When I was attending Indiana University as an undergrad, I got to travel to Prague with a group of students; some students were from the states and others made their way from different countries all over the world. It was on this trip that I was met with beauty, understanding, and patience. I was also met with being “called out”. Our political science class was having a discussion; students privy to the social and political happenings in the world. A debate about how lower socioeconomic citizens could not overcome their circumstances as easily as middle to upper class. I rationally chalked it up in my head that even if you were born into a specific hardship of lower socioeconomic status that you could just “choose” to move away and make something of your life. But what did I know, I was a middle class caucasian woman. I was met with much debate and rationality for why this just wasn’t possible. Sure, there are exceptions where people who have come from very little have made something of themselves, but this is the exception. I humbly accepted that I was wrong after I was met with massive conversations arguing against me and proving their point. I enjoyed this very much about my undergraduate experience and my travels. People interested in learning and heightening their understanding of the world in some way. We don’t know everything. The older I get, the more I realize it is not about what we know. Thought provoking intelligent conversations take place when we all turn towards one another to build relationships.
As Narcissism and selfishness eats our American society, it is time we went back to the drawing board? Why is it inappropriate to humbly accept that you are wrong? Why is it easier to make up excuses, instead of own up to not understanding something or to being wrong? Time and time again from talking to people to being guilty myself, we find it easier to excuse our behavior rather than to understand it. There is some kind of beauty in being “called out.” If you reach for a greater understanding of yourself, it will have to be part of the process.
Children tattle. They run to their parents to report the actions of their siblings. They solicit their teachers to tell about the boy next to them who is not doing his work. In first grade it is almost a right of passage to make sure justice is served. We watch as their age progresses and their maturity in regards to this blossoms. They stop telling on their peers for justice and learn the more appropriate times to contact an adult for real danger. Then something happens. We become adults. It is no longer socially appropriate to go to our boss and report about co-workers bad habits. We learn and understand that chain of command is important and collaboration is imperative. However, we digress in some way from our childish actions. We don’t tattle, but are instead constant to place the weight of a crappy decision on something or someone else. We’d rather use excuses when it comes to taking real responsibility for our actions. I was late because I hit all the red lights. I didn’t finish my reports because I got slammed with other work. First of all, you were not late because of red lights, you were late because you didn’t leave soon enough to manage traffic. Second of all, you didn’t finish the reports because you didn’t manage your time and deadline properly. The cause and effect of an excuse never directly correlates to the issue. You know what the issue is; YOU. Learning how to take responsibility is a huge milestone in personal development. We are so quick to learn from our mentors, parents, and peers that excuses are okay.
Excuses are evolved from a victim mentality. I believe the evolution of excuses is taught and ingrained in us through learnt behavior that it becomes such a natural thing to do. Day in and day out I hear people give them every day. Excuses about why they don’t work out, why they don’t eat right, why they cheated on their partner, why they can’t get somewhere or do something. There comes a time when we have to stop our adult-ish ways. We have to start over, we have to slowly move towards rationality and leave all the bullshit excuses behind.
The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.