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Excuses Are Bullshit. You Should Get a Refund!

Photo Credit: Graham Hills

“Step right up!” He hawked. It seemed like a good idea at the time, didn’t it?

All the excitement. The crowds, everyone clamoring for a chance to buy some.

“This amazin’ elixir’ll cure everything from baldness to hemorrhoids,” he promised.

How could you not buy in?

The truth is someone has sold you a load of snake oil about why you can’t (or aren’t) living the life you should be living and you need to take that shit back and get a refund!

Sad thing is, you may actually be the one who’s been selling you this baloney.  Maybe you bought it at wholesale from someone else, and then you re-sold it to yourself in retail-sized packages.

Either way, it’s time to get rid of it cuz excuses are horsepucky.

Two Types of Excuses

The excuses that you and I buy into every day that keep us from pursuing the life we deserve, can be divided into two categories–excuses of obligation and excuses of lack.

You’ve probably used both but may not have really thought about the difference.  Think back to when you were a kid and your mom said, “go clean your room.”

“I can’t,” you replied.

To which she responded, “Why not?”

“I have to do my homework.” Suddenly you were overcome by the obligation of your responsibility to work on your homework.  That’s an example of an obligatory excuse.

Imagine instead that you answered, “I don’t have enough time before I have to leave for school.”

That is an example of an excuse based on lack. Both types are bullshit!

What Is An Excuse, Really?

It’s a belief that we hold that allows us to abdicate responsibility for our lives.

As adults we become even more proficient in the use of excuses to avoid taking responsibility for our lives.  In fact, we often use responsibility as the excuse.

I have a family.

I have to be responsible.

I have a house payment now.

I have a good job.

Excuses allow you to hide.  They allow you to pretend that you are less than you really are. They allow you to fit in and mask the guilt of failing to live up to your potential.

You have everything you need to craft a well-lived life.  There is no lack. So when you find yourself saying things like “I don’t have enough time/money/education,” etc., stop yourself.

You are using your belief in “not enough” to destroy your life.  You are abdicating responsibility for your life to someone else.  And believe me, if you do not live your life, someone else will–your government, your boss, your family.

Creating a well-lived life takes courage. Period.

Those who are truly living their lives are not necessarily smarter than you.

They don’t necessarily have better opportunities.

They are definitely not more worthy or deserving of the life they lead.

They have found the key, though.  It lies in the fact that they truly lead their lives.  They wake up, take courage, and they live!

You can too.  You can decide that you are going to live your life. You can decide that you are done with excuses.  You can replace your excuses with new beliefs based on abundance and power instead of weakness and lack.

You can recognize that your world is nurturing and responsive.  It lies waiting for you to take up your power and go forward into the world as you were meant to–empowered with confidence and strength.

The choice is up to you.

About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve Rice and my goal is to transform simple philosophical truths into practical fuel to revolutionize your life. It's not about self-help, it's about self-reliance. I show you how. Connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and let me know how I can help you.

  • Hi Steve
    Amazing post. Great breakdown of the two different types of excuses. I definitely have been guilty of using both plenty of times in my life! The excuses of obligation are the ones that are most problematic I think for many people — they tended to settle into the conventional life of getting married, having kids and getting that house in the suburbs and by time they figure out what they really want, they feel they are too mired down in that life and all of its responsibilities. This is not to knock that existence as I am sure many people are perfectly happy with that, but sadly many are not and they just went that path because they felt they had to. No doubt certain circumstances make things more challenging for us, but challenging does not mean impossible. If we want something badly enough, we find a way to get it. People have done amazing things in this world while having children or dealing with myriad other responsibilities in life.

    • Steve

      I completely agree with you, Kelli. I see this very often. I think that’s why many people go through a “midlife crisis”…it really is a crisis of self. It’s sad, really.

      You point out a really great point. I’m going to borrow that for a future blog post or podcast. We kind of create our lives by default (college, marriage, house, kids, etc) and by the time we look up and realize we want something different, we feel overwhelmed. There are so few people charting their own course that we begin to believe that it is impossible.

      Then, we believe things such as job=stability and security. We think that we have to do “x” or “y” for the kids. We think that we have to have a certain level of lifestyle to match what those around us have. And we’re firmly imprisoned by our own thoughts and beliefs.

