The Power of Personal Responsibility

Last Wednesday evening I lost it, really lost it. Miserable heat and humidity, smog, too much walking on too little sleep, an asthma attack, dueling deadlines, and maybe just a smidge of menopausal mood swings had me alternately raging and sniveling in a borrowed studio apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

A magazine editor with whom I'd met earlier that day wanted more information so she could pitch my ideas more effectively. Due to a scheduling issue the MSN Money editor requested two posts instead of one. My usual Get Rich Slowly deadline is Sunday but J.D. had asked for the piece by Friday if possible. And I had an unbreakable, business-related appointment at noon the next day, which meant leaving by 11:15 a.m.

“I can't do this,” I wheeze-whimpered. “I'm so tired. And I'm in New York, dammit! I quit! I quit!”

Then I thought of Marilyn vos Savant, the smartest woman in the world, and got hold of myself.

A while back the Parade magazine columnist had explained why self-administered foot rubs don't feel as good as when someone else massages us: Because we are constantly bombarded with sensory stimulation, our bodies dial back any stimuli we produce on our own.

“This allows you to ignore sensations that don't warrant attention, such as the pressure on your foot every time you take a step,” vos Savant wrote. “It also explains why brushing your own tangled hair hurts less than when your hairdresser does it.”

Spinning my wheels
Call it “deus ex Marilyn”: The memory of that explanation helped me cut through my seemingly unsolvable problem. That is to say, it helped me look calmly and rationally at what was going on:

Yes, there is lots to be done and I don't feel good.

But it doesn't all HAVE to be done tonight.

The only person putting pressure on me IS me.

I stopped spinning my wheels and got to work. I also thought about vos Savant's words as they apply to personal finance.

De-tangling your own hair isn't so bad, but you'll likely yelp if somebody else rakes a comb through your knotty locks. That goes for money issues, too: Self-imposed financial choices hurt less, or are at least easier to rationalize, than financial choices imposed upon us.

Nothing's certain
Ever heard something like this come out of someone's mouth, or your own?:

“I probably shouldn't have taken that cruise/bought that new car right now, but I really want it/deserve it.”

But when our finances go kerplunk, how many of us are really willing to admit culpability? We're much more likely to come up with other reasons why the books won't balance:

  • “My boss didn't give me that raise I should have gotten.”
  • “I had to spend $600 on a new water heater.”
  • “How could I have known that I'd need gall-bladder surgery and have to come up with a couple of thousand in co-pays?”

See how nicely that works? We don't have to take personal responsibility for our decisions at all!

Well, except for the fact that:

  • You should never count on a raise, i.e., spend as though you already had it.
  • You knew the water heater was old but you failed to budget for the inevitable replacement.
  • You couldn't have anticipated surgery but an emergency fund would have helped you cope.

To paraphrase Mr. Franklin, nothing is certain except uncertainty. That's why we need EFs and the ability to shift when our situations do.

Each of us also needs a finely tuned bullshit detector. As vos Savant points out in that column, “our brains have evolved to turn down the volume on input that we produce ourselves.” How many times have you muted your conscience to keep it from interfering with getting what you wanted?

The question of choice
A while back I went through some intensive therapy that taught me to look at troubles realistically. Sure, sometimes stuff just happens. What's more common is that stuff happens because of something I've done/haven't done.

This time around I had to acknowledge that Wednesday's humid crapfest was the result of choices that I had made. (More on that in a minute.)

Suppose you can't look at your own financial foibles quite this dispassionately? Get yourself a spotter. That could be a friend, relative or online PF blogger at whose feet you can lay your pecuniary peccadilloes.

If you're lucky you'll get someone who will be honest with you. “Dude, do you hear yourself? What would your reaction be if I said, ‘I can't make my rent because I needed those courtside seats?'”

Maybe you're not ready to confess all, even anonymously to a blogger. Try this, then: Use one of those budgeting software programs that spell out where your money is going — but pretend that it's someone else's cash. If it were John Doe who didn't get the raise but spent a ton of bucks on ephemera anyway, what kind of advice would you give?

Don't feel bad about needing help to stay on the straight-and-narrow. The need to justify our choices — especially the questionable ones — is pretty strong. Heck, I'm 54 and just starting to get the hang of calling BS on myself.

Sleepily ever after
Last Wednesday's solution was all about choices, too.

