In a world that often emphasizes productivity, success, and external validation, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ignoring our inner self… Our heart and soul. We may prioritize our careers, social lives, and other responsibilities while neglecting the deeper parts of ourselves that long for meaning and purpose.
How often have you heard yourself say something (either out loud or in your head) that sounded like, “I know this job is crappy, but I’m getting a bonus in 3 months, so i have to stay. ” or “I know my partner mistreats me, but they make a good living and have good benefits. ” or “sure, my house is too small for my family, but it’s all we can afford. ” or “we really need to get away and spend some time away from technology, but my boss might call. ” this is called justification.
Justification is your mind explaining why you’re ignoring your soul.
Justification, or the act of explaining away our results, actions, or thoughts, can be a tool that our minds use to protect us from the discomfort of neglecting what our hearts desire. Justification allows us to convince ourselves that we are doing the “right” thing, even when it may not align with our true values or our heart’s desires.
How does justification show up in your life?
One way that justification shows up is through the stories we tell ourselves. For example, if we prioritize our career over our spiritual or creative pursuits, we may tell ourselves that we need to work hard now so that we can have more time and resources later. Or, we may convince ourselves that we are not talented or skilled enough to pursue our passions, so we should focus on more practical goals instead. For me, my justification story is, “you don’t even like social media, so why put yourself out there? It won’t be worth the hassle and negative comments. Besides, who wants to hear what I have to say anyway? “
Would I need these justifications if this wasn’t something that my heart wanted? Nope.
While these stories may provide temporary emotional relief, they can also reinforce the idea that our souls are not as important as our external achievements. You know, the ones that others can see and acknowledge (and make us feel good… Temporarily. ) in this process, we become disconnected from our intuition, creativity, and sense of purpose, leading to feelings of emptiness or burnout. Have you been there? I know I have. It sucks.
If you find yourself there now or just want to avoid it in the future, here’s one approach to take.
I often ask my clients to complete a worksheet which you can download here. This worksheet is called the wheel of wants. You take the popular wheel of life, and you list out what your heart desires, what you want, in each of those areas.
Now, what typically happens is that my clients will put a few things in each box. For instance, they want enough money to be “comfortable.” They want to be “healthier. ” They want a “satisfying” relationship with their partner. They want their kids to like them. Now, these are good starts.
So, i then ask how many of the things on the list do they already know how to get. Most say almost all of them. I just have to save more, eat healthier and work out, learn to communicate better, etc. Again, there is nothing wrong with that at all. The purpose, though, is to paint a picture – a clear picture of your future self. These wants create a fuzzy picture of a fuzzy future. What i often wonder is what happened to all of their other wants?
Power is in the pursuit.
The pursuit of what? Your wants… Whatever they may be.
It’s important to remember that just because we can justify our actions to ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean that these stories are aligned with our deepest selves. In fact, the act of questioning our justifications can be a powerful tool for reconnecting with our souls, creating our purpose, and finding more fulfillment.
Have you been shhh-ing your soul?
If you find yourself justifying a particular choice or behavior, it can be helpful to ask yourself why you feel the need to justify it.
- Are you afraid of what others will think?
- Are you avoiding discomfort or uncertainty?
- Are you minimizing yourself?
- Are you comparing yourself to others?
- Are you overvaluing the opinions of others and diminishing your own voice?
- Are you giving up the agency that you have over your imagination?
By uncovering the underlying rationalizations behind your justifications, you can pull back the curtain on the story and reveal the rational lies or untruths that are filling its pages. Then, you can laugh at the funny story, gain insight into your true desires and values, and start to create your own story focused around are true wants.
I encourage you to download the wheel of wants worksheet and get started today. Once you have a clear future of what you and your future self want for your life, you can start to make small changes that prioritize your internal and external future self. This might mean carving out time for spiritual or creative practices, pursuing a new hobby or interest, connecting with others you love or admire, or simply taking a break from our usual routine to check in with ourselves.
It’s important to remember that our souls are just as valid and important as our external achievements. By acknowledging and nurturing our internal selves, we can find a sense of meaning and purpose that goes beyond the superficial markers of success.
Know this; it is ok to want. We were born to want. Take back your ability to create the life that you want by starting to want more. I promise it will be ok. It doesn’t make you selfish; it makes you human.