Well, In my defense…
How often do you find find yourself justifying your actions (or inactions) to your significant other, work colleagues, or maybe even YOURSELF?
A Justification proposes an acceptable reason or explanation as to why we did or did not do something.
But why do we use justification?
When we justify, we avoid undesirable negative feelings that stem from a sense of insufficiency – and create alternative - but believable - thoughts that will espouse more palatable emotions.
Simply put, we justify in order protect our ego.
To Justify is to be Human. By Kindergarten, we had already started mastering the “skill” of justifying. The five year old version of you learned how to rationalize your imperfections rather than chose to feel shame and a sense of inferiority.
Is there any harm in choosing to just feel good?
In short – YES– because when we opt to only “feel good,” we set a ceiling to our happiness. In avoiding the risks that come with embracing our vulnerability in favor of justification, we also avoid the potential benefits of pushing ourselves beyond our imperfections. That is to say that sometimes on the journey to achieving our goals, we NEED to acknowledge the negative emotions that come from insufficiency to push our feelings from Good… to Better.
Let’s say you have the goal to write your first novel (Not into writing, how about Start your side business? Change jobs? Ask for the holidays off?). When you initially started brainstorming the idea, you were excited. Then you started the process, and it became more time consuming, difficult, or “risky” than you imagined. You might say to yourself, “Well no one is going to read my book anyway.” This thought prompts you to stop writing.
In the moment, you may feel relief because you made a great justification for why you don’t have to continue writing. But if your goal is to write a book, you will not reach your end result by making excuses.
How do we get past this?
Once again, if your reason for achieving a goal is compelling, then the motivation to pursue this dream is available. We need to plan ahead and be prepared for the excuses we will be likely to make.
When I start working with clients, after we define our goal and our commitment to goal, we then address the justifications that we are likely to make. We construct a list so that we are prepared for these thoughts. Then, when these justifications arise, we are ready to counteract them.
When it comes to battling Justification,
Preparation is EVERYTHING.
There is one very important point that I want to make. It has to do with reason for change. If you do not have a good reason to reach a goal or make a change, then it is crucial that we reevaluate. Why? If we set goals that we are not 100% invested in, then we are wasting our time and setting ourselves us for a diminished relationship with ourselves.
Can I really destroy my relationship with myself by setting lofty goals?
The answer is, possibly. If we constantly set unattainable goals and never achieve them, we may start to think thoughts of, “I don’t have what it takes. I don’t follow through. I’m just not good enough… I NEVER achieve the goals I make, so why even try?” Overtime, if we think these enough, we may start to believe them.
Are you an overachiever?
If, so then you are are like many of my clients, and this may a very difficulty concept to embrace. But let me help you out with a little secret:
You need to make sure your reason for change/goal is something you are 100% committed to achieving - the more specific and concrete you can make the goal, the better.
Next, set a small, obtainable goal that would be almost impossible not to achieve. Then, you keep repeating tiny goal after tiny goal until you reach your destination.
Do you see what you will achieve? Every time you succeed at your tiny goal, you are a success story. By default you will begin generating thoughts of positivity. Maybe you will think, “wow- that was super easy and I can’t wait to do more and more.”
Justifications are just a reminder that we may have set our goal too high. That’s how we can start to think of them. We can set small, achievable goals that will lead us to more success than we can imagine. More importantly, we will build amazing self worth and confidence like never before.