How To Stop Making Excuses

Self-awareness creates opportunity and action procures its possibilities.

First of all, people who make excuses are NOT bad people.

People who make excuses are in pain.

Cognitive dissonance is a popular topic in psychology. It is defined as "the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change."

When we make excuses, we know we aren't living the way we want to live... so we come up with a reason (excuse) as to why it's okay.

Think about that for just a moment: to know you want to live a certain way, but won't (or can't) figure out how to do it. Ouch.

To reduce the pain of dissonance, people will, according to Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, do one of these four things listed below:

  • Rationalize away the behavior (e.g., It doesn't matter what I do, it's just a drop in the bucket")

  • Deny responsibility for our behavior (e.g., It's not my role to do this")

  • Distract ourselves from the dissonance itself (e.g., "I've got other things to think about right now), and, finally (and only under the highest levels of distress/dissonance)

  • Change our behavior (e.g., "I will take the time right now to address this issue")

According to Dr. Pychyl, rationalization is the easiest action to do. Denial is the second easiest. Distraction is a bit more challenging. Changing our behavior is the hardest modality to accomplish.

Until it isn't.

Ownership of your issues flips the paradigm. Is this "easy"? No.

Can you train yourself to point the finger at yourself first and go, immediately, to creating the actions that truly minimize or negate the cognitive dissonance you feel? Absolutely!

When feeling the effects of cognitive dissonance (e.g. "This isn't 'right'."), the question you should ask yourself first is simple: "What could I have done differently here?"

Maybe it doesn't matter what you do. Maybe it isn't your "role". Maybe you do have other things to think about right now. And, maybe, the way you've gone about everything up to this point is making things worse instead of better and you can change what you're doing.

Start with your behavior change first.

Experiment. Be kind; to yourself and to others. Listen. Practice forgiveness, gratitude and empathy. Give the benefit of the doubt. Go first. Apologize when necessary. Admit when you were wrong when necessary.

Own it and grow!

Will you? That's up to you.

But we ask you to consider one more thing... have your excuses ever made you truly happy?

Ownership creates self-confidence and self-respect; and this extends into the world around you.

Do your excuses?

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