Excuses Excuses!

Take the Excuse-Free Challenge Today!

The other day, I was in the check-out line at the grocery store when I heard a child behind me telling his mother all about why it wasn’t his fault that he did poorly on a test. His excuses included the boy behind him distracting him with his stuffy nose and frequent sniffling and the teacher making the test too difficult. I’m sure if you have children you’re all too familiar with this conversation!

Of course, I chuckled quietly to myself at the overheard conversation and then proceeded to go about my day. As the day went on, however, this little episode really got me thinking: we are all guilty of making excuses just like this child, even as adults! As I mulled over this realization some more, I was able to categorize many of my own excuses, and those heard from others, into four main categories:

Self-Descriptions: I think women are especially prone to putting themselves down as an excuse not to try something new. “I’m too fat to do….” “I’m too out of shape for…” and “I’m too old to start…” are all self-defeating excuses to explain why we can’t buy that bathing suit or take dance lessons or go back to school. But the only person who cares about any of this… is you! I know a woman went back to school to get her associate’s degree at 76 years young and never let fear stop her.

Emotional Justifications: Excuses related to our emotions are more insidious and harder to shake, as they’re closely linked to your mental state on any given day. These excuses run the gamut of “I can’t go to the gym today, I had a stressful day at work,” or “I’m too overwhelmed to meditate today – my mind just won’t calm down!” We let our emotions control us when we make these excuses, as we are giving in to our loneliness, anxieties, insecurities, and more.

Childhood Experiences: We can all agree that our upbringings have an immense influence on our psyches as we grow up. But once we become adults, we do have some measure of control over how we let these experiences shape us. It can be easy to explain away our negative personality traits and habits by saying we were spoiled, neglected, abused, disciplined too harshly or not at all, the first/middle/youngest child, etc., and these excuses may feel comforting to us. We do ourselves a disservice, however, when we let past hurts rule our present lives. The power to change is always within us.

Shifting of Blame: Blaming others for our failures or lack of action is perhaps the most harmful type of excuse because it disavows any personal accountability for the situation – like the boy blaming his lack of concentration on the sniffling student behind him. Although there are some things that are out of our control – someone else got the promotion for which you were being considered and no reasons were given – a habit of frequently shifting the blame corrodes our honesty with ourselves and our responsibility for our actions and our fate.

How About You?

Have you indulged in any excuses lately? Luckily, becoming aware of the habit is the first step to fixing it and taking back control of your life. Releasing the need for excuses can be aided by mindfulness meditation, hypnotherapy, and an iron will.

Take the Challenge!

So here is my challenge for you! I invite you to take some time before bed tonight to write down all the excuses you’ve made today, and make a plan for how you can break the habit. Then, it’s time for action: I challenge you to wake up the next day resolved to avoid making any excuses for the whole day.

As a bonus challenge, I encourage you to share your favorite excuses, and your experiences as you enjoy an excuse-free day, in the comments section below!