If you keep catching yourself making excuses, and you want to change, you need to know how to identify excuses early on so you can stop relying on them. These two traits can help you tell the difference between a legitimate reason and a lazy excuse. Photo by Charly Meunier.
According to Susan David, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, there are two major red flags you have to watch for every time you think you are about to make an excuse. Stephanie Vozza at Fast Company breaks them both down:
- Your excuse sounds like an old story. "If you've told yourself something along those lines before, and it feels like you're not objectively looking at the situation," David says.
- Your excuse is surrounded by emotions of anxiety, fear, or anger. "Emotions are difficult and an excuse gives you relief," says David. "It allows you to put aside a move to discomfort. It keeps you safe, but it doesn't allow you to grow or move toward value."
Reasons change based on each scenario, but excuses are prone to repetition. For example, if you're always backing out of commitments because you're "tired", that's an excuse. Excuses also make you feel better by masking your true feelings toward things. Using the same example, you might back out of commitments because you're actually anxious about social encounters, and you don't want to confront that. Until you identify your own excuses, however, you can't start working on things that will change you for the better. So ask yourself, "How often have I said this?"
What You Can Learn From The Excuses You Tell Yourself [Fast Company]