The magazine editor could have waited another day. Yet I decided it wouldn't hurt to go the extra mile when working with a new publication.

I decided to write one MSN Money post, then select videos and make notes for a second to be finished the next morning. After a few minutes I chose to keep going: For me it's better to sit up late and sleep a little longer than to go to bed fretting over what wasn't done.

And I chose to turn the evening's hysteria into an object lesson, i.e., the need to be honest about your own contribution to life's problems — especially financial ones. Money motives and behaviors are hugely complex. It's essential to learn to think critically about how you earn, save and spend.

This is not to say you should berate yourself endlessly over financial goofs. What I'm suggesting is not punishment, but possibility: Figure out what you're doing wrong and eventually you can stop doing it.

That is, if you really want things to change. It's much easier to blame every single money problem on forces beyond your control. Not having to take responsibility for your actions/inactions is wonderfully convenient, and it feels as good as a foot rub administered by somebody else.

More about...Psychology

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Lance @ Money Life and More
Lance @ Money Life and More
7 years ago

I had never heard of this but it really does make a lot of sense. It explains some of my excuses earlier in life but hopefully I’ve grown up a bit since then.

I’m glad you got through all of your deadlines. I get flustered when something is due in a short period of time and I don’t feel up to the task as well.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

Whenever I have a lot due in a short period of time, I force myself to take a deep breath and prioritize. It sounds so lame. But I force myself to make a list of most important to least. What will matter a year from now? What’s an immovable deadline? Where will I get in the most trouble if I do something late? etc etc

And then I get started. I can only do what I can do becuase I’m only human!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago

Yep. That’s what I wound up doing. I can’t put more hours into the day, but I *can* make sure I use the ones I have more efficiently.

Which is another place to call BS on myself: Some days I feel that I have too much to do. Usually that’s accurate — but if I panic and start spinning my wheels, that just takes time away that I could have to used to, say, FINISH THE WORK.

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
7 years ago

… and you turned your experience into a blog post (and a good one at that). It’s like forgetting to do that essay for homework and then writing an essay about how you forgot. Great job! What you’re talking about is also called cognitive dissonance: the human mind’s fanatic need to paint every situation in a way that I’m the good guy, not the bad guy. It’s why serial killers always have a “reason.” Self awareness is key. Sitting down at a dinner party where everyone’s raving about the money they make flipping houses (this obviously back in 2006/7) it’s… Read more »

Lib
Lib
7 years ago

Sorry to nitpick, cognitive dissonance is the unease we feel when our actions do not match our values. That feeling of unease or incongruity causes us to justify the action that went against our values. The justifying or blaming is not the cognitive dissonance.

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
7 years ago
Reply to  Lib

Nit duly picked. 🙂

Holly
Holly
7 years ago

Excellent post! I am fortunate to have found an online community which serves as my backup bullshit detector. The board users are, for the most part, intelligent and empathetic but with a low tolerance for bs. Many are longtime users and some of us have developed friendships IRL, which can temper the snark which normally flows. They include people from all over the US, all walks of life, and are able to give you a head thwack when you need it. Sometimes even just mentally composing a post about the issue is enough to do it for me, and I… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

This post is particularly poignant after the student loan discussion yesterday. Taking responsibility – what a concept? After reading over 200 comments, I was struck by how many people were just content to pay the minimum for ten or twenty years until their debts were forgiven. How is this taking responsibility? Once you scratch the surface, your finely tuned bullshit detector should tell you that the magnitude of your loans (for some upwards of $200,000) were taken out just as much to finance a lifestyle as much as an education. I find it unconscionable that so many educated people are… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I was going to say the same thing about the connection to yesterday’s post. Nice editorial timing, don’t you think?

I agree with your point that sometimes student loans are financing a lifestyle as much as an education. It used to shock me that some of my classmates would borrow the max that they could and use the “leftovers” for luxuries like trips, clothes, eating out, etc. (And brag about it!) Most people weren’t like this, but I guess the ones who are tend to stand out.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to live large… but one really should make sure that the education they’re getting is consonant with that life-style. If not, then one is better off spending that time working.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Is it okay to live large on borrowed money though? I think most GRS readers would disagree. It seems weird that “I’ve got extra student loan money this year — I’ll use it up on a trip” would be considered okay while “I haven’t maxed out my credit card yet — let’s take a trip” would be a no-no. Though I think I misread the original comment — rereading it now the commenter might have been referring to borrowing a lot of money now to live a better lifestyle later. (Rather than living a certain lifestyle while you’re a student… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Not everyone takes out more student loan debt in order to finance a “lifestyle.” We borrowed more than the minimum on my husband’s loans, and used the excess to pay the rent (in a tiny shotgun apartment), and groceries since we were both in school at the time.