      I agree with you that responsibility does not have to be the excuse. It doesn’t mean that we can have the life we could have had sans kids, etc. But it does mean that we can still reach out for the life that will fulfill us.

      Have you experienced obstacles like this (maybe not marriage and kids, but something else)? How did you face those obstacles? What do you think is the best way? Is there a key or some insight you’ve learned that has helped you along the way? Did you make any specific choices that you look back and realize drastically affected your outcomes?

      • Hi Steve
        As far as traditional life choices getting in the way of what I want to do, that has not been an issue for me. For me, one of the biggest choices that has affected the course of my life is the decision not to have children, which is something I gave a lot of thought to. I think that decision alters your life in a way that no other decision does and whatever path you choose will undoubtedly make a huge impact on every other decision you make. My obstacles have mainly been of my own mind, such as rooting out limiting beliefs and at times, indecision. One of the most important things I have learned in this little journey of life is that you need to take the time to get to know yourself — the better you do, the more sure you are about what you want in life and things like excuses and other obstacles do not get in the way because you have clarity.

        • Steve

          Fascinating. My partner and I have debated children. I know we’d be amazing parents….And I’m sure that it would fill our lives with lots of joy, but you’re right. It does affect all other areas of life. Right now we have a freedom that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

          I can really relate to your obstacles of indecision especially. I used to be afraid of making decisions because I was so afraid I would make the “wrong” one or that once I made a decision I would get stuck on that path.

          The lesson you highlight…about getting to know yourself is paramount, in my estimation. I had to really reconnect to myself and learn what my real desires and dreams were. I’d spent so long living in someone else’s shadow, it was scary.

          The second biggest challenge for me after I started reconnecting to the “real” me was learning to trust my own intuition. Did you face that uncertainty as you started to learn more about yourself? I really sense that you have a clear sense of yourself now and that you really have a strong faith in your intuition. How did you build that up? Was it just by practicing and trusting little by little?

          • Hi Steve
            The children thing kinds of fascinates me because it is so life-altering, yet so many give it such little thought. I imagine that is largely due to conditioning that it is just what you do, a fear of regret for not partaking in one of life’s major experiences and the fear of people thinking you are selfish. I think there are lots of great things about having children but what I want out of life, my temperament and my lack of desire lead me to believe having children anyway on the gamble I will magically transform is too big a risk for me. On the deepest level, that path just does not feel right. If past lives hold truth, maybe I have done the mom thing already and this go round is not meant to be spent raising a family! I do not think that path is for everyone and I think the common spouting that everyone who has children will think it is the best thing they have ever done is very, very false. You seem like you have it together so whatever you and your partner end up deciding, I am sure it will be the right choice for you.

            Trusting our intuition is tricky and as much proof as I have gained from doing it, I still let my ego and logical thinking get in the way. Generally though I have always been good at utilizing it. I have always been someone to do things based on feeling rather than thinking. If it feels right or good, that is all I need to know. I will work out the details later. Meditation helps greatly with this because it helps you quiet your mind and you can tune in better to that initial impression that we can easily miss when we are in that usual mode where thoughts are raging through our mind like a river.

            It is definitely something you can practice. Anytime you get some sort of nudge that just pops up without any conscious thought, act on it, no matter how small of a thing it may seem, something like deciding to walk down a certain street for no reason. Sometimes it will lead to nothing, but often times you will find deciding to do whatever you were prompted to do produces some sort of good result that serves you in some way. This type of stuff will give you the confidence to follow it with bigger things.

            • Hey Kelli and Steve,

              Fascinating discussion. Wanted to chime in on the no kids thingy. I also don’t want kids. I love kids (strange that I always feel like I have to say that…), I just don’t want any. I never have.

