I had a conversation with a friend the other day, and she brought up how some use psychological insights to excuse their own or another’s behavior.
For me, it’s a reminder that we are all fully responsible for our own behavior, and yet our behavior – including the unkind and confused one – is understandable and has explanations.
To heal, we typically need to address both.
We need to take full responsibility for our own behavior. I made that choice. Nobody and nothing “forced” me to make it. I can’t blame anyone or anything.
And we need to understand some of where it came from. It’s helpful to understand it on the story level in terms of origins, reasons and so on. And it’s very helpful to frame this in a kind way, also because that’s closer to reality. So often, we find that what we regret the most or are most ashamed of is innocent. It was a confused and innocent way to try to deal with our life and pain, although it may have created (triggered) a lot of pain for ourselves and perhaps others.
Taking responsibility without this understanding can be harsh and crushing. And having some of this understanding without taking responsibility is a cop-out and prevents us from changing and healing. We need both.
This also goes for how I relate to others. I can seek to understand some of why they behave the way they do. I can know that if I more fully understood, I would have empathy for them. And I also see and know they are fully responsible for their own actions.
- Responsible, & understandable
- we are always responsible for our own actions
- and yet, what we do is also understandable
- if I go back to a situation where I made a choice I later regret, I would probably make the same choice if I had the same background, information, etc.
- when we act from trauma – addictions, violence, crime, bigotry etc. – there is a reason for the trauma, it’s something we can understand, it make sense if we have enough information
For me, it’s a reminder that we are all fully responsible for our own behavior and need to take that responsibility to heal.