Self-Evaluation Getting past the illusions; accepting responsibility BY: Troy Murphy | November 2016
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A handful of years ago, a group of concerned passengers assisted a young man off the floor of the local rapid transit train. Soaked in urine, and stained from vomit, he lifted his head off the floor, “Stupid people, you think I can’t get up by myself.” He continued with ruthless slander, verbally attacking anyone in sight. The once helpful passengers, moved away, leaving the mean spirited drunk to his own ruins. When asked about his state, he blamed his broken life on his parents, teachers, and government authority. Amazingly, through his drug induced high, flowed a talented and articulate use of words. He was intelligent but far from wise. Sophisticated in words; but foolish in action.
Somewhere between the parents that didn’t love him, teachers that ignored him and authorities that didn’t understand, this young man skirted the burden of suitable behavior for a promising future. We know experience impacts our lives, rotten parents, unskilled professionals, and abusive officials interfere with development, damaging the tender souls relying on their direction. But we must live with our lives; not them. Blaming the past doesn’t correct the present. When we don’t like what we see in the present, instead of excuses for the failure, we should direct attention to cures rather than fruitless causes.
Intelligence can work to our disadvantage. When we formulate justifications and blame with power, we might convince ourselves. But how does that serve us?
The mind’s power to twist experience into logical excuses protects the ego. But this practice is hurtful. The further we drift from normalcy, the more distorted the excuses. Though his bank account is empty, his relationships in ashes, and his employment on the edge of termination, the drug addict insists he is not out of control like more serious users. This dull grasp on reality conceals the escape from the sadness of accumulating defeats. Hope may temporarily ease the burden; but until hope is connected with corrective action, it can’t bloom into realities.
These protective proclivities of the mind don’t only belong to those whose lives are in ashes. The same deficits limit our relationships, exercise programs, job promotions and budgets. While the facts are clear—we are failing, we continue to justify our errant course. We keep entering subpar effort and wondering why we receive subpar results.
" The mind’s power to twist experience into logical excuses protects the ego. But this practice is hurtful. The further we drift from normalcy, the more distorted the excuses."
We need concrete facts and suspicious investigation to conquer the soothing lies of self-protection. We are lying face down on a dirty transit bus floor because we drank too much and are suffering from alcoholism. We haven’t been promoted because we aren’t presenting to management what they are looking for. Our relationship struggles because we selfishly ignore the needs of a sensitive partner. When we narrow our assessments, eliminating fruitless finger pointing, we may learn what actually can be done to redirect our lives.
To escape the distortions, we need better measurements—ones not easily manipulated with justifications and excuses. This often includes professional help, journals, and goals broken down into actions rather than simply hopes of future outcomes. Finances are measured with net-worth statements, better career opportunities follow effective new entries on resumes, relationships evaluated through open communication.
We live one-day-at-a-time but those single days must point towards the life we intend to live. We can drag ourselves off the floor; look our circumstances in the eyes, and change.