Rachel Hollis is making a bazillion dollars by encouraging all of us (though clearly, she’s addressing women, and ones who don’t mind being called Girl) to stop apologizing. I’m a woman comfortable being called Girl, so she’s talking to me, but I was working on unapologetic/unashamed before her latest blockbuster book. This development ties directly to my fasting practice, to the simple-yet-radical act of not eating for most of the day, which trained me to do what is best for myself in the face of skepticism or criticism. Yet I’ve been realizing that even though I feel ZERO need to apologize for my eating choices, I still have progress to make in other areas.
I’m a person who has a deep need to understand others – their emotions, their stories, what drives them. And just like you tend to give the love language you want to receive, as I strive diligently to understand others, I also feel a deep desire to be understood by others. You know what happens when you want to be understood? You explain yourself. A lot. Some call it oversharing, but it’s really over-explaining.
I’m starting my seventh month of self-employment. I’ve done the very things I left my previous job to do – promoted the first book, wrote and published a second book, and done supplementary tasks like keeping the blog you are reading right now. Increasingly, people are curious about my intentions around the business – am I going to grow it, scale it, start offering coaching, launch a YouTube channel? “No” is never a complete sentence with me. It comes with a litany of reasons why each thing feels wrong right now.
Likewise, when I admit any degree of struggle with lack of structure or feeling socially under-stimulated, conversations turn to looking for a job, dusting off and spinning the ol’ resume, etc. I feel a sudden need to defend why I don’t want to return to various things I did in the past, why I’m ill-suited for a 9-5 office job, why I believe that what I’m doing now will open doors for the future, etc.
As I examine my own behavior in these interactions (and the inner dialogue that follows), I realize that my explaining is often justifying, trying to get the other person to admit that my plan is solid or my reasons are reasonable. It’s an attempt to be validated, but what is validation? It’s ultimately approval, making my “noble” desire to be understood into approval-seeking behavior. Living by inner authority is, at its heart, about not needing approval. I guess I’ve acknowledged that I don’t need it, and must work on not wanting it.
I still want to connect with people – connected is one of my core desired feelings. I want to gain others’ perspectives on ideas and situations that are new to me. But as with fasting, I’m saying to myself, Girl, just stop. Stop apologizing, stop explaining, stop justifying, stop approval seeking. Living by inner authority means it doesn’t matter if nobody understands me. It’s understanding myself that is the goal and the gift.
Channeling Inner Authority is Week 13 in my new Book of Contemplations called Unmired: