Friday, May 20, 2011

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Eliot Aronson

subtitle: Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

genre: non-fiction

I know that I personally do not really enjoy admitting when I've made a mistake. I mean, I WANT to always be willing to, but it's tricky and sometimes pretty emotional. This book helps me to understand WHY it's tricky and emotional and what we can do to step myself out of the cycle.

Self-justification. That's their word for the things we say to ourselves to make us feel better when we make a mistake. It's also the things we say to other people to excuse away the mistakes we are unwilling to admit. They talk about presidents, celebrities and married couples and these examples of these people justifying their mistakes really makes it clear (even if it's hard to wade through the murk in our OWN circumstances).

Cognitive Dissonance. This was the phrase that has really stuck with me - somehow I've never heard of it before. When we have two opposite ideas in our head that we both believe to be true. How can I be a nice person (which I believe I am) and have done that bad thing (which I believe I did)? Well, that bad thing must not really be my fault, right? And then the self-justification starts.

Although it took me longer to work through that I'd have liked, I found a lot of the ideas very interesting and applicable. The authors' writing approach felt fresh and candid without too much jargon. I liked how they walked me through, step by step, how someone can become a ruthless dictator and still believe they are "a good person" and the section on "memory repression" was very intriguing also. Probably the best thing I can say about it is that it really has made me look deeper at my own thought processes and realized ways that I can be a better wife, mom and friend. I'd like to be the kind of person that can frankly apologize when I've done something wrong - so if nothing else, this book gave me the courage to believe that in any circumstance, I can do that.

1 comment:

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Sounds like a book I need to read. Thanks for sharing.

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