              People don’t tend to understand that. In my world, they do, because I only attract awesome people now, he, he. I watched Grey’s Anatomy the other day and one of the characters doesn’t want kids. Just doesn’t want them. And her husband CANNOT understand it. The assumption is that there must be something wrong with her, that she must be damaged or wounded to not want kids. I sat there, mouth open, stunned by this reaction. To me, he was the stunted one for not being able to even consider the possibility that a human being might just not want kids and this is a perfectly valid point of view. It’s not a choice – people don’t choose to want kids. They choose to have them, but they don’t choose to want them. I often tried to want them, because I thought it was weird not to. I’m great with it now, but I struggled with it…

              Sorry to run off on a tangent there. 🙂

              Steve, loving the new style more an more. Bullshit in the title, cursing and in your face honesty. Love it!!! 🙂

              Huge hugs,
              Melody

              • Hi Melody
                I suspected that you were in my camp. Do not know why, just had a feeling. The disclaimer of not hating kids is funny right? It is understandable though because people do assume you do not like children. I like them too for the most part, but I will admit I do get agitated by them quite easily if they are not behaving. The LOA thing is fascinating to me because I notice that I really do not face much resistance personally when I discuss the matter. Having seen the experiences, or read, actually, many talk about all the problems they face but based on the things they post in forums, blogs and what not, they seem to have a lot of negative energy around the issue, such as bashing parents all the time, getting overly annoyed at people’s general opinions of this choice,etc… and it has kind of illustrated to me that the energy we hold around something definitely seems to influence our interactions with others.

                I think the struggle with it is natural because voluntarily not choosing parenthood is still not a very common decision and I think there is a lot of pumping up of the experience that makes us feel like we are making some grave mistake. But, like many things in life, it is not for everyone so if it does not feel right to me, I cannot imagine doing it, given the massive changes it produces in our lives. To me, I see it as just a choice I made and not some major aspect of my identity. I think too many people identify too strongly with it and that is what causes the bulk of their problems. People are going to judge and make assumptions no matter what, we just have to learn not to care. Making it a mission to defend ourselves and disprove unfair stereotypes will create a lot of negativity I think.

                • Steve

                  The point about people identifying themselves with parenthood is really a great one, Kelli. Really glad you brought this up too. I have seen people who become so absorbed in the lives of their children that they lose themselves (as some people do in their primary relationships as well). Then, once the child has grown or goes to college, the parent has a melt-down.

                  I just watched a documentary on the life of US President Harry Truman. His wife was a lady named Bess. As a teenager her father committed suicide (which was frowned upon and judged harshly by society). They tried to hide this fact all her life. Bess’ mother, in her grief, insisted that Bess attend her. Bess essentially ended up being the child-parent for her mother for the rest of her mother’s life. Even after her husband became president, they still lived in her mother’s house in Missouri. Really fascinating sub-plot to one of histories famous stories.

                  All that to say when any person becomes so absorbed in another that she loses herself, it’s really dysfunctional and sad.

              • Steve

                So glad you did chime in, my friend! 🙂 This is just the type of conversation I’m hoping to continue fostering on my site! 🙂

                It’s strange why we do things. Sadly, kids sometimes end up being on the bad end of dysfunctional parenting! 🙁 My brother has a friend who had a child. The sad thing is that both parents are self-centered and egotistical. They both have very demanding careers and enjoy their toys. The child became a temporary “new shiny” object. Once the novelty wore off, they dumped her in daycare 12+ hours and with baby sitters on the weekend so they could have “me” time.

                My brother’s wife watched the baby until it became a problem. Eventually it ended up fracturing the friendship because my sister-in-law refused to stay quiet about what they were doing to their child.

                It’s really sad how this can happen.

                Anyway…that’s my tangent, to add to yours! 🙂

                Thanks for all the wonderful feedback. I am just working on not censoring as much. Of course, I don’t want my place to become full of vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake, but for effect, it works! 🙂

            • Steve

              I think you’re absolutely right. I am confident that if the timing is right for us, then we’ll know it in our gut. Until it really changes, we’re not going to just have children just to do it.

              I’m the same as you with trusting intuition. You’d think I’d be an expert, but I still doubt myself. Like you, it’s usually the ego jumping in and trying to scare the crap outta me! 🙂

              I love the tips you’ve given. I’m going to take some of those and try to apply them. Especially the part about doing what feels good. I grew up in an environment that was very suspicious of anything that felt “too” good. But good feelings often lead us down the path of less emotional and spiritual resistance…which leads to greater happiness and clarity (in my experience).

