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personal work and life

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Taking accountability for one’s actions seems to be a forgotten concept these days. The older I get, the more I realize that most adults never did their personal work. When I was a kid, I’d look at grownups and assume that they had things all figured out—that all grownups were wise, emotionally stable, and mature. As a kid and teen, I went through some painful experiences and I’d look at grownups enviously thinking, “They must all already be healed from this stuff.” But, that’s simply not true, is it? We all meet adults in their thirties, forties, fifties…who just never did the personal work to heal from the things that affected them in their adolescence. They developed strange complexes, insecurities, and destructive patterns that they just…continued on with their entire lives, never stopping to ask why or how do I stop this? Getting older does not guarantee becoming wiser. Only pausing to do real, difficult, and often painful personal work and reflection makes us wiser. And for many, that’s too scary to bear so they just never do it. And they have all kinds of excuses. Here are excuses people use to avoid self-reflection and personal work.



He just wasn’t right for me

When it comes to relationships ending, some people just insist and insist it’s all because the other person wasn’t right for them. But there comes a time one must stop and realize that the common denominator in her dozens of failed and short-lived relationships is…her. Nobody will be right for you if you aren’t right with yourself, and don’t stop to learn about your own shortcomings and flaws.


I don’t have time for therapy

I’ll argue with that that you don’t have time to not go to therapy. You get one life. It’s not very long. And if you don’t address some of the traumas and complexes given to you in your younger years, your life will never really be your own. Your issues will always rule your actions and cast a shadow over your life.


Relationships shouldn’t take that much work

It is true that relationships take work. Some people err on the side of tolerating relationships that take so much work they’re clearly just the wrong relationship. Some, however, err on the side of bailing on a relationship the second it becomes just a little bit difficult. They will argue that relationships shouldn’t take that much work but, really, they just didn’t get things exactly the way they wanted one time. Rather than compromise, they just cut bait.


He just couldn’t accept me for me

Another form of the famous and toxic Marilyn Monroe quote, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” But, people who use that quote tend to usually be at their worst and just rely on the quote as an excuse to never fix that.


My parents made me this way

Yes—our parents made all of us the way we are. But, does blaming your parents actually change your reality? Does it make your destructive habits not destructive? Does it make your toxic patterns not toxic? Nope. You can blame your parents all you want but it doesn’t change your current reality. Only you can do that.


I have self-reflected

Some people go through the motions of self-reflecting, going to therapy, attending meditation retreats, and reading all of the self-help books. But they don’t really absorb anything. They just do it to say that they did, so nobody can accuse them of not doing personal work. But if they’re still repeating the same old destructive patterns, they clearly didn’t do the work.


I’m an adult. I know who I am

Being older doesn’t mean being wiser. I know a few women in their late forties who had two divorces under their belt before age 35, and have never had a relationship last more than 18 months (they’d tell you they had longer relationships, but they were on-again-off-again relationships). Clearly, getting older didn’t teach them much. Time changes nothing if you don’t put in the work.


I’m successful, so I must be stable

Actually, quite the contrary. A lot of people who know they have plenty of personal work to do will throw themselves into their careers as a way of avoiding personal work. We can always use our careers to avoid personal work, personal relationships, and just about anything we want. It’s why some of the wealthiest and most successful people turn out to be the most mentally screwed up. I mean, hi, have you seen the news like…ever?


It’s not like I’m miserable

Not being miserable is not an excuse to avoid personal work. If your standard for how to feel in life, every day, is to just avoid misery, well that’s quite sad. Only through personal work can we achieve great joy and happiness.


I overreacted. So what. I’m human

Sometimes people will say this when they…burn down an ex’s car or…slander an ex-friend and get her fired. They say, “I’m human. I got emotional.” If you do things like this, somebody must tell you: that’s not normal. By “normal” I mean that it’s not common. Most people don’t do that. Most people can feel emotional and refrain from such behavior. I might say that animals behave violently and impulsively like that. To be human means to think rationally and consider consequences.


I’m a mother so I’m obviously an adult

Sadly, some of the most messed up women I know are mothers. They jumped from one short but intense relationship to the next, have accumulated a kid or two from several now exes, but claim since they have children they are adults. Truly, they just made children so they could make someone less mature than themselves, and feel better about themselves. Procreation doesn’t make a person mature.


But people like me

“I’m popular. Men are drawn to me. People want to be around me. People give me things.” Okay but, you can still feel empty on the inside. Also, what is the caliber of human you’re attracting? And how long are those relationships lasting? Having tons of brief, surface-level, exciting but shallow relationships does not make a person stable.


There are plenty of other men

As an excuse for cutting bait in a relationship any time someone asks you to do some work or make some changes, you may say, “There are plenty of other men.” That is true. But, again, I will say that nothing will work with any of them if you don’t do personal work.


She’s just jealous

When a friend holds you accountable for cancelling plans at the last minute to attend some “cooler” high-profile event. Or when a friend gets upset with you for sleeping with a guy she was interested in. You can say, “She’s just jealous—I did nothing wrong.” But, redirecting the blame outward is a classic form of avoiding personal reflection. Maybe the friend is jealous. Does that change the fact that what you did was wrong?


I don’t need other people

The last resort of individuals who are too afraid to do personal work and make serious changes is to say they don’t need other people. Well, we kind of do. We all do. We survive through having relationships and interactions with other people. So this excuse won’t last for long.

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