Excuses are the stories that we tell ourselves and others to justify or excuse our actions and results, and they are lies!
Excuses Are Lies, and They Hold Us Back
They might be innocent, but excuses are nothing more than lies that mask the truth. Just this morning I was at basketball with my son. After “airballing” a shot he complained, “My hand made me miss. It stuck to the ball. It’s not my fault.”
I have an app on my phone that tracks my driving habits. The other day I got dinged for speeding, hard braking, and poor time of day. My brain naturally started making excuses to justify my driving habits.
The funny thing is that we think excuses somehow help us, that by justifying our actions or mistakes, we are somehow spared the pain of the truth. Instead, excuses just keep us from the discomfort of accepting responsibility.
Think about it. My son airballed a shot. Rather that fully embrace the discomfort of accepting responsibility, he tried to lesson that at discomfort, frustration/embarrassment, by making an excuse. He takes no responsibility; and therefore, never changes.
When I make excuses about my driving, I take no responsibility. Instead, I become a victim to this app. Rather than accepting responsibility identifying something different to do, and improving my driving, I just complain and make excuses.
Can We Help Our Teens Stop Making Excuses?
YES, but probably not in the way that most people would think about.
Here’s a few things that you can do to help your teen to stop making excuses:
- Become aware of your own excuses.
- Become aware of why you are making excuses.
- Are you afraid to accept responsibility?
- Are you ashamed of your mistake?
- What’s going on?
- Intentionally choose responsibility.
- Next time you want to make an excuse, instead take responsibility.
- This is hard, and takes practice.
- Teach your teen about excuses and responsibility.
- Teach them about how excuses make them a victim.
- Teach them how excuses avoid responsibility.
- Help them take responsibility and grow from it.
- Be an example of someone who does not make excuses.
- Your example will have a bigger impact then your teachings.
- YOU become the person that you want your teen to become.
Our Culture Perpetuates the Problem
It seems like in today’s culture we are always looking for a good excuse. We can’t just say “No” to a party just because we don’t want to go. Instead, it’s more socially acceptable to make up some excuse about being “too busy”. You can’t just say “No” because people won’t accept “no,” they want to hear some excuse, even if they know it’s a lie. Do we really need excuses just to soften any emotion that they have with rejection.
For some reason, we go through life looking for justifications for our actions. We see it on TV. How many shows have a boy or girl looking to breakup with their sweet heart? But, they can’t just breakup because they want to; instead, they have dig up some dirt, or get offended, or create some other excuse.
As a society we often overreact to mistakes. We hold mistakes over the offending party’s head and never let go. This overreaction to mistakes it easy to come up with excuses rather than taking responsibility.
As Always, It Starts With YOU!
We can make a difference. If your teen is constantly making excuses, be the example in their life of someone who avoids excuses and takes complete responsibility. Make an effort to improve in this area. This will help you understand how hard it really is, which will help you understand when your teen struggles in this area. Let your teen know that you are working on this. Teach them what you find and experience.
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