How often do we find ourselves providing excuses for something we didn’t do, didn’t know how to do, someone else blocked us, the alarm didn’t go off, and the list can be as creative as we want it to be.
Excuses are so tempting as they provide us with the opportunity to save face, not to feel like a failure or to delay doing something because of fear. I have a favorite one: “I’m so busy.” It’s true, I can get swamped, but it’s about choices. Also, if I am going to be honest, I waste time as well with my distractions. I create my brand of excuses as well as listen to others as they provide their reasons.
I was a Human Resources Manager, and I heard a slew of excuses about why people couldn’t do their work. Yes, there are situations where it is out of our control, or one doesn’t have the tools to do their job, yet most of the excuses were because the individual didn’t take the time to either to ask the necessary questions to get the job done, or create the essential priority to do the work.
I’ve been on this earth for many years and recognize when I’m using an excuse because I don’t want someone to think poorly of me, or I don’t want to be honest and acknowledge I didn’t plan correctly or didn’t want to do it. So let’s explore more about excuses versus legitimate reasons why we didn’t do anything.
What is an Excuse?
An excuse is an attempt to lessen the blame attached to a mistake, releases us from responsibility because we have a reason, put the blame on someone else, and it’s an explanation to defend or justify our behavior or performance. When we create an excuse, we are saying “I don’t want to take responsibility.”
We learned how to use excuses early on in our lives when we blame others for what happened so as not to get into trouble. Remember your parents saying “don’t lie” now because we want to shake the sense that we did something wrong. I guess it natural to want to protect ourselves, yet are we doing that when we create excuses?
What is a Legitimate Reason?
A legitimate reason usually happens before the final work needs to be done. A person who takes responsibility for the project will be initiating solutions to facilitate the workflow. The key word here is responsibility. Yes, issues arise which delay our performance, yet when we take responsibility for the outcome, we acknowledge we didn’t do the work, no matter what the reason.
Examples of Excuses
Some examples of excuses that we use often are:
- Not enough time
- Too old
- I’ll do it later
- Don’t have enough money
- I wouldn’t know how to do that
- I’m not creative
Why Do We Create Excuses?
Excuses support our insecurities about who we are, what we do and reduce the level of discomfort around what other people think of us. Justifications are based on fear of failure or fear of embarrassment. Intuitively we know when we are creating excuses to justify our choices so we won’t feel bad about ourselves.
Excuses are Habits
Making excuses is a habit, and we decide not to take responsibility for our choices and decisions. It’s a bad habit because we don’t feel good about ourselves. Yes, in the short-term we feel better, yet inside we know we didn’t do our best. We decided that an excuse would cover this feeling, but it doesn’t.
If you provide excuses regularly, you diminish the trust you have in yourself. Excuses never support your well-being.
Think about the excuses you use in your daily life. I used one the other day because I didn’t do something, and said: “I was busy and couldn’t get to it.” A great excuse to use because people quickly understand “too busy.” If I want to be honest, I could have found the time, though I didn’t want to do it and did something else, which also needed to be done. It would be better if I said: “I choose to do something else and not that activity.”
Do You Have to Excuse Failure?
Failure happens to everyone, and no one has lived a life without failure in it. There are reasons something didn’t work out as planned and our first reaction may feel like a sense of failure, hence why we use excuses to block out a sense of failure. What if we took the time to step back and review what didn’t work, why it didn’t and how could you have done it differently to create a different outcome.
Failure is the opportunity to learn and build a stronger way of handling your life.
Where Would You Be Without Our Excuses
Probably a good indicator that we are using excuses is using the word “but.” For example, “I would have done it, BUT someone else didn’t give me the information.” For me, whenever I use an excuse, I don’t have to handle something, but in the back of my mind, the excuse nags me because I know it’s an excuse.
So what if we were to stop excuses and instead honor the real reason? Acknowledging the truth behind an action, helps us become aware of what we are doing, the opportunity to change it, and to stop the nagging thoughts in our mind because we can let it go. The nagging mind takes a lot of our energy.
To let go of excuses, we need to add some tools:
A great tool to have in our life as it’s about being kind to ourselves. Most of us know how to be kind to others, though they are super critical of ourselves. Allowing yourself to think kind thoughts around your mistakes, helps build confidence as well as self-love. What you can do to increase your “self-kindness” muscle is to reframe your thoughts.
For example, what if you think “I never seem to get things done” and instead “I know I try to do too much and can’t do everything, so am prioritizing what is most important and will complete those activities.” You give yourself a softer view of yourself, recognizing that you can’t do everything and will know what is most important.
I Don’t Have to Be Perfect
For many people, our subconscious has a belief that we need to do everything correctly and if we don’t others will judge us. The “perfection” belief is a heavy burden to carry. We need to unload this baggage quickly in that it blocks us from experiencing life in it’s fullest. The belief we must be perfect cages us and limits us.
Here is something that you need to know: Most people are so involved in their thoughts and lives, they aren’t paying lots of attention to us. It’s hard to believe we are not the center of attention, though this is an excellent time to let it go, relax with the best each of us can do, and not allow our thoughts to give credence to the belief that we must be perfect. Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t try our best. Instead, it’s about enjoying doing our best, whatever that is, and then letting it go.
For example, instead of delaying doing something because you are anxious it will not be perfect, reframe your thought and say “I will do the best I can do at this moment” and then let it go. Letting go of perfection releases a heavy burden.
I am Enough
I never thought to say this to myself, until I listened to Marisa Peer “Live an Uncompromised Life.” In it, she shares these three powerful words: I AM ENOUGH. This mantra opens your mind and releases so many negative thoughts about yourself. Saying this mantra, posting it in prominent places and doing whatever you can to embrace this thought, will enhance your well being.
Do you feel that excuses are helpful in your life? Do you know when you are making an excuse and when there is a legitimate reason for the reduced performance? How have excuses hindered your growth?
Women’s Group Topics
Under “Your Thoughts” section are great topic ideas for your group. How have excuses blocked you in your life? This topic will open up possibilities to see things differently, make different choices and release those nagging thoughts that follow you around because you are making excuses.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
Other Posts You May Be Interested In
Do You Have Too Many Shoulds?
What’s This About “Letting Go?”
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