Kicking the Can Down the Road


Humans are motivated by their behaviors, motivations and goals and one thing we all do is to kick the can down the road. We spend an inordinate about of time and energy doing the things we want to satisfy our desires, regardless of the consequences, telling ourselves that it will all turn out fine somehow. Hopefully this piece shall shed some light on how we might solve this form of stinking thinking.

First some examples from my private life to show how I am not exempt from this type of self-deception.

My alter Bianca loves to shop online. She will order things using my debit card without caring how those things will be paid for later. Actually, “I” not “she” will shop and spend money unchecked without caring what will happen later down the road, or the necessities that will not be paid for that my family will need. There no regard to the future, but I have hidden this behavior doing my shopping behind closed doors so my family can’t see. When the things I bought arrived in the mail and I was forced to explain to my family the money earmarked for necessities had been spent. Not only this, but I’d actually get defensive and angry when I was confronted with our lack. I told myself that I deserved what I was buying as I was the main breadwinner in our family, and dammit I deserved those things.

I also live with an addiction to prescription drugs, which, thank God is now in remission. When my use was active, I would pop pills without regard to what was happening to my body and mind. I pushed away any thoughts or warning signs that what I was doing was harmful because I knew what I wanted and I was chasing that high. I did this behind closed doors and became angry and defensive when my brother would bring the subject up, trying to point out that what I was doing was hurting me.  I told myself that I had a right to use those drugs the way I did for many reasons. Not only this, but I would get those pills anyway I could, and have even stolen other people’s medications out of their medicine cabinets not caring that they may need that drug for a legitimate purpose.

It’s easy to see what I was doing, I was not being honest with myself or others and by kicking the can down the road I didn’t face the consequences of my actions. I had a devil may care attitude about the safety and future of both myself and my family. I didn’t care if we had enough gas, or even if my life might end tragically because of an accidental drug overdose. I told myself, “I deserve this”, lying to myself to chase what I thought I needed and wanted.

So, what’s the harm in kicking the can down the road?

When you kick the can down the road it you tell yourself that it won’t come back to haunt you, but it ALWAYS WILL.

Putting things off until later guarantees  that the pain will still be there and it will be worse when you eventually face it.

For instance, when I would shop or pop pills, the reasons I was giving myself for doing so such a hiding from an emotion pain or not caring whether we had gas money later (I had what I call the magic debit card syndrome), it would ALWAYS come back to kick me in the butt.

This is not a matter of IF, it’s is a matter of WHEN.

I think that “it will never happen to me” thoughts are the things that play so well into any kind of stinking thinking, but especially kick the can down the road mentality. Below are only a few of those thoughts, see if you recognize yourself in any of them:

  • I will never get cancer, so I’ll go ahead and smoke
  • I will never have cirrhosis of the liver, I’ll just go ahead and drink
  • My children are fine, they don’t need me to be home from work and help them
  • Those bills will get paid somehow, I’ll go ahead and gamble
  • They will never arrest me for using marijuana to hell with the law
  • I’ll use my kid as a sex toy, hell, they’ll outgrow it
  • Hell, soda pop isn’t harmful. I’ll drink it even though I am overweight and having problems breathing
  • I want to be rich so to hell with everyone else, I’ll use them to get what I want]
  • Pregnancy and STD’s only happen to losers, I don’t need to use a condom

The list is endless.

Can you hear the selfishness in the above statements? We chase our desires not caring for the consequences of our actions. I know writing this piece may stir up some harsh emotions in some, but I’m trying to convey a very important point. When we put off until later what we should face today, we set ourselves and those we love on a collision course for disaster. Nothing can be accomplished by not facing every problem, fear, anxiety, and trouble head-on, only chaos will be the result of kicking them down the road and not dealing with them with an open mind.

What is the answer?

I’m not sure I have the answer, but I am sure no one else does either.

However, I believe the first step is to practice total and complete honesty with our families, our friends, and most importantly with ourselves. We need to own up to our failures and shortcomings and this is okay to do because all of us have them. There is no one who is perfect or never made a mistake. Instead of blaming our pasts, our financial situation, our color or any other demographic on our problems, we need to take a hard look at who we truly are as people.

I’ve endured 27 years of psychotherapy, and let me tell you really, truly looking at yourself with open eyes hurts like hell. I have seen someone I truly did not want to be looking back at me in the mirror of psychotherapy, and my self-esteem took a hard hit. This occurred not just once but multiple times. It was after I began to look at myself this way that I began to experiment with not kicking the can down the road. Am I perfect at not doing so? Nope. I don’t think that anyone could ever truly be perfect at not kicking the can down the road because it is a totally human behavior, but one that has gotten humanity into a lot of trouble.

Remember, life is a journey of changing who you are, not a goal to seek after. We all learn by trial and error, that is how we learn and grow.  It is not hopeless, we can practice honesty with ourselves and others fearlessly and with courage. That is the only answer I can foresee

We as a family have also begun to look honestly at ourselves and each other. We now sit in our kitchen on Saturday mornings and have candid and open discussions about anything we need to change in ourselves or would like to change in our relationships with each other. It sucks sometimes, but once we’ve aired our grievances, we find ourselves freed from the need to kick how we feel about one another down the road and our family has grown closer.

There is strength in knowing yourself and being honest about your behaviors, motivations, and goals. Once you practice honesty, you will find that the need to hide what you are doing goes away and you feel better about yourself.

Kicking the can down the road by avoiding our downfalls and denying how we can change our lives for the better leads to destruction, while honesty with ourselves and others leads to freedom.

The choice belongs to each of us.

“True courage is being honest with yourself, especially when it’s difficult.” Mr. Robot