I have a friend who talks a lot. We have great (and long) conversations about many different topics, from NFL (go Saints! … oops … right, they are not in the Super Bowl) to travel to politics to dog training to business marketing. Often I find myself looking at her with glossy eyes as she loses the focus of the conversation after she adds the works “because” to her topic. Then I started to notice how often I, and others, add the word “because” before anyone even asked the question “why?”
Because means “for the reason that …” Why are so many of us feeling the need to give the person a reason for why we think the way we think, why we do what we do, why we want what we want, etc? Why do we feel the need to justify or qualify our actions, or simply, our being? Are we looking for agreement, or consensus, or are we afraid of what the other person thinks of us, or are we afraid of what I think of myself. Why do we have to justify or qualify everything?
In the human brain, there seems to be a need to legitimize ourselves, both to ourselves and to others. It reveals our deep need for acceptance. In his book Ego Defenses and the Legitimization of Behavior, Swanson (1988) thinks of all ego defenses as “justifications that people make to themselves and others—justifications designed so that both the defender (ourselves), and other people, can accept them.”
Of course, there is a basic human need for acceptance amongst our peers, but it sounds like Swanson is also saying there is a deep need for us to accept ourselves. I believe self-acceptance is a foundation for inner peace, a lightness of being, a corner stone to self-realization whereby we are able to express our unique creativity, perspective and the deep longings of our hearts.
Start to notice if you offer up the word “because” a lot in your conversations. Consider your need for acceptance amongst your peers and for yourself. And then, simply try to fast the word because. Try not saying the word because (unless someone asks you “why”) for a day, a week, a month, and see how it feels to simply accept your thought, beliefs and actions. Own your thoughts. Experience what it feels like to accept personal responsibility for your thoughts and actions without having to justify anything. This can be one of your steps towards the beauty and power of self-acceptance.
Enjoy the journey