Welcome to Format Free Fridays at AskDrDarcy.com, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited advice.
If you’re human, you rationalize your way into behaving in ways that aren’t good for you, that hurt you and that sabotage your happiness. You behave in ways that undermine your relationships, your wealth and maybe even your health. You call it explaining, but I call it excuses. Sure, you have reasons why you do what you do and why you don’t do what you don’t do, but your reasons are nothing more than thinly veiled excuses and I’m here to put an end to it. The excuses stop today.
Folks, every aspect of your life is your own making - your own design. You create every brushstroke. Every relationship. Every hello and every goodbye is of your own doing. Even as I write this, I can feel your explanations bubbling up. Be quiet. Listen. You might learn something.
Earlier this week I got into a fight with a friend. I didn’t return her phone call and she was pretty pissed off at me because she happened to be in the throes of a meltdown. When I finally called her, 5 hours later, she let me have it, telling me how disappointed she was in me. She reminded me that this wasn’t the first time I’ve let her down. But I couldn't call her right back because I was in a deposition all day. So, to me, it seemed like a good explanation. In reality, I was both making excuses and making her feel worse. And that’s what you do every time you explain yourself to a friend, a boss, a coworker or a partner who you’ve let down. Your ‘explanations’ are excuses, designed to make you appear to be less of an asshole than you (likely) are. You express your perspective, your opinion, for selfish, self-serving reasons. You want to feel better about yourself. You want the person who you’ve hurt to tell you that you’re not an asshole. I’m betting you are.
People rarely care why we let them down. They only want an apology and to hear that we’ll make an effort not to repeat the mistake in the future. Why, then, is it so hard for us to skip over the horseshit and jump to I’m sorry? Sure, we eventually make the apology, but only after we’ve been absolved, forgiven, reassured that the person understands that our motives were good, pure and absent of mal-intent. It’s selfish, it’s manipulative and it’s self-serving. Stop doing it. Today.
The fix is simple: Say you’re sorry, and then shut up. That’s all. Here’s what that will do: Not only will it spare the listener from having to hear your bullshit excuses, it will also open your mind and enable it to identify ways that you might have avoided committing the wrong. Our minds are amazing. They hear the words coming out of our mouths, and when our language allows for self-reflection, we hunt for alternative ways to behave in the future.
And there you have it. Decide today to stop being an asshole. One day at a time. And hey, if you’re among my minority followers at AskDrDarcy.com who isn’t either related to me or one of my closest friends, consider submitting your next question to me via Skype! Just click “Ask A Question” and let me know that you’re open to Skype. It’ll increase the likelihood that I’ll answer you.