When people betray others, they sometimes claim “It didn’t mean anything” to try to lessen the blow and make it more palatable to the betrayed or to rationalize it for themselves.
But it did mean something. In fact, it likely meant a myriad of things. It meant a deep hurt and fractured relationship and ripple effects through other relationships and lives.
“I didn’t have a choice” is another common response. Again, the focus is on redefining the situation and distancing the offender from the responsibility of the offense. People have and make choices. Not taking responsibility doesn’t negate the consequences.
Here’s another: “This is the best thing.” But for whom? Sure, it might feel like the best option for the person creating the chaos, but it’s not necessarily best for those closest to the explosion.
These types of responses have something in common. They are rooted in pride. There is a disregard for the impact self-centeredness has on others—those immediately around them, those in the wake of the ripple effects, and those who come long after but still deal with ramifications of something they know little about.
If you’re still trying to justify something is not rooted in pride, ask: What genuine, persistent attempts for humility, apology, sacrifice, honesty, reconciliation, and restitution infuse the situation? If not much, that should be a warning sign. But you can make an effort to change now. Or you can reach out to someone and try to nudge them toward effort. You can try to hold others accountable and speak truth to them even if they continue to diminish the behavior that screams loudly to you and others.
And next time you hear “It didn’t mean anything,” “I didn’t have a choice,” or “This is the best thing,” whether it comes from your mouth or someone else’s, pay attention and determine if it’s truth and if you need to change your perspective.