Also, the reason many may be “content” to pay the minimum is that there is no reason to excellerate payments right now. In most cases, student loans carry the smallest interest rates and the interest payments are tax deductible.

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

* accelerate (spellcheck did not catch that…) 🙂

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

It’s responsibility because they borrowed money under certain terms, one of which was that it would be forgiven under certain circumstances, and are living up to the terms of that agreement. I fail to see why this is a hard concept. (Except that I agree it’s more fun to be sanctimonious than it is to think critically about contractual obligations.)

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Katie

Incidentally, I certainly hope you (and others with your attitude) don’t take any write-offs on your taxes. Because that’s just asking other people to foot the bill for your mortgage interest, children, charitable deductions, and state income taxes. Yeesh, didn’t you know that’s what you were getting into when you chose to buy a house/have children/give money to charity/live in a state with income tax? Take some personal responsibility already.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Katie

It certainly isn’t a hard concept to realize that people often choose to follow the letter of the law rather than the spirit. And I don’t think it’s sanctimonious to point that out. Legality is not the end all be all of ethical conduct. I think we can all come up with things that are technically legal but nonetheless reprehensible. Was this loan forgiveness program created for people to intentionally take out loans they never intended to pay? Is it okay to game the system? They are not going to jail for it, but they can’t expect to avoid public… Read more »

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I don’t understand why it’s not parallel. In either case, the government has set up certain financial incentives for doing certain things. You think some are unethical to avail yourself of and some are fine to avail yourself of (even though you don’t agree with some of the latter as a matter of policy). I think that’s hypocritical and a reflection of your own framing rather than reality. Here’s a flip situation: some law schools have a program where students don’t have to pay tuition if they work in certain categories of “public interest” jobs for 10 years after law… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, IMHO you seem to be assuming that everyone using the student loan forgiveness program intended to “game the system”. While I’m sure there are a handful who did, my guess is that most others are people who, as teenagers/young adults, couldn’t visualize the debt they were taking on nor the ramifications of doing so, and are using the program as their last-ditch safety net. The impression I have is that commenters seemed irritated with the apparently blase attitude displayed. I suspect it has less to do with being blase about it and more that those people came to terms… Read more »

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Laura, I don’t disagree entirely, but I will say that plenty of people go to professional school intending to take advantage of those programs, and we should be glad they do (at least, we should be glad they do if we have any sense of social responsibility, which many people don’t, granted). If they didn’t, the only people who could graduate law school and become a public defender or work at legal aid, or who would graduate from medical school and go work in underserved rural communities (remember Northern Exposure?) would be (a) the independently wealthy, and (b) the odd… Read more »

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

All of which is to say: let’s look carefully at what Jane is really saying here. Jane is saying: “If you don’t believe in my libertarian philosophy in which everyone is out for themselves and the government shouldn’t have anything to do with it, you are unethical.”

That’s a belief and she’s entitled to it. You might even agree. But it’s also a specific philosophical position, not a generalized statement about how “personal responsibility” is good. Don’t let her frame it that way; it’s simply inaccurate.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Confused Canadian here: so rather than putting more money into education, the U.S. government lets people take out big loans, pay back what they can and then forgive the rest after a certain period of time? I’m obviously missing something — that sounds like less of a burden on tax payers than the government assuming more of the costs of education. The government seems to be hedging its bets. If people don’t pay back all of their loans, maybe loan forgiveness is cheaper than paying more upfront? I realize that a large part of education costs are living expenses, but… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Katie – You made some very thoughtful points about the issue. You also, however, make some far-reaching conclusions about my political philosophy based on a short comment. I laughed out loud when you said I was a libertarian. I am about as far from that as you can imagine. But I don’t think believing in personal responsibility and being supportive of a social safety net are mutually exclusive. I certainly think that student loan forgiveness has its place. You bring up the more clear cut career choices that might necessitate loan forgiveness. For instance, doctors in under-served or rural areas.… Read more »

