Justifying a poor decision as you continue to head down the wrong path, or rationalizing the bad choice you know you're about to make, might feel better in the moment. But in the long run, excusing your bad decisions only robs you of mental strength.
Everyone overlooks risk, gives in to immediate gratification, or behaves impulsively at one time or another. But to really grow stronger, you have to acknowledge your mistakes so you can change your behavior going forward.
Here are four phrases mentally strong people don't use to justify their behavior:
1. "I'd rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission."
Whether you're forging ahead on a work assignment without your supervisor's consent, or you're building a fence that will block your neighbor's view of the ocean, it's tempting to have the "beg for forgiveness" mindset. But if you really believe what you are doing is right, why would you need to beg for forgiveness?
This phrase usually only gets thrown around when people are too afraid to confront someone directly. It's often a passive-aggressive way to avoid discussing a matter up front.
If you really believe in your decision, move forward with confidence. If you're not certain what you're doing is right, talk to the other parties involved ahead of time. Refuse to take the passive-aggressive approach of offering a feigned apology at a later date.
2. "You only live once."
Ironically, YOLO is usually the last thing someone says before placing his or her life in extreme danger. Should we really dive head first off this cliff into the ocean? YOLO.
It's also used as a way to justify indulgence and immediate gratification. Should I eat dessert even though I'm trying to watch my weight? YOLO.
Although it may be true you only live once, shouldn't you want to live a full and rich life? Doing so requires a delicate balance between short-term risks and long-term rewards.
3. "I don't care what anybody thinks."
Although mentally strong people don't try to please everyone, that doesn't mean they don't care what anyone thinks. In fact, a complete disregard for anyone else's feelings could be indicative of a psychopath. The truth is, you should care what some people think.
While you don't need to take a survey to see who agrees with your choices, it is important to show regard for other people. Be willing to set aside your defenses and hear what other people have to say.
Everyone has blind spots when it comes to their own behavior. So hearing an outside perspective about your choices could help you gain new insight into your life.
4. "I deserve to be happy."
Whether you're trying to justify your latest choice in romantic partners, or you're taking out more debt than you can pay, rationalizing your choices by saying you deserve happiness doesn't mean it'll make you happy in the long run.
While you certainly deserve the right to pursue a happy and healthy lifestyle, don't let your need for immediate gratification sabotage your long-term efforts.
If you feel the need to tell people you deserve more happiness in your life, you might want to examine the choices you're making. Living according to your values, which is key to being mentally strong, often requires you to forgo momentary pleasure so you can reach your long-term goals.