I’m too stressed to worry about my credit this year.
My relationship will get better once _____ happens.
My resume is old and it will take too long to write a new one.
The weather isn’t right.
I would see my friends, but they live an hour away.
I’m too fat to work out in front of people.
I have a cold.
Sometimes excuses are what get you through the day, the month, the year – and in extreme cases, your entire life. The occasional white lie is necessary at times, but what happens when you habitually tell these little white lies to yourself?
Excuses are an illusion, somehow making it acceptable not to do whatever it is you committed to or planned to do. The momentary relief you feel knowing you’ve “gotten off the hook” is likely masking the real harm excuses are doing to your quality of life.
Ask yourself – why am I being less than truthful? If you’re someone whose excuses have dominated your pattern of behavior, it might be time to reflect on why you’re avoiding responsibility for your actions. Are you trying to hide your shortcomings, in fear of what your family, friends, or coworkers might think? Do you avoid social situations to hide the fear of inadequacy? Do you stop yourself from opening up to others, in fear of the ensuing vulnerability? Do you make excuses to avoid change?
Underneath the illusion of justification is the spine of the excuse – a fake or embellished reason to not do something. You’re lying to yourself, and it’s these lies that are holding you back.
One particular semester of college was insanely stressful for me. There was chaos in my family life, love life, and work life. I was over-extended and my grades were slipping fast. That’s when I started avoiding my friends and study groups, fearing they would scrutinize me in my weakened state, scared of how vulnerable I already felt. I made excuses left and right, anything not to see them. I put so much effort into excuses when I should have been studying with them and benefiting from the help they offered.
When I finally told my friends what was going on, they were still my friends. Imagine that! Accepting their support, I finally realized how my useless excuses hurt me more than anyone. I made it through the semester by the skin of my teeth.
This is usually when I list a few things to help break the excuse-making cycle, but there’s really only one thing to do.
Don’t make an excuse – make a choice.
Choices are empowering, excuses are excuses. I wasn’t able to break the excuse cycle until I made the choice to face my friends and embrace my fear of vulnerability. There is always a choice. You either choose to do something, or you choose not to, even if that choice means having to face your fear. I suggest you choose to confront the honest reason for your excuses.