First we need to understand the role excuses play in our psychology. Excuses are a defense mechanism that are meant to protect our self-esteem and self-confidence. By giving an excuse for something, we deflect responsibility and don’t internalize the criticism, so that we can separate ourselves from the failures or shortcomings in the result.
But there’s an expression I love that sheds some light on the truth - “Excuses are like buttholes, everyone’s got one and they all stink!”
The problem with making excuses is that by not taking the necessary responsibility, you don’t put yourself in a position to grow. Where is the lesson without the pain? When you justify why you didn’t meet expectations by making excuses, you are doing yourself a disservice that prevents you from developing in a way that will allow you to meet expectations next time.
To share a quick example of this in practice, a few weeks ago we had a family photo shoot and allowed a photographer in the backyard. We have been extremely careful to take precautions and not expose ourselves to others who might have COVID. There were times when he touched furniture and things we’d prefer he didn’t touch, and he unmasked a few times out of comfort. Instead of making an excuse and saying “Oh it happened so fast, it was out of my control”, in reflection I recognize that I could have communicated to him sooner that we wanted him to follow strict quarantine protocols. Had I done so we could have avoided the situation and now I know how to act moving forward.
So I encourage you, lose your excuses. Take full responsibility, full ownership for the events in your life. Instead of making a comfortable excuse, try reflecting on the decisions you made that led to that result. You’ll find a lot more is in your control than you realized, which is great because then you know what you can change for next time!