Let me tell you a very interesting story about a famous scientist who had a pretty unusual experience.
Does making mistakes embarrass you?
If you're like most people... then the answer to that question is yes. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Because we live in a world that tells us making mistakes is a sign of weakness and it's to be avoided at all costs. And yet deep down, we all know... that making mistakes is the one thing we cannot avoid at any cost.
It's trying to live up to these unrealistic expectations that causes so many people to lead double lives. On one hand, they have a public life (the one others see). They do their best to look like they're leading mistake-free lives. And then there's their real life... the one where they make more mistakes than they care to admit.
Leading a double life is exhausting. Secrets are burdens. They require a lot of energy to keep them hidden. There's just no way to relax while living under constant threat of exposure. And there's no happiness while there's guilt barking like a vicious dog in the back of your mind.
It's not the actual making of mistakes that creates most of our suffering. (Nope!)
Here's what I mean...
When we make mistakes, we also have a tendency to judge ourselves harshly in hindsight and embrace higher than necessary levels of shame and guilt over what we did. And because those states are so painful, it gives birth to another impulse: the urge to escape painful emotions. And it's our attempt to avoid or escape our own self-recriminations (and embarrassment around making mistakes) that opens the second door to suffering: the denial of mistakes.
And so, we become creative at minimizing consequences... geniuses at rationalizing and explaining away our poor choices... and down right experts at covert blame-shifting. We often become aggressive at defending our harmless intentions while disregarding the harmful impact of our actions.
Because none of this happens because we are bad people. This happens mostly because the price of truly admitting to a mistake, a poor choice, or a bad judgement to ourselves produces such harsh levels of self-loathing—many of us would rather weather life with self-denial than with self-recriminations.
It's not that most wayward partners don't realize they've made a mistake (most do), and it's not that they aren't willing to acknowledge to others when they make mistakes (many do), the real challenge is that admitting to themselves that their own choices were poor, and then taking responsibility (without blame-shifting) for the consequences. Many would rather deny having made the choice in the first place... rather than face the unpleasantness.
Once you've made a mistake like this... there's basically only two ways you can go:
- 1) You learn from the mistake; therefore, you are able to correct the things that led to it in the first place.
- 2) You fail to learn from your mistake, and thereby end up repeating similar mistakes over and over again.
Failing to learn from mistakes only leads to repeating the mistakes. Another word for this is self-sabotage. And if that's not what you want, here's something you need to keep in mind about mistakes.
Two types of mistakes
Which one did you make?
The First category is those that come from a "lack of forethought". These describe the naive, impulsive, compulsive and short-sighted types of mistakes. The Second falls into the category called "errors of judgement". These are the devious, vengeful, and overconfidence types of mistakes.
Keeping in mind these two categories, ask yourself: Which category of mistake did your indiscretion fall into?
If your indiscretion was the result of a lack of forethought, then your recovery needs to be centered around improving your emotional intelligence and self-mastery. And if your indiscretion stems from an error of judgement, then your recovery needs to be centered on self-awareness and honesty priming.
Of these two categories of mistakes, most people believe (at first) that their indiscretions fall into the first category (lack of forethought), and yet the it's been my experience that almost ALL extramarital affairs (over 98%) fall into the second category (errors of judgement).
And if you don't agree with me, then I invite you to take the following self-evaluation quiz. All you have to do is answer yes or no (in your mind) to the following questions:
When it comes to honesty, all human beings will attempt to have their cake and eat it too. I believe that's because on the one hand, we want to enjoy the "self-esteem boost" that comes from being honest (it allows us to look in the mirror and feel good about ourselves). But on the other hand, we also want to enjoy the unearned advantages and easy benefits that come along with being dishonest.
Notice, I said all human beings do this. We all try to have them both: Enjoy the benefits of honesty as well as the unearned advantages of dishonesty.
Now you might think that at first glance, we should only be able to do one at a time, right? Not so fast. You see, because of our superior intelligence and flexible cognitive psychology, we humans can in fact do both.
The answer is found in one word: Rationalizations. You see, rather than just taking a wrong action, humans find ways to "rationalize" (rational-lies) our actions so they can appear to be right. And it's in our ability to rationalize our wrong actions (so that they appear right) that leads to the majority of our "errors of judgement" IE... mistakes.
And what does this have to do with
Here's the connection...
None of those questions are random. They are in fact a list of the most common rationalizations I've heard over the past 15 years by many of my clients trying to rationalize - both to themselves, to their spouse and even to me as to why their choice to have an affair was, in fact, a reasonable one.
