Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Excuses

Tonight I was at home working late on multiple important projects.  I was stressed out, focused, and in a flow state with a mental house of cards carefully built up as I worked through the problems trying to make the best decisions.

My wife wandered in and told me we were out of eggs. My flow state disappeared and I forgot what I was thinking about.  The house of cards collapsed. I got annoyed at the trivial interruption and snipped at her. Offended, she snipped back and then left me alone.

I got back to work and wrapped stuff up in a few hours.  I still felt bad for snipping at her.  I was ashamed of acting like that.  So I went to apologize.  She was already asleep but I woke her up anyway.  There were lots of excuses for me to act like I did and all of them wanted to jump out of my mouth and justify my behavior.  Work stress, long days, cranky baby, tired, the list went on.  I paused and fought back against my excuses.  I'm not ashamed to say that it wasn't easy, some part of me wanted to justify what I did.  But I didn't;  I said I was sorry and there was no excuse for acting like I did.  I asked for her forgiveness.  I was able to go to bed with my conscience clear but I still couldn't sleep.  A question was still bothering me so I got on here to try and write it down.

Why do people make excuses for our behavior?

I can understand the desire to make excuses.  I felt the pull myself tonight.  The justification feels like instant absolving of the wrong and being absolved feels better than guilt.  But in reality, excuses only serve to justify poor decisions.  By justifying them we are, in a way, claiming they were the right thing to do.  Excuses allow us to hide a "wrong" behind a facade of "right" and lie to ourselves.  Justifying things helps us pretend that they are out of our control.  We don't try and fix our behavior and do better next time.  Justifying poor decisions means that in the same situation in the future you're going to make the same poor choice and do it again.  The only way to really escape the shame and guilt of mistakes is to take a lesson from them.  If not, you've wasted an opportunity.

It's alright to make mistakes.  Don't make excuses or you run the risk of poor decisions following you around.