Stop Painting Red Flags Green

My mind’s capacity to rationalize just about anything

My best friend came up with this saying during one of our “epics”, a walk and talk sessions sometimes lasting a couple of hours depending on our musings.

The saying has stuck with me since, and it is curious to me why we sometimes will overlook the obvious “red flag” warnings and ignore it altogether or mute the warning by rationalizing it away. Why do humans have such a poor track record at learning from our mistakes, often repeating the mistake over and over and not learning the intended lesson. With our “superior” intelligence, why do I continue to make idiotic mistakes???

I will give myself credit, I am getting better at learning when the “red flags” are popping up and mindfully noticing what is happening in my body when these flags become present and my intuition is barking at me. So now I am in a place where I am able than to take a step back and laugh at myself when I can see myself picking up the green paintbrush and motioning to change the red flags. Ultimately I know I am better off paying attention to these early warning signs and avoiding the mess and the painful life lessons that typically result from these misguided choices, but it is not always easy to do.

For me, the hardest thing I grapple with is my willingness to give a person the benefit of the doubt. It has gotten me into so much trouble, and I have spent years rationalizing people’s bad behaviour with a plausible explanation why they did what they did. In my own quest to accept my own imperfections, I am more willing to accept these “flaws” in other people and make excuses. So this is presumably a good thing, but has also gotten me into a great deal of trouble in navigating the tricky waters of human relationships, especially when it comes to the early days of dating. Perhaps its an occupational hazard of being a therapist.

I am fumbling with the lesson of discernment; to know when it’s ok to excuse the behaviour and when I need to throw in the towel and run away… not walk… but run. I wish I could say that I have had a great epiphany around this and have been able to figure out the magic combination, but sadly that is not the case. I know in talking to people that this is a common problem, that I am not the only one with this challenge. Sometimes the lessons are hugely painful, sometimes the consequences are dire. But is this the human condition?

Maybe the lessons we learn through muting the warning signs, is all part of the plan. It’s how we evolve and become smarter. It’s only by going through these painful experiences that we learn how not to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Perhaps this is how we acquire wisdom; through the harsh lessons gained through hindsight. The only hope we can gain is by learning how to trust ourselves and learn how to be brave and stand up for ourselves and establish healthy boundaries. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to trust myself. This was a hugely painful lesson, and perhaps not everyone is in the same position. Kudos to you!!! Despite the pain, I am happy with where I am at today. I am now catching myself making the most asinine excuse for why a person is acting the way they are and in realizing this I can make a “wise” decision before another painful lesson ensues.

Here’s hoping!!!!

Much Love


Passionate entrepreneur, psychologist and mother of 3, empowering others to find their voice. Finding & expressing my own voice through my writing.

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