"Rational-lies" work a lot like a blindfold. They temporarily suspend a person's ability to "see" that they are in fact making a serious error in judgement.
Just like a blindfold only "temporarily" blocks the light, the "rational-lies" only temporarily block reality. Eventually, it dawns that no matter how much or how hard we try to avoid reality, the facts are the facts. No wrong choice produces right results. Read that again. No wrong choice is ever going to produce a right result. Make sense? I hope so. Let's keep going.
Now that brings us to what I consider to be the "smoking gun" found at the scene of most indiscretions, mistakes, and acts of dishonesty. Can you guess what it is? If you said some type of rational-lie... you'd be right.
The most important work a wayward partner needs to do in the aftermath of infidelity is this. Find and remove any and all "rational-lies" used to justify the dishonesty.
Notice how I am placing an emphasis on uncovering the "rational-lies" you used to make a wrong choice appear to be a right one.
Notice I am not making a judgement on why you did what you did.
Also notice I am not asking you to share that information with me or anyone else (you can if it's safe to do so), but being honest with others is secondary. What's primary is the ability to be honest with yourself... which leads us to another key insight.
All deception is self-deception. Because before you can spin a web of lies to trap another, you must first deceive yourself. You must first lie (or rational-lies) to yourself about why it's ok to lie to others. And it's that first lie that gets you into trouble. And so, the first step on the road to wayward recovery begins with you being willing to be honest with yourself.
Many people have a tendency to overlook this step for the same reason we talked about earlier. They fear the guilt and self-recriminations that would emerge if they were to be truly honest about what got them into trouble in the first place.
But that doesn't have to be your story.
You now understand we all tell ourselves rational-lies. You know we all attempt to have our cake and eat it too. You know we all make mistakes—either due to lack of forethought or due to errors of judgement. You know you're not the exception; you are the example of what it means to be human. So, you need not fear the process of getting honest with yourself. Instead, I suggest you allow yourself to actually start to get excited about it. Why you say?
Because it's through the process of "honest self-observation" that the human mind grows, matures, advances and overcomes mistakes. Do you realize what this means? (You probably do.) It means that you have a technology to intelligently overcome mistakes, you have a way to correct the errors in judgement that led you into deception, and you have a way to counter that impulsive reaction that - far too often - leads you into trouble.
It means that your mistakes are not your tormentors—they are your teachers. It means you can meet your destiny on the same road you take to avoid it... because as it turns out, your worse mistakes are also your best learning opportunities. Therefore, how successful or unsuccessful you'll be in life depends on how willing or unwilling you are to learn from your mistakes. So now you have some questions that demand answers.
I'd like to spend the next few minutes giving you a brief introduction to my Wayward Rehab online home-study course. I'd like to talk briefly about how it works, what you can expect, and what makes the program effective—all with an eye towards helping you determine whether or not this course could be helpful to you. So let's begin by exploring what my Wayward Partner Recovery is all about.
LEARNING CHANGES EVERYTHING
(Intro to My Wayward Rehab online home-study course)
What is Wayward Rehab
online home-study course?
Wayward Rehab is a 7-step recovery process that is designed to coach any wayward partner step-by-step towards true recovery. This course will meet you where you are today and take you from start to finish through my complete wayward partner recover process. It's one part self-help, one part life coaching, and one part crisis and coping strategies... that all work together to help you transform your mistakes into learning steps.
- How do you undo the negative effects of your own mistakes?
- What can you do to ensure you won't make the same mistake again?
- What will allow you to live authentically from this day forward? (Hint: the answer is life-changing.)
- Better coping strategies for handling the pressure, stress and painful backlash
- Superior communication tools (including actual words that inspire, heal and support)
- Greater self-observation so you can find (and remove) your own excuses and "rational-lies"
- Self-Forgiveness so there's no more drowning in guilt or wallowing in self-loathing
Since Wayward Rehab is 100% online, you can access it immediately and begin right away to take the steps to rebuilding your marriage. You can learn at your own pace in the privacy and convenience of your home or take it on the road with you. It works on any device, computer, iPad/tablet, or phone.
And just in case you're still hesitant... here's 10 more good reasons to consider my Wayward Rehab online home-study course:
The real challenge is not that you've made a mistake (anyone can do that). The real challenge is knowing how to intelligently respond to the consequences of your mistakes. Sadly, most people don't have a clue how to go about doing that.
You have the option of learning some of the best strategies for handling the aftermath of indiscretions via my Wayward Rehab home-study, and do it from the comfort, privacy and convenience of your home. I'll leave that decision up to you.
Until we speak again...