This article is for the rule-followers, the dependable, the overly responsible, and the eager to please. The ones who know what the rules are (legal, social, moral, and economical), try their best to live by them, and often encourage others to do the same. They view themselves as good people, which is a perception often reinforced by their family, friends, and co-workers.
As a person who intentionally makes few mistakes, when they do, they are quick to own up to it and seek to make restitution.
Yet, sometimes they do mess up and when that occurs, the mistake is often grand. It is as if all the smaller errors they could have made along the way are gathered up into this one monstrous-size blunder. They are devastated, mortified, and ashamed of their behavior – which is what drives them to therapy to discover why this could have happened. Here are seven reasons why with stories for each.
- Hurt. Hailey left the hotel room in shock. The events of the previous drunken night were just coming back into focus. She was out of town at a business meeting, her first since the birth of her second child. She stopped by the hotel bar and one thing led to another resulting in her cheating on her partner. But as the effects of the alcohol wore off, the hurt returned. She felt like she was failing at work, as a mom, and as a wife. Desperate to escape the pain, she turned to alcohol and the company of a stranger whose expectations were minimal.
- Fear. Ralph had given up pornography after his wife confronted him about it. After seeing how it hurt her, he willingly agreed to abstain for the last ten years. But now he found himself late at night, talking to a woman he met through a porn site to arrange a meeting. It happened so fast but as he was driving away from the house he caught himself as if waking up from a dream. His fears came back in a flood of paranoia. The very thing he was trying to run from was now more intense than ever. Convinced that everyone on the road knew what he was doing, he called is wife right away, and the fear paralyzed him resulting in a car accident.
- Insecurity. I guess Im not good enough, Samantha angrily blurted out after a meeting in which a subordinate co-workers promotion was announced. She stormed back to her office, slammed her door, and began throwing objects. In the adult version of a temper tantrum, Samantha raged so loudly on purpose just so that others could hear. Typically quiet, friendly, and eager to please, her behavior shocked her co-workers. But all the times Samantha got passed over for an award, honor, and even valedictorian, surfaced now in a fury of anger that masked her deep-rooted insecurity of not being good enough.
- Inclusion. Desperate to win the approval of a new crowd of friends, Carl shoplifted at a gaming store. They had been egging him on for a while and even showed him how easy it was to do it. But Carl managed to resist their pressure because he knew that it was wrong. Yet, he was tired of feeling lonely and so badly wanted to maintain the relationship with this new crowd that he justified stealing the game. But instead of feeling more included, ironically, he felt more isolated and never even played the game he stole.
- Exclusion. Larry was so caught up in his self-righteous image that he completely missed the irony of the moment. He told himself that the reason he was going to the strip club was to prove that it was wrong and somehow, he would not be affected by it. He was going there to be a witness to others and tell them how bad it was that they were there. By trying so hard to prove that he was different from another group of people, he became just like them. The very thing he wanted to be excluded from, he now was included.
- Guilt. For years, Grace carried around the secret that she was molested as a child. She blamed herself for being alone with her uncle and assumed most of the responsibility for his actions. But here she was in counseling with her husband dealing with her inability to have sex with him. Once again, she was assuming her husbands guilt for cheating on her and blaming herself. Even though she forgave her husband and wanted to move past the cheating, she was carrying around the guilt from her uncle and her husband as if she owned it.
- Shame. Ever protective of his past, Matt hid from everyone that he was physically abused as a child. The shame he felt from his mothers abuse was so intense that he did everything to cover it up. But as soon as he became a parent, memories began to emerge. He stopped himself short of hitting his own child with a ruler in the same manner as his mom used to do to him. Jerked back into reality, Matt broke down, realizing that he had the same potential to be as abusive as his mother.
Its never too late to go a different direction. If you recognize aspects of yourself in any of these stories, it is not too late to explore why and change the course of your life. Counseling helps. You can heal and stop one bad event from turning into a series of irreversible mistakes.