Self-justification is both normal and dangerous
‘It won’t affect me.’
‘No one will ever know.’
‘It won’t happen again.’
‘It wasn’t me.’
‘I can’t help myself.’
‘I need it.’
‘It doesn’t matter.’
I tells lies to myself. I tell them to justify my mistakes. Or bad choices. I convince myself something is okay when, deep down, I know it isn’t.
Sometimes it’s a simple as buying a bag of cookies in my lunch-hour. ‘I’m hungry,’ I convince myself, knowing full well I won’t die of starvation if I leave them on the shelves and wait for my dinner later.
Or it’s spending money I don’t really have. ‘I need that new Apple device.’ And then come all the justifications based on all the benefits that will come into my life thanks to this magical device.
Then there’s the internet: no one will know if I look at that; that person I hardly know deserves me ranting at them on Twitter; it’s just harmless fun if I flirt a little with that good looking woman on Instagram.
Whether it be eating unhealthily, spending unwisely, or conducting myself inappropriately online, I can find all kinds of reason to convince myself it’s okay.
Self-justification is both normal and dangerous. Who of us like to admit to making mistakes? And yet, if we’re not careful, we can start to actually believe our own lies. We think something actually is harmless. We convince ourselves we’re in control of everything when, truthfully, we know we’re not.
Left unchecked, these lies end up becoming harmful habits. And we all know that habits can be incredibly hard to break.
That is why, no matter how difficult, we have to be brutally honest with ourselves. We need to admit mistakes. Own them. Learn from them. The longer we live in denial about a problem, the stronger its hold becomes on us.
Truth really does set us free. Truth keeps us walking towards light and not darkness.
And wisdom is perhaps best measured by the speed it takes us to recognise a lie we’re telling ourselves and allowing the truth to set us free.
Photo: Isai Ramos