Adler believed that people have a moral way of covering their ungodly, awkward, and unwelcome self-centered character from public scrutiny. These methods, in the form of ‘cover-ups’, are what Adler referred to as safeguarding tendencies. They are self-protection measures instead of the construction of what Adler called neurotic symptoms. Most people exhibiting inherent habits of safeguarding mechanisms have low self–efficacy levels and much lower levels of empathy. Safeguarding tendencies happen when one chooses a character that looks pleasurable to the general public and uses it to mask their true nature (Clark, 2016). The results are that such people will have dwarf growth in character due to their failure to accept corrections or accommodate other people’s viewpoints. Alfred Adler explained excuses, aggression, and withdrawal as the safeguarding tendencies used. This paper shall explore excuses as a safeguarding tendency.
Excuses are the most common form of safeguarding tendencies, characterized by self-centered people resorting to statements of “Yes, but” or “If only”. Such people state what they ought to do that is pleasurable to the public and society but second it with an appeal as to why they are not in a position to do it. Company personnel may say, “Yes, we accept and would like to fund your ideal, but the company rules and regulations do not support it” (Pomeroy & Clark, 2015). A person who has lost a job interview might say, “I would be more competitive in this job if I were of a recognized professional body” (Clark, 2016). The Biblical story of Adam and Eve gives us an example of an excuse as a safeguard. The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” New (American Standard Version, n.d.). Adam was giving an excuse for the grave sin that he had committed of eating the forbidden fruit. Eve likewise when asked about what she had done began blaming the serpent. If they had accepted their mistakes, God would have had mercy on them and forgiven them their sins.
Another case of using excuses as a safeguard is the call of Moses. The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”
14 Then the angel of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And, moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart,” (American Standard Version, n.d.). Moses feared the will of God that He was assigned to him. Moses feared to face Pharaoh whom he had previously worked to serve in his kingdom and now God was sending Moses to go and take Israelites from Pharaoh’s slavery would amount to a revolt. If Moses had accepted Gods offer at first, Aaron wouldnt have been required and that would save the Israelites the sin of coercing Aaron to make for them a golden calf that led to all Israelites dying on the journey and lack of entering the Promised Land including Moses.
American Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Study Tools. 2021, Web.
Clark, A. J. (2016). Empathy and Alfred Adler: An integral perspective. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 72(4), 237-253. Web.
Pomeroy, H., & Clark, A. J. (2015). Self-efficacy and early recollections in the context of Adlerian and wellness theory. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 71(1), 24-33. Web.