efore I get into the details…
Let me tell you a very interesting story about a famous scientist who had a pretty unusual experience.
And the scientist, while extremely brilliant and focused, was also a very messy guy. He was so messy that his wife constantly complained bitterly. Whenever he worked in his lab, he would often eat on the job and wind up leaving his dirty cups and dishes laying around for days, or sometimes even weeks. Until one day, it so happened that he’d left a half-eaten sandwich out for so long, it had started growing a strange mold. And as you might have guessed by now, this mold eventually led him to the discovery of one of the greatest inventions of modem medicine: penicillin. The scientist was none other than Alexander Fleming.
The connection here is this. Mistakes can sometimes lead to incredible breakthroughs, but only if we’re willing to stay open and learn from them. Which brings us to another question.
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, they give 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 downright experts at covert blame-shifting. We often become aggressive at defending our harmless intentions while disregarding the harmful impact of our actions.
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 judgment 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 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:
Of these two categories of mistakes, most people believe (at first) that their indiscretions fall into the first category (lack of forethought), and yet it’s been my experience that almost ALL extramarital affairs (over 98%) fall into the second category (errors of judgment).
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:
Are you curious about why so many apply to you? (I’ll reveal why later.) For now, I want you to consider this.
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 take a wrong action, humans find ways to “rationalize” (rational-lies) their 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 judgment”… i.e. mistakes.
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 from 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 judgment.
Just like how 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. Makes sense? I hope so. Let’s keep going.
“Rational-lies” are doomed to fail you. And so as far as I am concerned, the real mistake, the core error in judgment, comes down to the misguided belief that being able to “rational-lies” a decision to cheat does in fact make it okay to cheat.
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”…
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 also (you can… 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 okay 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 judgment 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 home study online 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 Rehab home study is all about.
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 recovery process. It’s one part self-help, one part life coaching, and one part crisis and coping strategies that work together to help you transform your mistakes into redeeming steps.
The purpose of my Wayward Rehab home study is to help facilitate the process by which you can transform your story from one of dishonor to one of redemption, and to help you learn one key life skill: how to turn failure into feedback, so you can learn and grow from it.
By the time you’ve completed the course all the way through, my goal is for you to be able to find the answers to these three key questions:
(1) How do you undo the negative effects of your own mistakes?
(2) What can you do to ensure you won’t make the same mistake again?
(3) What will allow you to live authentically from this day forward? (Hint: the answer is life-changing.)
Here’s a quick list of just a few of the key benefits you’ll get from this 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 what my Wayward Partner Recovery is all about.
You have the option of learning some of the best strategies for handling the aftermath of indiscretions via my Wayward Rehab home study online course, and do that from the comfort, privacy and convenience of your home. I’ll leave that up to you.
Until we speak again…