Stop thinking of yourself as a good person.

I’m serious.

If you think of yourself as a good person, if you think that’s part of what you are, then it becomes part of your self-image. And your natural tendency is to defend your self-image. You’ll move heaven and earth to deny, dispute, and ignore anything that challenges your self-image. You’ll project, you’ll deflect, you’ll do whatever mental backflips it takes to throw out any evidence that challenges your self-image of “I am good”.

And that keeps you from taking responsibilities for your mistakes. And you will make mistakes. If you insist of making “I am good” part of your self-image, your choices are (a) never make mistakes, good luck with that, or (b) go right down to the mat, screaming and kicking, to defend yourself against any charge that you’ve made a mistake, ever.

Or (c) let your self-image be shattered when you really hurt someone and can’t defend yourself any longer.

Instead, think of yourself as a person who tries to do good. Even better, be a person who tries to do good. Make it something you do, not something you think you are. Because then making a mistake does contradict your view of yourself, and doesn’t have to shatter your self-image. You just take responsibility for your mistake, and keep trying.

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