Have you ever found yourself in denial? In denial, looking for a believable explanation why you didn’t do anything wrong?
Sometimes we try to preempt the desperation for explanation by acting in ways that can be qualified in a favorable way later. By looking for the sweet spot of ambiguity as you go. Plausible deniability. Intentionally doing just enough so that there’s wiggle room. Keeping your opinions and participation vague by design so that you can wait to see how people respond.
If others like what you did, you can stand tall with pride, take all the credit, and let the praise wash over you. If others don’t like what you did, you can deny away and distance yourself from what happened.
I didn’t say that. That’s not what I meant. I wasn’t in charge of it. I was going to but I couldn’t. I didn’t know about it. It wasn’t me.
You’ve never done that, right?
Plausible deniability has become a way of being for many. Relationships are scary. Bosses are scary. Looking like a fool or a failure is scary. Making mistakes and dealing with the consequences is scary. Best to make sure you have a way to keep up appearances in case things go south. Staying on the path of plausible deniability keeps you in the safe zone.
But safe is not where life is. It might prevent you from pissing someone off or losing followers on social media. But it will also prevent you from being your real self and having real relationships with other people.
Expressing ideas and opinions you stand behind, making mistakes, and confidently trying things that might fail are essential to becoming a more flourishing person. If you get knocked down, you learn how to get back up stronger and wiser.
So stick your neck out. Be yourself. Own what you say and do. We need to embrace the scary and the relational friction and being knocked down if we’re ever going to get anywhere.