And then come the reasons why - why we failed, didn't do what we intended or allowed some outside influence to hijack us and cause problems. It wasn't our fault. We couldn't help it. We were tired or weakened or overcome.
Many of you will instantly recognize this as a bit of avoidance. And what are we avoiding? Accountability? Perhaps, but the more powerful question is "Why?" Why do we avoid accountability? Why is this mental process so common?
I believe there is a simple answer to this question. We want to like ourselves. We simply don't want to think of ourselves as being bad people or not caring. When something hits us that raises guilt or shame or implied wrongness we feel a push and instinctively push back.
We push back with reasons or excuses. We push back with blame for others or outside infuences beyond our control. We blame bad habits or bad upbringing. We call ourselves victims. We may even look to some deeply hidden character flaw that cannot be corrrected. We push back with anything we can that will help us feel better about ourselves.
And so, we overcome the foe of self recrimination, feel better and go on. Often that means going back - back to making the same mistakes with no postive change.
How much better it would be if we could simply say. "OK! That didn't work out so well. Now, what happened and what will I do different next time to improve the results?"
It is much less painful and far more helpful to look at postive change in the future rather than dwelling on negative judgement from the past.
You may also want to consider this the next time you want to see a positive change in someone else!