              It’s following the little nudges that helps build confidence then for you? I’d probably have to say that’s pretty close to my own experience as well. Great discussion. Thanks for all the awesome insights you’ve shared. SO helpful!

              Hope the rest of your weekend is AWESOME!

  • I applaud your frankness here, Steve. It’s absolutely what I needed to hear today. Now the challenge is to allow the truth of this translate into action. I struggle more with excuses of lack. The solution is still the same:reflection then action! I simply feel that I know too much to settle for an average life. You know that I’m an artist — a designer. I read recently that “all of design is an unwillingness to accept the status quo.” My challenge is to “design” the next season of my life, to be more affirming, more fruitful and more impacting than the this season. Thanks for the guidance, sir.

    • Steve

      I can totally relate, Garrett. I, too, made excuses of lack especially when my business didn’t take off like I wanted. I pushed through and got the book published, but then I didn’t have the marketing experience to launch it correctly. I said things like, “Well, I don’t have a good enough platform built.”

      Then a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to begin the hiring process at a company here for a really good job. Woulda paid probably 60-70K. I went through the gruelling first 3 hours of interview process. They said that they’d have me back for follow up interviews. I was prepared to take it just because it was good money.

      Then they called to say they’d gone forward with other candidates. Jason told me “You would have been miserable. You won’t be happy if you’re not working for yourself.” He was right. I’ve decided no more excuses. I’m going to make a business out of what I want my life to look like. I’m going to figure out how this works. I don’t want to get to the end and see that it was all haphazard and that I ended up living according to someone else’s expectations. It’s scary as heck, but it’s already worth it. And I’m finding my waters run deeper than I thought they did.

      Be careful with that “reflection then action” process. I don’t know about you, but I tend to get stuck with lots of reflection and relatively little action.

      You said your next step is to design the next season of your life. What do you want that to be? What is it that you believe is keeping you from achieving that? What keeps you from putting up a website and selling your art direct to the consumer? Just curious. I think you have so much to offer, I would love to see you overcome the obstacles that are holding you back.

  • Love this Steve……especially that excuses allow you to hide……..I listen to my mind conjure up so many excuses……and I laugh when I become aware of them……..at least now they help me to laugh instead of hide :).
    thx for sharing!

    • Steve

      That’s awesome, Gina. It is amazing how humorous some of the shit our minds come up with can be once we’re conscious of it. What a relief when I realize that I don’t have to take ego-me so seriously! 🙂

  • You win the title of best headline! It told me I had to at least come check out this post.

    • Steve

      Haha…THanks, Lonnie! Glad that one connected! 🙂 Appreciate you stopping over.

  • I love the timing of this theme of excuses!!! It is a perfect time for honest self-reflection as I push forward to my destiny and call myself out on what things I allow to keep me in a ‘safe’ existence. It is in line with my motto for this year- NEW LEVELS IN 2012!!!! And I really dig your edgier tone- playtime is over!!! Our dreams call for goin’ hard or goin’ home!!!!

    • Steve

      Thanks, Buddy! I noticed it was popping up around the blogosphere as a theme. All my articles and the podcast were created before I noticed it, but I guess it’s some cosmic theme that needed to be brought out!

      Love your motto. May borrow it! NEW LEVELS in 2012! Absolutely! Glad the edgier tone isn’t off-putting. I’ve struggled with being more authentic without being vulgar. I want to speak in my own voice as I go forward, though. Otherwise, there’s no real credibility.

  • I feel like I have made far too many excuses in my life. I used to always make excuses for other people because I hoped that things would change. The truth is that my excuses were just what they needed so that they would not have to change. An excuse in some cases can be just what was needed in order for a person to keep doing what they were doing.
    I have a cousin and he is not doing very good. He is about to turn 21 with no car, no job, and is still living with his parents. His parents have always made excuses for him and that is why he cannot change his life. He is used to people making excuses for him and when there is no one to do that, then he is left “up a creek without a paddle.” On the other hand, I had a father that never made excuses for me and whatever excuse I came up with never seemed to work. I was not thankful for that when I was young and in fact, I hated it. Now that I am older, I could not be more happy that my dad did not make excusses for me because it made me stronger.