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, I’d be very surprised if the number of former public defenders entering corporate law was statistically significant. Those jobs tend to recruit people right out of law school or – maybe – from more prestigious government positions like the U.S. Attorney’s office (which pays too much for many loan forgiveness programs anyway). But either way, if someone forgoes working at a corporate law firm to work as a public defender for ten years, they’re probably giving up $100k a year minimum, possibly much more in the later years. Nobody would make that trade-off just to get out of paying… Read more »

akajb
akajb
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

The thing I find odd about loan forgiveness programs, is that it’s difficult to a) budget for how much will be needed to pay off the remaining part by the government and b) how do you prevent people from taking out the max knowing they won’t have to pay it off? I find loan forgiveness different than tuition re-payment, because tuition is the same for everyone. The loan amounts for two different people getting the same degree can be 10’s of thousands of dollars different. Why should we pay more for person A to up their lifestyle while in school… Read more »

Katie
Katie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

akajb, the loan amounts that are eligible for loan forgiveness programs are based on the cost of attending provided from the school. Loans you take out above that aren’t eligible anyway. So yeah, I’m sure there’re the odd people who are actually raking in $$$ from their parents and using student loans to go to Tahiti, but most of the time the amount included in cost-of-living covers a shared apartment, books, and modest living expenses, if that. It’s kind of similar to how there are a few people who go out and buy boats and declare bankruptcy, but every study… Read more »

Justin @ The Family Finances
Justin @ The Family Finances
7 years ago

I like the idea of a personal BS detector, lol. Even as a PF blogger it’s still easy to rationalize our decisions, even when we know deep inside it wasn’t the best decision.

And it is so true that it’s easy to shift the blame to other sources rather than admit that it was our own choices that at least contributed to how bad our current situation is. The PF blogging community is a great source of support to help you along in your financial journey. Not only to offer encouragement, but to point out areas of weakness.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

This is great! I wholeheartedly agree that we would all be better off to take responsibility for our own problems and finding our own solutions. This not only applies to financial matters, but to life itself.

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago

I highly recommend 2 books along this vein by Nathaniel Branden: Taking Responsibility and The Art of Living Consciously.

Those kinds of books plus a couple of self-improvement experiential courses focused on owning your choices and choosing the life you want to have that I took years ago turned my life around immeasurably – financially and in every aspect.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

Thank you for the tip. I’ll look for those books at the library.

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Laura, (one of) the things I got from the books was the recognition that “no one was coming* – nobody to save me from myself. Even though I’d never had anyone “save” me in my life, I think I still had that delusional kind of thinking that someone else would deal with my messes.

Then I realized that I could actually do this all by my lonesome. Better in fact than anyone else could. What a wonderful feeling that is to experience your own power over your own life.

Joe
Joe
7 years ago

A BS detector, working on both yourself and others, is a great tool in life. I think one of the biggest ways to assist with that (at least when checking yourself) is to chat the idea up with a friend/spouse,etc.

Sometimes, when I have a problem with work (not $ related) I’ll start to write the email out asking for help.. and in that process I realize “D’Oh… THAT’s what I did wrong”. Very similar to the ‘Dude… did you hear yourself’…

.. Communication.. it works wonders.

getagrip
getagrip
7 years ago

Just want to point out that while I’m all for owning your situation, not everyone can so easily take responsibility for their circumstances. Sometimes someone doesn’t have the knowledge, or understanding, to recognize they have other choices. Sometimes we are so stuck in a role; victim, rescuer, provider, etc., that it drives us toward or limits the choices we can even perceive. Sometimes people have other serious issues; grief, depression, drug use, etc. that impede their ability to make any real choice at all. Often, something significant has to happen to allow us to pop our head over the walls,… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

Oh, I agree. I spent way too much of my life being unable to move forward because of those difficulties. (See “intensive therapy,” above.)

Now when I start slipping back into old patterns I can usually spot it. Usually.

Elizabeth K
Elizabeth K
7 years ago

I love this post, and think about this all the time — we are so easy on ourselves, sometimes, “oh, I needed that” and so hard on ourselves others — I wish there was a way someone could always be available to say — “hey, you are just bullshitting yourself here, you are in the wrong” (or the opposite, on those days when we are too hard on ourselves). But, when people try, it’s hard to listen objectively to your own shortcomings. Long message to say — great post.

