Sometimes deep down, we’re aware that the choice we’re about to make isn’t the best decision. Yet, rather than change course, we offer excuses to justify what we’re about to do.
Instead of preventing ourselves from heading down the wrong path–or admitting we made a mistake–we defensively attempt to rationalize our behavior. Ultimately, we keep digging ourselves deeper.
Although it sounds a bit ridiculous, everyone behaves impulsively, gives into immediate gratification, or overlooks risk sometimes. Here are five statements we try to use to justify our poor choices:
1. “I deserve to be happy.”
Whether someone raises an eyebrow at a friend’s latest love interest, or a business coach warns a client about taking on more debt, a reluctant listener often responds by saying, “But I deserve to be happy!” While you certainly deserve the right to pursue a happy, healthy lifestyle, this statement often gets thrown around by someone who is about to sabotage their chances of achieving long-term happiness.
When you find yourself demanding that you deserve happiness, make sure you aren’t chasing fleeting feelings of happiness. Keeping your goals and values in mind can prevent you from exchanging momentary pleasure for long-term satisfaction.
2. “I’d rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”
When we’re about the break the rules on purpose, or push the boundaries a bit too far, it’s tempting to have this mindset. But if you really believe you’re doing what’s best, why would you need to ask for forgiveness? It’s often a passive-aggressive way to avoid confrontation.
Thoughtfully consider the potential consequences of your behavior, including how it could damage a relationship, before you move forward. If you believe in something strongly enough, move forward with the confidence that there will be no need to fake an apology at a later date.
3. “You only live once.”
Ironically, YOLO is usually uttered right before someone puts their life in jeopardy. Should we really jump off this cliff into the rocky water below? YOLO. It’s also used to justify immediate gratification. Should I really eat a second piece of cake? YOLO.
A rich and full life requires a delicate balance between risk and long-term rewards. Calculate risk and take time to consider how this type of thinking could derail you over the long-term.
4. “I’m just being honest.”
Sometimes, when called out on impolite and unkind words, people claim their insensitivity stems from their desire to be truthful. And while the truth really does hurt sometimes, there’s no need to be overly harsh. Honesty doesn’t have to come at the expense of someone else’s feelings.
Before delivering criticism or negative feedback, balance your desire to be direct with the other person’s right to be treated with respect. Whether you’re masking your insecurity by putting someone else down, or you’re lashing out because you’re upset, your disrespectful demeanor will speak more about your character than your claims of taking the moral high ground.
5. “I don’t care what anybody thinks.”
While it’s healthy to avoid trying to please everyone, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care what anyone thinks. In fact, a complete disregard for anyone else’s feelings is usually indicative of a personality disorder. The truth is, we should care what some people think.
While there’s no need to take a poll to ensure your loved ones agree with all your decisions, if people express concerns about your decision-making, be willing to listen. Set aside your defenses and take a moment to hear about any potential pitfalls or risks you may be overlooking.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.
She is also a psychotherapist and the internationally bestselling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do and 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do. Her books are translated into more than 30 languages. She’s also a lecturer at Northeastern Univ…