Do I owe them an explanation?

The same topic has come up on three of my coaching calls recently. It’s something I know I have personally struggled with so much in my life as well. 

My clients have shared with me the fallout they fear will follow them making a change. They know what change they want to make. They know the right next step. And yet, they freeze. Why?

Because they know that once they take the next step, it will create some situation where they will end up in conversations explaining to others why they did what they did. 

Here is my response each time:

Why do you owe them an explanation?

What if you just make the change you know you want to make, and you don’t need to justify or explain it to anyone? 

Each time I asked this question, there was silence and a pause on the other side. 

I know the feeling. I’ve done it. Sooooooo many times. I feel this need to justify myself, explain my decisions, tell them all the thoughts that I am thinking. Give all the details as to why I did what I did. 

Sometimes, with the right people, it makes for beautiful conversation. 

Most of the time, it’s utterly exhausting. I quickly find myself in a defensive posture. By over explaining, I just create more confusion and uncertainty. 

The conversations I’m referring to have involved the decision to end a relationship, the decision to make a business change, the decision to leave work on time, and the decision to stay home instead of going where others are going. 

Each time, in the conversations, the fear all centered around “but what will I say? How will I explain it? I don’t think it will make sense to them.” 

What if the answer is that you don’t. 

Regarding the relationship ending, she was able to discover that the only person she owed an explanation to was the other person in the relationship. When everyone else wanted to know the details, and why, and felt entitled to more information, she chose to not answer. We came up with a simple, one-liner response that painted them both in a good light, and she decided to set her boundary there. That was her line in the sand. After her simple line, there was nothing else to say.

The dialogue was very similar in all the other conversations. We clarified who actually deserved to know more details because it was the appropriate thing to do, and who was just being nosey or would create a stressful situation if the can was opened. 

As I write this post today, I cannot help but laugh. I have been the QUEEN of TMI. I have spent a lifetime over-explaining myself. It’s probably the people pleaser in many of us that wants to explain all the details and thoughts so they understand why we did what we did and are less likely to judge us, right? Because at the end of the day, the fear of rejection or not being liked motivates many of us. 

We don’t need to live this way.

We have the option to live with bold confidence. We can own our decisions because we know precisely why we made them and completely release how others respond. 

I would be lying if I said I have this figured out or have mastered it, but personally, I’m working on becoming hyper aware when I feel tempted to explain when unnecessary. When I find myself wanting to elaborate, I am trying to pause and ask “do I owe them an explanation?” 

Most often, the answer is no. 


Sophia Hyde is a certified life coach.

If there is something about your life that you know needs to change, working with a coach may be a great next step for you.

The first step is a one hour Zoom call where she will listen to your situation, go through an assessment with you, and share those results. Then, together you will determine if coaching can benefit you.

To explore if Sophia is the right coach for you, just set up a time to chat.

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