Budget & the Beach
Budget & the Beach
7 years ago

Your article came at the right time, because as I sit here and wonder how I’m going to pay next mont’s rent without dipping into my emergency fund, I was simultaneously justifying a 5-package yoga class for $29 on a site like groupon. The fact that it’s cheaper means nothing when I’m worried about rent next month, yet I muted those voices inside my head. Needless to say, I won’t be buying the yoga package.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago

Neat post! Go Donna!

I hope you ordered a pizza…

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

No, but I did walk to the corner and buy myself a slice that was as big as a pillowcase. 😛

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Awesome.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Oh, I shoulda linked to the other excellent Donna Freedman post I was referencing there.
http://donnafreedman.com/2011/12/15/strategic-pizza/
Donna learns how to balance time in addition to money!

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

Donna, your post left me literally misty-eyed. It was exactly what I needed to hear this a.m. – thanks so much for sharing it. Although I’m sorry you had a humid crapfest (LOL! My new name for the evil triple H days of hazy/hot/humid – come on, autumn!), you’ve managed yet again to spin gold out of feces. It’s a gift. I agree with #9/getagrip that there are enough extenuating circumstances to be compassionate instead of judgmental towards others (and oneself). A wise friend once told me that if you were in somebody else’s life circumstance, with their upbringing and… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

I’m glad the post helped you today. I can call BS on myself precisely because I’ve had the opportunity to learn to understand what made/makes me react the way I do. (Again: Therapy!) Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the truly obnoxious person in front of you in line may be facing troubles you can’t possibly imagine. One of my best friends says he tries to be patient for that very reason: You have no idea what has happened/is happening to that person. Of course, you should also stand up for yourself when other people’s obnoxiousness is aimed squarely at… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I am now morbidly curious (like a moth to flame). What else does HHH stand for?

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Ha. I love acronyms. I often have to look them up for my writing job, and you’d be surprised by how many you can find.

HHH – Hungry Hungry Hypocrites (band), Halifax Habitat for Humanity, Hot Hoosier Hits (radio station)

I don’t know what Donna is referring to – perhaps Hyperornithinemia-hyperammonemia-homocitrullinuria syndrome (HHH)? Yes, you read that right.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Do a search for “HHH” and “enema.”
‘Nuff said. Except that when I was in the hospital visiting a family member, the nurse was startled that I knew what it meant. All I could tell her is that I read a lot and retain, as it were, even more.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Thanks to Donna, my education is complete. Found the answer at http://head-nurse.blogspot.com/2006/09/bowels-of-hospital.html with the comment, “I only use these in extremely constipated patients with attitude problems.”

I even read it whilst eating lunch, keeping in the New England tradition (or so my DH tells me) of reading/hearing/seeing something entirely unappetizing during a meal. 🙂

FreedomJackson
FreedomJackson
7 years ago

Excellent post D,

The truth is you have to accept responsibility for whereever you are in life or you have to accept that someone else will change your life.

This is not a way to accomplish anything so you must focus on that person in the mirror to make the difference.

Debbie
Debbie
7 years ago

Excellent post, Donna! I’m going to be soon 50, and feel the same way. I think it’s a combination of being tired of getting myself into stupid (for me) situations with my time and/or money, plus acknowledging that at the least, I know what didn’t work and have a good idea of a new direction to try. Gosh, I may yet be the wisest old gal someday 🙂

Denisse
Denisse
7 years ago

I think you can replace money with a lot of words, relationships, career, it’s a nice article.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I take time to remind myself that whatever problem I’m dealing with is more than likely a first world problem. I have a roof over my head, food, access to clean water and air, clothes on my back, no war going on here in So. Fla., money in the bank, a good job, a good husband, a good dog, a good family, good friends. Taking stock of all that I have is a great reminder. As for personal finances, we track our spending using Quicken. We generally only use our debit card for day to day… Read more »

Paula
Paula
7 years ago

Donna; What a wonderful and truthful post. So many are allergic to the real facts, both personally and corporately. I too was well over fifty before my BS meter was more finely tuned concerning my own money management habits and now I catch myself when I make excuses for poor spending decisions. Not assuming personal responsibily, for one’s actions and decisions, is unfortunately pandemic now. This doesn’t just pertain to finances but is a behavior that defines much of our population and government. Most GRS readers are fiscally responsible folks but we are in the minority. This doesn’t bode well… Read more »

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago

Donna, your posts are a cut above! Excellent post. I was away from GRS for a while after being a long-time reader and I have been so happy with every entry in the last two weeks. They just keep coming. It’s good to be back. Great job, JD and everyone!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

Aw, come on Eileen… 😉

BD
BD
7 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Oh man, I’m wincing at your song pun! 😀

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  BD

Well, I’m glad SOMEBODY was negatively affected. My work here is finished. (For today, anyway.)

amanda
amanda
7 years ago

Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed it! For some reason I can’t post comments or “likes” on my computer so I’m happy to be at one now where I can!

