by Dr. Robert Kornfeld
Have you ever found yourself making an excuse for not getting something done? For not doing what you said you were going to do? For inadvertently letting yourself or someone else down? For an unintentional lack of integrity? Of course you have. We all have. Sometimes, we just feel so bad about something sub-consciously, that we feel the need to hide our disappointment with ourselves from others. Do we think making excuses helps us save face? Do we think it gives us another chance to succeed? Do we believe the excuse will be believed and we won’t be seen in a negative light? Or is it that we are so used to not pushing ourselves past our own comfort zone that we have become masters of excuse making?
In reality, it is probably all of the above at one time or another. Making excuses not only makes us look bad, unreliable or untrustworthy, it imprints on our sub-conscious and interferes with success mentality. If you’re quicker with excuses than you are at looking at the reasons you are making excuses, you will continue to make excuses. Recognize any of these excuses?: “my dog ate my homework”, “my car broke down”, “my alarm didn’t go off”, “my phone went dead and I didn’t see my calendar”, “there was a ton of traffic”, “when I got there, the store was closed”, “my computer went dead before I saved the document”, “I was so busy I didn’t have time to do it”, “I wanted to stay on my diet but I got really stressed out”, “you never told me” and the list goes on. Excuses do not serve us in any positive way. Of course, I am NOT saying that there are never valid excuses, but you know what I mean here.
When I listen to someone making a futile attempt at an excuse, I see a person who is unwilling to take responsibility. That is a very childish act. If you want to be respected and trusted as the adult that you are, stop making excuses. Tell the truth. If you do, you may gain insight into what makes you tick. Can you ever imagine telling someone, “I know I told you I would do it but I’m basically a very lazy person and I didn’t do it”? In many instances, this would be the absolute truth. But this is the kind of truth telling that may get us into more trouble. There is a way to be honest without coming off like a complete narcissistic, needy child. What if you said, “I am working on this issue of getting things done in a timely way. It’s been a challenge for me. I’m sorry I let you down. Can I please have another chance?”. Now, you’ve told the truth (even if you haven’t started working on this issue, you just made yourself aware that you need to), you have a person who has no choice but to appreciate the truth and you have apologized which shows consciousness and sensitivity. You may well get a second chance if you don’t make a stupid excuse.
Excuse making is endemic in our society. People “pass the buck” all the time. They blame others, they back pedal, they deny, they lie, they scapegoat, they gaslight and they hide from responsibility. Is it okay to make excuses because everyone else does? Ask yourself how making an excuse impacts on your self-esteem. If you’re aware and honest, you will be able to see how making an excuse embeds shame in your psyche. Unfortunately, without intervention, shame grows. Shame stops us in our tracks. Shame makes us shy away from challenges, from being seen, from being held accountable. It causes us to avoid and fear failure because public failure is public humiliation. When you carry shame, you do not need public humiliation to make you feel humiliated. You are already doing that to yourself.
Of course, it’s an even better idea to transition to being completely trustworthy than to have to “tell the truth” because you didn’t do what you committed to. When you agree to do something, do it. There’s an old saying and it goes like this: Ask a busy man for a favor and he’ll find the time. Ask an idle man for a favor and you’ll get an excuse. Who are you?
Dr. Robert Kornfeld is a life coach and holistic podiatrist based in NYC and Long Island. He is the Founder of Change Your Story Coaching (www.changeyourstorycoaching.com) and assists people on their journey to making their dream life happen. Sign up for his email list and get all of his timely and informative articles in your inbox. Are you ready to change your story? Change your life? Contact him today. For coaching, he can be contacted at [email protected]. He also practices functional medicine for chronic foot and ankle pain at The Chronic Foot Pain Center in NYC and Port Washington, L.I. (www.drrobertkornfeld.com). For foot and ankle medical problems, he can be contacted at [email protected].