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Someone said this to me today… “I’m only human.” I’ve heard this person say this in other circumstances, where they have momentarily overreacted or seemingly lost their temper.

I have to say, hearing this today, was a bit of a trigger.

I’ve been quite melancholy the last few days. I’m not feeling well. I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally. I’m brewing a headache, but don’t know exactly how to treat it because I haven’t quite figured out yet whether it’s sinus, tension or a migraine headache.

I feel like I’ve been “putting out fires” a lot lately, trying to reasonably handle situations that make me want to scream and tear my hair out. It’s really become too much to cope with on a sustained basis.

I was thinking about this phrase, “I’m only human.” What exactly do we mean when we say that?

Used in the context of making a mistake, saying, “well, I’m only human”… we’re saying we are flawed, make mistakes, will stumble and fall, etc., we’re not ‘God-like’, not ‘all-knowing’, not perfect. Why do we say this? Aren’t we all human? Has someone accused us of being something other than human? Why do we feel we have to bring our ‘humanity’ to the attention of others?

Is it a statement of our ‘condition of being’ or used as an excuse? Should this statement sponge away our lack of control and decorum? Are we suggesting that someone who doesn’t make the same mistakes we make is not human? is perfect? Are we making that kind of distinction?

I ask these questions because of the ‘trigger.’

When I was growing up, a teenager, young adult, I tried using this phrase when confronted by my abuser. Complete compliance, excellence in everything one did, was expected. There were no excuses, no justifications, no tolerance of mistakes.

The response I often got was… “other people are able to do what’s being asked of you, they are human too. If they can do it, why can’t you? What makes you think you should be any different?”

Perhaps because of my history with this phrase I understand making a mistake and saying, I’m human, I made a mistake… but when you make the same mistake more than once and use this phrase, it comes off sounding like an excuse.

I think I’m sensitive to this phrase also because so many people have wrongly assumed that I think I’m perfect, because I strive for excellence and demand a certain level of performance from myself. If they must announce, when they make a mistake, that it’s a condition of being human, what are they suggesting about me, when they suggest I think I’m perfect? Are they suggesting I’m not human?

This really made me think… brought up a lot of questions… just thought I would share them so I could get them out of my head. 🙂