    Do you make excuses for yourself? Have you ever lost money to someone telling you that they could make your blogging dreams come true?

    I wish you the best!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • Steve

      I’ve been there, too, William. Especially in my relationships I have excused bad behavior because I thought that things would change. It was actually just naive. You make a good point. As long as I’m creating excuses, the other person doesn’t need to change.

      I’m glad you had the guidance you did growing up even if you didn’t like it at that time.

      I make excuses about what I am (or am not) able to accomplish. Usually it’s about self-doubt…which is horribly insidious. I have not specifically lost money due to someone telling me they could make my blogging dreams come true. I think a lot of people do get taken advantage of online because it is so easy to hope that some “magic” process or “guru” will save us. But that’s not how it works.

      This coming week, I’m thinking about posting an article about us becoming the hero of our own story. It’s absolutely necessary to reach the success that we desire.

      Have you struggled in this regard? How have you overcome your doubts to be a “hero” in your own life? What do you think is the chief quality that has lead to success for you?

      Thanks so much for the awesome comment and kind comment.

  • This is interesting.. where you say excuses allow us to hide, I realize the excuses *themselves* are masks.. usually hiding the resident fear that sits behind them. “If I ditch or postpone this obligation for this other more enticing thing, my spouse will hate me forever.” Which is fear speaking.

    • Steve

      Hi, Sara. You’re right. Our fears have powerful voices and a variety of “masks” they wear. Sometimes it’s easy to be fooled into believing them because we do not recognize who it is that’s really talking. How do you help “mute” the voice of fear in your life? What are the tools you have found effective for helping to silence the excuses?

      • This is a work in progress. I find if I open my mouth to make an excuse *to another person*, the feeling of how I’m holding my body reminds me how inauthentic I’m being and I stop in my tracks. However, I don’t alway catch my internal-excuse-making.. a lot of those excuses I totally believe, unquestioning, unless someone outside myself points it out.

        • Steve

          That’s a really interesting point, Sara…the distinction about how you feel holding your body if you’re making an excuse and voicing it aloud. I think the point you make about the internal excuse-making is what so many of us face. Do you have certain ways you recognize when you’re doing this? Do you have a method for catching yourself?

          For me, it’s generally a feeling that kinda creeps through me. However, I am curious if you have been able to identify certain themes when you’re making excuses or if you have some practical tips you have uncovered.

  • WOW, the conversation that is going on after the post is amazing.
    The excuses. I can’t tell you how many times i believed my own excuses. It’s a powerful thing. I was really lucky because i was swallowed by societal pressures and believed all the excuses because they kept me on the track of living the life i thought i was supposed to live rather than the life i wanted to live. It wasn’t until i was laid off from my job where i felt like it was the way out. Had i not been laid off i think i would have eventuallyl stopped making excuses, but it would have taken me longer to get to where i was going to. It’s a common thread though. people are so comfortable in their lives but not happy. It takes something almost life changing to be the catalyst for change and to stop making excuses.

    Thank for this post. It really helps clarify my own life choices and i am sure it will help many others “who are ready” for change.

    • Steve

      I know, Anne! Isn’t it wonderful. As a writer, you never know what will spark a great conversation. The conversation is my favorite part of the post. The writing is just the launching pad.

      Wow, what a great “opportunity” being laid off happened to be for you. And what a blessing that you had the eyes to see the opportunity. Sometimes it takes us with our “backs against the wall” to push us toward the life we are meant to live.

      Comfort with unhappiness…what a sad situation. I SO appreciate you stopping by the blog and for your kind comments.

      If you have a minute would you share something with me? I’m wondering how you have stayed on the “no excuses” path after you experienced that potentially traumatic layoff? It could have sent you into a debilitating paralysis. How did you keep yourself moving forward in that time of uncertainty? I think a lot of people are in that place and could benefit from your perspective.

