Excuses, excuses!

Throughout life I have been the queen of excuses. Why I did something, why I didn’t do something, why I want to do something, why I don’t, why I can’t do something….the list is endless!

Sometimes I had been known to tell a tall tale or two in order to make my excuse seem more validated. I in turn wanted valid excuses as to why people may or may not be able to do things with, or for, me.

As I spent more time getting to know and accepting myself and living more for me than anyone else, I found myself not giving excuses if I couldn’t do something. So, if friends wanted to meet up, I would just say “I can’ make it” instead of a long tirade of excuses as to why I wasn’t able to join. This not only made me value and audit my time better, it made the mutual respect between friends more substantial. I would see people I enjoyed seeing (and even those I didn’t enjoy so much) when I chose to without a reason like;

‘I haven’t seen them in so long I really should make the effort’

to instead asking myself;

Do I have the time? I have the energy? Would I like to do this?

Obviously there came moments when I couldn’t answer yes to all three questions, and I would change them to suit the situation;

Do I have the time? Can I give energetically to this person needs? Will this fill my cup?

The first question is the most important. Do I actually have the time? Am I stretching myself thin or am I finding ways to fill my time to avoid doing something else?

Can I give energetically to this person’s needs? Different people require different levels of our energy. Some can give and receive positive, negative, and neutral energy relatively equally. Others can require a lot of energy from us, if I’m seeing a person of the latter description, I have to ask myself if I actually have the reserves to give them what they need. If I don’t, then I will be giving but may also hold resentment for the fact I feel completely depleted after seeing them, so for them and me I need to know I have the energy to give whatever they may require energetically to them.

Will this fill my cup? When it comes to energy vampires, it can be easy to feel like you don’t have the energy reserves for these types of people. No one likes being drained of energy, but hopefully you are at a point where any relationships with energy vampires are on your terms and most, if not all, actually toxic people, are in fact banished from your life. Leaving you with the select few energy vampires that whilst draining from your resources, give back to you in different ways, thereby filling your cup too. This could be the negative Nancy of your friendship group, or the Debbie Downer of your family that whilst taking from your positive energy cup, the sense of fulfilment you receive in return for your wise guidance and empathetic ear makes you feel respected and valued – filling your motivational and inspirational inner cup, restoring the equilibrium.

When I gave up the habit of finding excuses, it was actually much easier and less stressful to make plans and even to not do things I didn’t want to. I had gotten so into the habit of making excuses that I would lose track of what excuse I gave last and if too much time had elapsed to still use it.

No one has rights to my time except me (and my children of course). When I realised that, I became more protective over it. No one has rights to know what I am doing. If I can’t join for a meal because I am actually washing my hair, then that’s good enough for me. I realised the more I used excuses, the more people had to comment over how I spent my time. People began to feel they had a right to judge or discuss how I utilised my time; “you’ve seen a lot of that person recently, are they ok?” The more I gave, the more they wanted. If I was seeing a family member, that family members life then came under scrutiny. If I stayed at home more with my husband, we must have been having marital problems. Assumptions would be rife! So I began just saying I couldn’t join.

At first it was hard for some people to understand the concept of me not apologising and following it with an endless list of reasons. It was also hard not hearing the reason people cancelled on me…then…I began to understand the reason we make excuses when telling someone we can’t do something is because we want them to feel loved. We don’t want them to think we don’t value their time and energy. We want them to think the only reason we wouldn’t want to spend time with them is if our sister’s hamster had died and we need to support her grief, but what I have realised more now after saying no to excuses for a number of years, is that it is hard to make someone who feels unloved loved, regardless of the excuse. In fact we end up making them feel guilty if they still feel disappointed that you chose to put anything before them.

Make No Excuses

I cannot stand excuses anymore! If you can’t make something, I’d much rather you say “I can’t do that day, how about next week.” I have a hard time managing my own calendar, let alone having to plan around all my friends and family’s too. It is not my business to know what someone chooses to do in their free time.  Let me know the days you can do and I will say which suits my diary best.

Since I have lived this way, I actually get insulted when a friend gives me a tirade of excuses as to why they couldn’t see me when they planned to, usually because it’s not authentic! I smell BS and I hate it! I get a long list of excuses, usually ones they used months ago that couldn’t possibly have happened again (how many times can a family pet pass away?) or it leads me to make assumptions about their life, another thing I don’t like doing, yet it seems to trigger in me (How many nights has your husband worked late? That can’t be making my friend happy, leading me to worry about their emotional wellbeing) when usually they aren’t even being honest with me. It’s always the same people too! I much prefer a message saying, “sorry I couldn’t make it, something came up”. I don’t need to know what, and the people with the list of excuses, generally try to pull on heart strings in order to avoid being called on their flakiness! How can you challenge someone’s commitment to your friendship who is having marital problems, or has lost their dog for the umpteenth time?

Excuses to use Excuses;

There are exceptions to No Excuse policy. If I have committed to something and have had to change plans last minute, I personally think it is courteous to let them know something derailed my plans, two further rules to this are;

1. Do not lie – If you have had something come up that requires you prioritise another over your original commitment then let them know, but if you simply don’t want to do it anymore, you should be honest. If you feel the need to lie to ‘get out’ of doing something, you shouldn’t have made the commitment in the first place.

2. Don’t overcompensate.

Just because you are bending your own rules around excuse giving, you shouldn’t completely give up your rights to your time and how you spend it. If there is genuine cause for your changing or cancelling plans, you don’t need to give a complete dialogue of your priorities. Less is more and I believe if someone I trust has changed plans, I don’t need to know the reason why, but understand their desire to make me understand their reasoning. Keep it short and simple so they understand why you have had to prioritise something unexpectedly.

Life gets manic and plans get changed all the time, but I have found I live a much more authentic life if I don’t feel the need to give excuses and don’t expect them in return. We all do it, but if you can catch yourself when you are about to make an excuse for your time being precious, first ask yourself why you are looking for a reason to let that person down. If it is to spare their feelings, give them a little more credit, I have learnt people are more than happy to arrange a mutually convenient time without the need to know you have to de-nit your children or have a smear test appointment. If I begin to want to know why someone isn’t making plans with me, I look deeper into the friendship, have I actually been a bit too clingy? Or am I jealous of a new friendship they may have made? If so I acknowledge my own feelings or actions and deal with that instead, or I open up to them about how I am feeling and see if they understand.

2023-04-02T13:35:30+00:00

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