You don’t need to justify anything. You don’t need to change just so someone will like you. Be your best self and the right ones will love the real you.
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.
Will the people in your life always support your decisions? No they likely won’t. But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself — it’s about creating yourself.
So make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.” Say it to anyone who passes unfair 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 quick reference list of life choices you shouldn’t have to justify to anyone else:
1. Choosing to put yourself first.
During a television interview back when she was the First Lady, Michelle Obama was asked if she thought it was at all selfish that she openly admits to making herself her first priority. The First Lady smiled and 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.” Like her or not, that’s 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. Choosing to embrace your emotions.
Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. There’s no reason to be ashamed of feeling something or expressing it if it’s real to you. Showing your emotions is characteristic of a truly alive and compassionate human being, and yet it’s too often perceived as a sign of being weak or broken. Truly, it’s not the emotionally sensitive person who is broken, it’s society’s understanding that is oftentimes dysfunctional and emotionally incapacitated.
Truly, there is zero shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being “too emotional” or “complicated” are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more thoughtful, caring, humane world. Let your feelings, smiles, and tears shine a light in this world!
3. Choosing to own your weirdness.
We are all weird in some way. What sets you apart may seem like a burden, but it’s not. Most of the time it’s what makes you so incredible. So where’s your will to be weird? Where’s your resolution to be real? Celebrate your individuality and do 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. Own it! (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
4. Choosing to be 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 imperfectly yourself. 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 that subconscious pull to be “perfect” in the eyes of others, and just be exactly who you are today. No apologies required.
5. Choosing to let go and not take things personally.
You may not be able control all the rude things people say and do, but you can decide not to be controlled by them. Make that decision for yourself. There is great freedom in leaving others to their opinions. And there is a huge weight lifted when you take things less personally.
Of course, some people may tell you it’s best to stand up tall for yourself and fight back hard, but the best offense is usually a good defense. Defend yourself from others by not putting yourself at the center of their inner conflicts. Truth be told, if you take everything personally, you will remain offended for the rest of your life. What other people do is mostly because of them, not you.
6. Choosing to forgive others.
Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. Free yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim. For the most part, grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something. Forgiveness on the other hand is for those who are wise enough to focus on what they can control in the present. 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, setting healthy boundaries, and lifting your spirit with positive steps forward.
7. Choosing to spend more time with the 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 and to-dos will be your biggest concerns. 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 or brother, and one last laugh with your best friend. The bottom line is that life is too short to be too busy for the people you love.
8. Choosing to go at your own pace.
You are not behind. You are exactly where you need to be. Every step is necessary. Don’t judge or berate yourself for how long your journey is taking. 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 the time and conditions are right. So remember, you don’t have to make excuses about why you aren’t married right now, 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. Choosing to fail forward.
In those moments when you find yourself standing face to face with an issue you battled before — one bearing a lesson you were sure you’d already learned — remember, repetition is not failure. Ask the waves, ask the leaves, ask the wind. Repetition is required to evolve and grow. And repetition allows you to fail forward. We learn the right way on the way.
Truly, failures are opportunities to begin again smarter than before. If you’ve heard differently, 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 your next step to the naysayers.
10. Choosing to forgive yourself for past errors in judgment or immaturity.
I don’t entirely approve of some of the things I’ve done in my life. But I am who I am. And I would not be me if I hadn’t learned along the way. The same is true for you. Don’t be ashamed of who you had to be to get to where you are today. Forgive yourself for those times when you lacked clarity, for those foolish decisions you made that caused needless stress. Forgive yourself for being human, young, and reckless. Your journey has many vital lessons. And what matters most now is your willingness to grow from them.
11. Choosing to dress comfortably, and owning it.
Angel and I have helped hundreds 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 everyone for not looking a certain way. You could apologize to yourself though, for feeling like you had to in the first place.
12. Choosing 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 some 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. Choosing to work extra hard on your goals and dreams.
When people try to inspire you, they’ll often tell you all kinds of well-meaning and heartfelt things like: “Follow your dreams. Listen to your heart. Find your inner voice and let it sing. In fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.” And while all of this is fine and dandy, the big problem is a lot of people dream and dream… and that’s all they do. Don’t be one of them!
It’s always easier said than done, yet you need to do some hard things to be happy in life. Because the hard things ultimately build you up and move you forward. They make the difference between existing and living, between knowing the path and walking it, between a lifetime of empty dreams and a life filled with gratitude for how far you’ve come.
14. Choosing to be positive through your challenges.
Positivity does not mean ignoring the negativity around you, it means overcoming the negativity within you. There is a big difference between the two. The peace, happiness, and effectiveness of your life greatly depends on the quality of your thoughts.
Of course, not every day will be good, but there will be something good about every day. Do your best to notice it. None of us know the exact paths we will travel or the trials that will come our way. The secret is to find some goodness on the daily journey. Making the best of each step you take is the smartest choice. Your positivity will gradually help you realize that many of the inconvenient things that happen in your life are on the same path to the best possible things that could ever happen to you. (Note: Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
15. Choosing to give yourself hope.
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 for you.
16. Choosing to feel completely justified already, without anyone else’s approval.
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 fewer 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.
Do more than exist!
We all exist.
