“I’d love to help out but I have to go to this Thing…”
“I wish I could but I’ve got a prior commitment.”
“I’ve been meaning to do that but I’ve just been so busy.”
And the least imaginative (i.e. the laziest excuse) of all, “I can't. I have to wash my hair.”
The list goes on and on. We can all be really good at making excuses when it suits us. But what exactly does that mean? Why would it “suit us” to make excuses?
That’s easy. We’re afraid of something.
“Oh, no,” you might be thinking. “Not every excuse is about fear!”
Oh, yes. It is. Every single one of them will be about a fear of something.
There are the excuses we make when someone asks us to go to some event or other and we have absolutely no interest. But we’re afraid we’ll offend them, or they might not like us, or they’ll be angry or insulted. We don’t dare just say “No, thanks.”
There are the excuses we make when we’re dating but discover behaviours or attitudes that we just don’t like in the people we’ve been seeing, and we decide we don't want to see them any more. They suggest getting together and we avoid their phone calls, or tell them repeatedly, “I can’t, I’m busy that night” until they finally figure it out and quit asking.
Or we might go so far as to tell them as gently as possible that “…it’s just not working out.” But when they ask what we mean, we say “It’s not you…it’s me” when we know perfectly well that’s not at all how we really feel. But we are afraid to be honest, afraid to hurt their feelings, afraid to stand up for ourselves.
Then there are the Mothers of all Excuses. The ones we tell ourselves about why we can’t do something that benefits us. Why we can’t pursue our goals. Why we don’t take chances, let opportunities slide past us, walk away from our dreams.
We tell ourselves we’ve just been too busy lately or it would cost too much or it would upset someone if we got this or achieved that. We’re loaded with excuses that we sugar coat as “reasons” so we can cram them down our own throats, foolishly thinking that others can’t see the truth about our cowardice.
The worst of it is that most of what we fear won’t happen anyway. And it’s usually just based on self-destructive and inaccurate beliefs such as “I’m a failure; I’ll fail at this, too.” Or “Nothing good could happen to me. I know it won’t work out so I’ll save myself the disappointment.”
Excuses are always dishonest. They’re a feeble attempt to hide – or at least ignore – the truth. And the truth is always about fear.
When we make decisions based on fear, there will never be a good outcome. It restricts growth and learning. We stay stuck in the same place, thinking the same thoughts, having the same experiences, fearing the same things as we’ve always done. We cannot move ahead if we don’t take risks, be honest, face the truth about who we are, how we feel, what we want and need for our lives.
And that is a terrible waste.
The next time you hear yourself about to offer an excuse to anyone for anything – including and especially if it’s to yourself – stop and think about what it is that’s keeping you from speaking the truth. Try to determine why you’re doing your level best to shoot yourself in the foot. Examine the fear that has twisted itself into an attempted justification for the excuse you are about to make.
It is only when you face that fear - and address it - that you will be able to continue on the journey toward being all you’re meant to be.
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