  • Hello Steve,
    I would love to share how i turned an otherwise traumatic experience into a positive one (getting laid off). I could write a book, but i’ll keep it short. I lived in Silicon Valley, land of the DOT BOMBS where getting laid off was as natural as breathing. It happens and you move on. My last lay off in 2007 was my 4th layoff. The first time i was layed off, i cried and shook and almost died. I was a single mom at the time, struggling to make ends meet with no child support from my first husband. I pulled through it and it made me stronger. that first lay off made me see that i could pull through it all and i swore i was going to be successfull and never feel worried about money again. By the time i was laid off that last time, i was pretty successfully and had reached my financial goals, i wasn’t worried so much about money anymore. I think having worked for over a 10 years to reach that poing and fulfilling my basic needs was probably the key. I wasn’t rich, but i had enough. If you’ve ever read about Maslov’s pyramid than you will understand that we all go through phases and until those phases are met you can’t or won’t move onto the next level. In 2007, i was ready. Granted, many of my friends still stayed on the path of the corporate world after getting laid off, i was one of the few along with my husband who decided to take a different path. So here i am, living my dream of living in France and everyone tells me “oh you are so lucky, you must be rich, i wish i could do it”. To that i tell them, it’s been a lot of work and a long road and “NO I”M NOT RICH” lol, i shop at thrift stores because i save my money for experiences with my family and friends not on bmw’s and diamonds.
    And that’s it. Long winded i know. But you asked. 🙂

    • Steve

      Yes, I did ask…and I don’t mind the “long-windedness” at all! 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time.

      The thought of one layoff is paralyzing, but 4!?! Wow. I can see what you mean about becoming stronger, though. Once you go through that experience and the terrifying repercussions and you survive, you realize how much power you really have.

      I’m so glad you were able to take the first experience and reshape your life to be better prepared and less dependent on the “survival” end of Maslow’s pyramid. It really does make all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?

      I think you made another great point, Annie. You said you worked over 10 years to get to that point of relative stability where you could choose a different life path. Alot of us (myself once included) want our “dream life” to manifest instantly. we think if we work hard for a short time, then we should be able to live the life of our dreams.

      Yours took planning, hard work (more than ten years), and continued sacrificial decisions to make it all come together. These are great lessons for us all. Thank you for sharing this.

      It’s amazing, though, what is possible. If you tell someone, “I live my dream life in France,” they may say “I wish I could do that” but they don’t realize all the work in the background that it has taken to get to that place.

      This is something I’m learning. My goal is to create a business that is mobile and in which I can help people and really make a difference in people’s lives. This is a lofty goal because of the internet “superstars” that we see out here in the blogging world doing it. Everyone wants the flashy “travel-around-the-world and create-an-e-book-once-every-so-often” life but few are willing to take the time and effort to build a truly stable and sustainable business.

      Your story has inspired me. If you don’t mind another probing question…How long did you plan until you were able to move to another country? How long did it take you to prepare professionally and personally? When did you know it was the right time to make the move? Did you get negative feedback from any of your friends and family?

  • Hello Steve,
    Well, i got the idea to “DO IT” In February of 2011, we applied for visas in August of 2011 and were approved september 25th. October 5th, i was in France with my family .

    Professionally, it’s been something i’ve always wanted to do so i was ready. i didn’t have a job remember. I just bought a domain name installed wordpress and trusted that i needed to play around with it to find my groove . Is that what you mean? Our adventure started the year before when we left our home in Califarnia. We had to sell our crap, put some stuff in storage. That took a few months. So i think realistically, someone could do it within 11 months if they knew what they were doing and had the time to devote to it. I’m working on an online workshop to help people do just that. It’s actually very daunting but it can be easier with the right mentor and guidance.

    I didn’t get too much negative feedaback from friends and family directly but i did get family that said what if i just “do this” or “do that” instead. One idea was to take a job i hated. Another wsa to try to rebuild my life the way it was.
    No way, i knew by coming to France, it would give me a sense of urgency to accomplish my dream of self employment while at the same time enjoying another culture.

    • Steve

      That’s such an exciting story, Annie. I’m so proud of your for going for it. It’s an inspiration for all of us.

      I’ll be excited to hear more about your workshop. What process, specifically, are you going to be teaching people to do? Relocate? Follow their dream? I do agree with you. Guidance and mentorship are everything when it comes to taking big steps.

