I just finished the book "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
The book was a dissection of the reasons why and how people self-justify their actions (as the subtitle clearly states). I found the book very interesting, as well as thought provoking. But the whole time I was reading it, I'm thinking about large and small mistakes I have made and wondering if I have owned up to them....
A very telling point for me was how people would internalize good actions "I did that as I am (smart/good/nice, ect)", while rationalizing bad actions by externalizing the behavior "I did that because (they made me/they started it/they were bad)". And therefore, anyone (not just the evil people) could be made to do horrible things to another person. It is yet another exercise in critical thinking as I continue to make mistakes and justify bad things that I do (mmmm.... really I try not to, but it seems I am one of those people with a lead foot. I will try to change :) *promise!)
Tavris and Aronson also looked at instances in marriage, war, politics, and the american justice system for both self-justification of mistakes and admission of mistakes. Clarity and accountability are not the only things we should be looking for in politicians, but from every person we know.
And the next time you make a mistake remember:
1. apologise sincerely because you DID do it, and
2. don't excuse yourself... we all have choices and you made yours.