I didn’t want my tombstone to read “she kept a clean house” and I stopped worrying about it. Right now there are dishes in the sink. I choose to smile and say, “what a great meal!”

  • Mitch K.,
    I’m so sorry that you sound so angry at me. We did lose our only child, Sean. We so appreciated the doctors, residents (the best!!) and interns who were real, shed tears and felt so sorry that they couldn’t do more for our son. It was the doctors who wouldn’t answer our questions (the head of oncology) who made us sad and mad….had to go through the social workers (really incompetent) to communicate with Sean’s doctor. What a sad state of affairs…….the doctor had such a big ego that he thought that was the most important thing…believe me it wasn’t!!

  • “I respectfully don’t care.” - love it! I follow few of the points you have mentioned. Recently I discovered that by not taking things personally we do lot of good to us and others around. In work place the environment stays healthy, if you hold your immediate reactions and wait for the right time to talk in more mature manner if issue persists.

    A good read indeed.

  • Two 1/2 years ago, I made the toughest decision of my life - to move away from my kids, and leave them with their dad. Moms just don’t DO that, especially stay at home moms, like I was for 15 years. But after a painfully bitter divorce, I decided to put aside what I wanted, and decided to do what my KIDS wanted. After all, they didn’t ask for their parents to divorce. They were 11 and 15 at the time, and wanted to remain in their house, surrounded by the things they are familiar with: their dog, their friends, the house they grew up in.

    It’s a small town, and many voiced their opinions: “What kind of mother DOES that?” “Was she doing drugs?” “Did she lose custody?” None of these were true. I left my kids behind because they needed stability, and desperately wanted it after their parents, high school sweethearts, decided to end their 17 year marriage. And who was I to say no.

    A few months after I moved out, I was driving with my daughter in the front seat next to me. The sun was shining, I was in a good mood. Then, she asked me the question. THE question. The one that plays over and over in my head.

    N: “Mom, do you like lemons?”
    ME: “What? Um….yeah…love ‘em. Why?”
    N: “Because I’m starting to forget.”
    I’m starting to forget…..I’M STARTING TO FORGET…

    I finally stopped justifying my decision to people. Unless you’re in a situation, I finally realize, you’re just not going to get it. Many have left my side and no longer support my decision, including my own mother and sister. Did that hurt? Incredibly so. Did it change my decision? Absolutely not. For the most part, I really don’t talk much to the people I knew and conversed with when I lived in my farmhouse bungalow, with my kids, my dog, and the man I once loved so very much since I was 16. It’s too painful, and a sad reminder of a bittersweet past.

    Am I coping? Depends on the day. And how many times the lemon conversation plays in my head. But I truly believe that time heals. Hopefully, my kids will be healthy, happy, well-adjusted adults one day, and all of my dark days will be worth the sacrifice.

  • I just found my voice 5 minutes ago talking to my brother and mom about where I want my life to go. I just graduated college and it is scary trying to find my path but today I took one step closer to it. Another person was involved in the conversation and I tell you…whew…made me feel all sorts of bad for wanting to choose the path I chose. That person basically said to me: You won`t be able to find a job without me.

    I thought: WHAAAAAT?

    That was so in my face. The person basically said: You are not good enough.

    Well today is the beginning of a new day of blocking out that negativity. I am not saying I am not open to advice but certain things you can spot as poison to your mind and soul. And I want to encourage other people to do the same, block out the negativity. It is going to be hard, especially when we want the approval of our family, friends etc. SOOOO much but take heart. Be encouraged.

    Thank you guys for this post. Gave me more fuel for the new fire burning inside of me.

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