      It’s funny the suggestions your family/friends offered…go back to status quo or accept miserable stability. Glad you chose differently. I’m sure if they all were honest, many of your loved ones are a bit jealous that you’ve taken such a cool step…even if they’re thinking inside, “I could never do that!”

      Cheers!

  • I think what you said hits it on the head “Excuses allow you to hide.”

    Absolutely.

    We use excuses because we aren’t man enough/woman enough/mature enough/ don’t have the balls to fess up and say the truth.

    Excuses are scapegoats — but more than that they are quick answers. Most of us make excuses not (JUST) because we are afraid, but because they are instinctual. We like to make life smoother by avoiding the tough issues. Instead of pausing for 3 seconds and saying “Hmm. You’re right.. I was just stressed so I walked out of the room” we go for the easy answer without thinking.

    • Steve

      That’s a powerful point, Alexander. It always comes back to bite me in the butt when I don’t deal with real issues as they arise. Often the temptation is to think that it will somehow get better. It doesn’t.

      I agree that our excuses are so conditioned that they are nearly instinctual. We think that if we avoid the issues in our way, life will be smoother. And it is, until all hell breaks loose because we didn’t deal with it the first time around.

      The example you gave is powerful. I used to facilitate marriage/realtionship workshops and this is one of the basic techniques we taught couples at the very beginning. Have a “time out” process to be able to safely and honestly pause the discussion, cool off, and come back to it.

      It helps so much…instead of making up excuses, lies or becoming passive aggressive.

  • Hi Steve, I too thank you for the post, the excuses that I use everyday in my life drive me mad but I can’t seem to change a lot of them, I want to badly though, maybe I’m just a big fat whimp. I also just wanted to say that I really admire Kelli for making her decision to not having children, it truly is a incredibly strong and important and right decision to make (in my opinion) to not have children unless you are truly going to be able to love them and give them everything that they need and I feel like too many people just have children because it is the done thing, not because they really want them. Any way sorry if that is off topic.

    • Steve

      Hi, Mary! Thanks for stopping and commenting on my post. I encourage you to challenge your assumptions. You are not a “big fat whimp”! You can change the excuses you have. You mentioned that you have a deep desire to change them. My question to you is are you willing to let go of your stories about the excuses…all of the why’s that surround the things that you think you cannot or will not accomplish?

      If you are willing to let go of your stories that you have repeated long enough to make into beliefs, then you can change your excuses as well! Let me know what you think. This post has spawned such great discussion. I would love to hear what your biggest challenge is in overcoming your excuses.

      • Hi Steve, Thank you for your reply. I suppose if I am very honest, I would have to say that I want to have the deep desire to change, but to renegotiate all those excuses, or possibly the fears that they are hiding is a very confronting experience, so whether my desire is deep or not is something i am not sure about. It seems to be a very slow process, there is only so much honesty/thinking about the subject that you can do at once.

        • Steve

          I really understand your perspective, Mary. I am the same way. I sometimes over-analyze things to the point where I feel paralyzed by the fear. And the frustrating thing is that I know it is fear! It is scary to change for sure. One thing that I have found that helps me…after I’ve thought it all through…is to have a plan. Having a process or technique to help me implement the change that I want to achieve is especially helpful. Perhaps you can break down the changes you want to make this way so that they are less overwhelming.

  • Steve, thanks for sharing. This is so true. Many times excuses come in the form of what my mother always called “white lies”. She explained them as just little lies that won’t harm anyone. In other words, white lies are excuses. They get you out of things you don’t want to do, but at what cost? People end up finding you unreliable and flaky when you make too many excuses. Sometimes you do have a legitimate reason for not doing something but, it is important to realize when you are making an excuse for selfish reasons. If you don’t want to keep commitments, don’t keep them in the first place.

    • Steve

      Hi, Joseph!

      It is a fascinating discussion you’ve started. This idea of “white lies” and the belief (that many of us have) that they don’t do any harm. They may not harm us, but they harm our integrity…with ourselves first–and then with others. This is the most damaging thing.

      I think you’re right. Often, honesty is the “best policy”. It’s hard to be honest and say, “No, I’m sorry I can’t (or don’t want to) do that” but it’s better than making up stories or saying “sure” and then backing out. I agree with you there!