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

Actually, my issue is I blame everything on myself, even other people’s actions I cannot control. I should have known… I should have anticipated.. I’m such a fool… Its my fault… Then: I’m not good enough for… I don’t deserve it… I haven’t earned… I guess my “problem” is probably rare according to most of the comments here, but this other extreme is probably equally as unhelpful to my situation as putting the blame elsewhere. I haven’t had a vacation in 7 years because “I don’t deserve it” for whatever reasons. How do you balance? Thank you for the food… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Don’t know if this helps, but a piece of advice I received was to say, “I was mistaken” or “I misunderstood” rather than “It’s my fault” or “I was wrong.” There’s a difference between being mistaken and being wrong – the first is more honest and the latter more judgmental.

Marcy.
Marcy.
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Carla,
I blame myself a lot, too.

stellamarina
stellamarina
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Ugh…..take that vacation NOW. Even if it is to just lounge around the house and local pool with a few walks at the local state park. Look after you….because nobody else will make you their priority.

Patti
Patti
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I used to do this (much more than I do now). Therapy with a good therapist can really help to sort through which of these thoughts are accurate, realistic, helpful or hurtful. If they are hurting you more than helping, then trying to figure out where they come from and how to limit them can make you so much happier. Becoming happier often leads to seeing a different set of choices, which then can limit the overly critical voice in your head.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I think this is a lot more common than you think. A number of the women of I know do or used to do this sort of thing.

An unfortunately large number of the women I speak with even casually show some aspect of this tendency. If I had a dime for every woman who said, “This is probably a dumb question, but…” or “I wish I weren’t so stupid about…” — well, I’d have a lot of dimes. Sigh.

cynthia
cynthia
7 years ago

Thanks for a great post.

Sandra J
Sandra J
7 years ago

Ah! Donna you made another silk purse, no surprise there!! Great post!

Susan @ Travel Junkette
Susan @ Travel Junkette
7 years ago

This is SUCH an important lesson to learn. Thanks for the wonderful post!

Sara
Sara
7 years ago

This is an awesome post for me. I’m currently struggling with extra weight from baby #2. I keep telling myself that I can’t lose weight because I’m taking care of a new baby, just went back to work, and my older son is starting school in the fall and I’m under so much stress, but realistically, it’s because last night I chose to go out to eat and have a huge bowl of penne alfredo at Olive Garden. I’m trying to change my attitude towards making better choices, and my first step is acknowledging the choices I am making, not… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I wish it were as simple in real life as it is on the computer screen. Do allow yourself other forms of stress relief/comfort — working and caring for a new baby and a young child is both exhausting and all-consuming. My own B.S. detector seems to be on “pause” right now. I’m visiting my dad and find myself eating bad (i.e., yummy) stuff that is not helping my weight-loss and overall health goals. I know that intellectually. Emotionally? I want to eat the stuff I grew up eating. Here’s a real whopper of a rationalization: I wanted *one* Wawa… Read more »

Babs
Babs
7 years ago

The need to justify our choices — especially the questionable ones — is pretty strong. Heck, I’m 54 and just starting to get the hang of calling BS on myself.

Thanks for this. I thought I was just a REALLY slow learner. It may have something to do with hormones. If the BS detectors of young women worked better the human race would be extinct.=)

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
7 years ago

Thanks, good advice!

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

This is one of the better posts I’ve read in a long time. Thank you!

Taka Sande
Taka Sande
7 years ago

WOW post! Either it’s responsibility or excuses. You cannot get results and excuses at the same time. Whatever you sow, it what you reap!

This is a wake-up call.

Great post!!

Taka

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
7 years ago
Reply to  Taka Sande

Thanks, Taka, and thanks to everyone else for the kind words.

jestjack
jestjack
7 years ago

Pretty good article…When I get really overwhelmed I tend to read my favorite poem “If” and the words …”if you can keep your head when others lose theirs” always seems so poignant and fitting. It provides clarity to me for what ever reason.

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