The question is: How do you want to live today? (Note: This is a question Angel and I ask ourselves every morning, and it’s one of 365 thought-provoking prompts included in our newest publication via Penguin Random House, “The Good Morning Journal: Powerful Prompts & Reflections to Start Every Day”.)
Now, it’s your turn…
Yes, it’s your turn to get out there and live today! (No justifications needed.)
But before you go we would love to hear from YOU.
Which point mentioned above resonates with you the most right now?
Please leave Angel and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this essay. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive two new articles like this in your inbox each week.
Photo by: Brandon Warren
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, Marc and Angel. Your blog and books are wonderful. And I just got your new journal! Excited to begin.
I thank you Angel and Marc, you guys are really making my life better and shaping us.
For the time I am alive I won’t stop reading you guys.
Thank you both so much. Every time I read these emails I just want you to know, that I’m so happy you are doing this for us. I hope you feel better nowing that your word’s are so helpful. And make me feel like I still have hope and fight inside my heart. To be treated people wrongful and feel alone. And ALLOWING THEM TO HURT YOU PUTS FIGHT IN YOUR HEART EVERDAY.. With YOUR Incouragment
I’M NEVER GIVING UP ON ME !!!! OR MYSELF, and My d Dreams.. Thank You!!!
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 myself and your other readers, I say a gracious “thank you”.
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. 😉
This post is one of the most amazing and exhilarating messages I have received recently. I have existed most of my life with only one goal to achieve…approval. By the age of 16 I began taking matters into my own hands to make sure I achieved this goal, no matter the cost. Thus began a life of choices, emotions and behavior that would control and determine my decisions and outcomes still to this day, nearly 30 yrs later. I am 45 yrs old and for the past 3 yrs I have been begging myself and others for permission to live by the 16 points you shared. I wanted desperately for my husband’s approval even more so. I wanted to be free from the limitations and expectations of others bc it no longer mattered, but deep inside I still needed their approval for my decision to live the way u described in this message! The gift and hope I just received was approval-that it is not just OK, but vital and healthy and I do not need anyone’s approval but my own to let go of the past, forgive myself and escape my personal prison. I’m a work in progress!
Amy, thank you. I’m like you & need to put myself no “1” & not worry about what others think. I’m sensitive & a people pleaser. It’s taken too many yrs to find a voice but it’s surfaced & I’m on the mission of ” It’s all about ME” who I am MATTERS & makes a difference. These 12 points I will keep reading. Takes care.
“I respectfully don’t care.” – love it! I follow few of the points you have mentioned. Recently I discovered – in my 50’s – 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.
Rebecca A. says
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.
Judith Bartlett says
Dear Rebecca, thank you for sharing your painful experience ~ I’ve done similar, trying to support a dear friend, over & over, to no benefit really, and gradually like the proverbial frog in the slowly heating pot, realising the great cost to myself ~ it’s a long road to recover health & vitalty, creativity, joy in life. Wishing balm & healing to your beautiful loving heart, with love, Judith
Kelly Wulfhorst says
Perfect! Thank you for your words of wisdom! I read this today, by no accident and was so perfect in every way. Good reminders I needed. Thank you so much!
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. 🙂
Choosing to spend my time any way I desire. I’m finally retired and love having more time to create ((I’m an artist and musician). Well-meaning friends are always suggesting to me that my passions for art and music are obsessive time fillers because I’m “bored”. How wrong they are!!
Mike Tinnon says
I love this blog. Is there a way to easily print it?
Beverly Ball says
Marc, I especially loved your phrase about “the difference between knowing the path and walking it”. These two juxtaposed metaphors help to give me a personal experience that inspires me to “start walking”, to trust all the searching and thinking and visualizing I’ve done. I know that I can always pause along the path, to reevaluate whether I’m on the path that’s right for me. Thank you!!
I wish this article was written years ago.
Thanks for all of your posts and your new journal. I find them very helpful.
I wish you continued success and joy in your life, Marc and Angel.
Janice M Johnson says
Every last one of them inspired me. I just wish I had the strength to follow through.
Reading the comments and loving all the honesty and thoughtfulness of you all!!
But honestly, Marc + Angel, you guys are the best! I loved all the points, but found myself nearly reaching tears on #8… don’t want to put all my business on the streets, but it gave me hope to just allow my life to unfold the way it is and stop beating myself up for unmet expectations… from myself, from my family, and by society…
God bless you and whatever inspired you two to create this blog and share these insights!
You’re helping a lot of people 🙂
Thanks for the message. I could find solace after reading your post each day. As we are all humans, making mistakes and punishing ourselves by feeling low of ourselves. Wasting our time brooding over our mistakes. Thanks for lifting the soul like me. You are a guiding light for me.
God bless you
Thankyou, I needed this article at this time, at a turning point in my life path 🙂
Noah William Smith says
🙂 Hi Marc and Angel,
Hope you are well today.
Felt like you saved the best for last in this article. Especially #13, 14 and 15 resonate so deeply with me right now.
Fortunately I realized if one takes care of yourself, you have MORE to GIVE to others. When we feel good inside, we spread love wherever we go and everyone wins.
It is not selfish to look after one’s own needs and wants. The best thing you can do for your loved ones is to prioritize yourself.