Sometimes people we love are broken and if we never allow that brokenness to come to light, they will remain that way forever. There are situations in life when we need to stop making excuses for someone we love, we need to stop justifying their bad behavior and instead, hold them accountable. Facing reality can be harsh but denying the truth is even worse for our heart, soul and life.
Every single one of us has used an excuse to justify bad behavior, colossal mistake or wrong decision. We get creative in our justifications of why we handled something badly, chose incorrectly or screwed up because to openly admit we did something wrong is scary. What will people think? We may get into trouble. We may have to suffer consequences. No one wants to face the music, so the excuses get created and we hope everyone believes them.
It's life. It's not pretty but it happens to everyone at one point or another, me included. You should hear all the excuses I can come up with as to why I didn't get much writing done on any given day. I don't believe them, no one else really does either but they are nice enough to let me get away with them occasionally. Though I don't think my husband buys the whole -I accidently fell asleep while meditating - story anymore. Not with the amount of coffee I drink anyway.
Thing is though, how far will we allow someone to go with their justifications or excuses as to why something happened or keeps happening? Especially when the behavior or mistake should have serious consequences? When do we stop making or allowing excuses and start holding someone accountable for their actions?
I was talking with a woman the other day who has a daughter who is constantly in trouble with the law for petty theft, drugs and fighting. This woman has been making excuses for her daughter for so long, even she has started believing them. When I asked her if she thought justifying her daughter's actions was actually helping her daughter to get better, she looked at me like I was insane. She then blamed everything on the fact that her husband left when her daughter was just entering her teen years. All the bad behavior from that point on, was his fault and not her daughters in any way. When I pointed out her daughter was now well on her way to her 30s and that maybe, at the beginning, his leaving had triggered the bad behavior, but now the responsibility rested totally on her daughter, she wouldn't hear of it.
It was only when I asked her if it would take her daughter overdosing or a getting a long prison sentence to get her to stop enabling her, I could see a shift in her thinking. She had never thought about it like that before. Excuses had become habit, habit became reality and until she breaks the habit of justifying her daughter's actions- nothing will ever change.
Excuses are a way to avoid facing the reality of a situation. Sometimes people we love are broken and if we never allow that brokenness to come to light, they will remain that way forever. There are situations in life when we need to stop making excuses for someone we love, we need to stop justifying their bad behavior and instead, hold them accountable. Facing reality can be harsh but denying the truth is even worse for our heart, soul and life.
When you stop enabling someone you love, by making excuses for them, covering up their problems and justifying why they are the way they are, you are giving them a gift. A huge gift. Though it will feel like you are giving up on them, you aren't. What you are doing is loving them enough to allow them to see the reality of their situation. It will hurt like hell, but it holds them accountable to fix their lives. For it is only when you both face the harsh reality can the healing actually and honestly start.
I am so proud of a friend of mine who left an abusive relationship after far too many years of suffering. She had married the man of her dreams who morphed into a man of her nightmares shortly after their vows had been said. For the longest time she justified his actions and made excuses for him. At extreme personal cost. Then, one day, she rediscovered her inner strength, gathered her courage and took back control of her life. No more excuses. She knew he had to be held accountable for his actions and while there would be consequences to leaving him, she wouldn't avoid the reality of her situation any longer. She is fierce.
Not only do we need to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, we need to hold others accountable, as well. We can't force them to change their ways. We can't help someone who won't help themselves. We cannot control anyone but ourselves. However, we can stop enabling them by accepting their continuous excuses, making excuses for them or by justifying their behavior. We can stop freely giving them a pass and let them own their decisions. Allowing them to suffer the consequences may seem heartless but you are in fact showing how much you love them by doing so. Tough love is just that – tough, everyone needs to learn to stand on their own two feet, doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it means you love them enough to let them try.
We as humans can justify anything we need to, in order to make it acceptable to live with. Like staying in a relationship that is loveless because it is convenient and known or accepting excuses from a partner who stays late at the office but comes home smelling of bourbon and perfume. By looking the other way when your spouse comes home from the mall with hundreds of dollars in merchandise neither one of you needs, even though you are broke, and justifying that her happiness is worth the price tag. By making excuses for unacceptable behavior from your children because it is easier to do that, than address your parenting mistakes.
What you allow is what will continue. Doesn't matter who it is, husband, wife, child, family member or friend, when someones actions hurt you, emotionally or physically, stop justifying it. There are no excuses for that type of behavior. Stop taking responsibility for their actions and take total control of yours. Protecting them, especially at the expense of yourself, is not going to do anyone a damn bit of good. No one has an excuse to hurt you, torment you or force you to allow their mistakes to back you into a corner. Find the strength you need to break the habit of justifying their actions. Walk away if you must to preserve your heart, soul and quality of life. It is not selfish, it's self preservation.
Break the cycle.
No more excuses.
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