Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Explanations?... or Excuses?

Which of the following "explanations" have you heard (or used!) in the past few weeks?

* I need to reward myself for being so good.

* The boss hates me.

* It's been too hot (too cold, too rainy) to exercise

* Of course I have problems. I'm a middle child.

* It was the alcohol talking.

It's pretty obvious that the above "explanations" are basically excuses for avoiding responsibility. Your "inner brat" uses such excuses to justify overeating, underachievement and saying hurtful things.

Next look at the following. They almost seem like plausible explanations:

* Sorry I'm late again. There was a lot of traffic.

* I haven't had a chance to call her back. It's been crazy around here.

* I never went to college because my parents didn't encourage me.

* I didn't want to hurt your feelings.

* I can't seem to get things done because of my ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

But these, too, are still excuses, not explanations. If you examine the above statements more closely, you will find that they are not entirely explanatory, and are easily challenged. For example:

* Being chronically late is not caused by traffic; it's caused by not leaving enough time for travel.

* If a phone call is important enough, a person will almost always find the time.

* Lack of parental encouragement may have some influence on one's life, but eventually we all have choices to make about investing our time and energy.

* Most of the time people avoid confrontation not to protect someone else's feelings, but to protect their own.

* People with ADHD need to work harder to stay focused but this does not mean they cannot complete their tasks.

A true explanation shows a cause-and-effect relationship: Situation X caused Consequence Y. Excuses masquerade as explanations, but are really distortions of the truth. Excuses include following elements:

1. They usually blame other people or external circumstances -- e.g., "I hit him because he made me mad," or "You're too sensitive," or "It was just my bad luck."

2. When they blame oneself, they usually invoke a personal trait or limitation -- e.g., "I'm not good at keeping track of bills," or "You KNOW I never remember details," or "I have no self-discipline."

3. They minimize the impact of insults, breaches of trust, and harm to others -- e.g., "Everybody does it." or "Why are you so upset? It's no big deal"

4. They attempt to absolve the excuse-maker of personal responsibility.

5. They seem to make more sense after the fact, than they would have beforehand -- e.g., you might rationalize, "I deserved that pound of Godiva chocolates because I worked hard all day." But would it really make sense to say, "If I work hard today the best reward for my efforts is a pound of Godivas?"

It's very tempting to make excuses. In fact it is one of your inner brat's favorite strategies. Excuses serve to protect you from facing your own shortcomings. They also try to keep other people from noticing your limitations. Excuses are a way of saying, "I'm really a good person, but . . ."

At the same time, however, excuses are only a temporary, quick fix. You may feel better for the moment, but in the long run you are dissatisfied with yourself.

No one has ever felt uplifted by making an excuse. Facing the truth is sometimes difficult, but it gives you the opportunity to take charge, to make positive decisions and to gradually eliminate the need for excuses.

Here are some tips:

1. Face the fact that you screwed up. For minor transgressions, it's not the end of the world. For major problems, your excuse isn't going to reverse the situation anyway. Things are what they are, and you can only move forward from there.

2. Apologize. Acknowledge that it was your own fault. Keep it simple; e.g., "I'm sorry I'm late. I didn't allow enough time for traffic problems." Notice how this example starts with the word "I" in the explanation.

3. Offer to make amends; e.g., "I won't let it happen again," or "Is there some way I can make this up to you?"

4. Learn from the experience. Make a decision about how you will handle this or similar situations in the future.

5. Write down your decision and treat it as a promise to yourself. This is especially useful for excuses you make to yourself, such as when you rationalize procrastination or abandoning your exercise program.

Copyright Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. 2005. All rights reserved

Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Wildcat Canyon Press, 2004) She is also a life coach.

Visit for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.


Dallas Morning News

Why Troy Aikman thinks the Saints have a little extra motivation against the ...
Dallas Morning News
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. The Panthers won 27-22. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) ...

and more »

Find your purpose to improve exercise motivation
Shawnee News Star
Unfortunately many people have a hard time finding the energy and or time to improve their health through exercise and proper nutrition. The truth of the matter is it doesn't have to be that way, so I am going to give you some solutions! I honestly ...

and more »

Green Bay Press Gazette

Gosse: Find your rallying cry for motivation
Green Bay Press Gazette
Just as a house needs a good foundation, organizations and teams perform better with a clear vision and proper motivation. The Boy Scouts have an oath that states: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the ...

Sports Illustrated

Serena's coach concerned about motivation after US Open loss
Sports Illustrated
Serena Williams may not be ready for a return to competition after her surprise U.S. Open semifinals loss to Roberta Vinci earlier this month, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou told ESPN's Melissa Isaacson. The upset ended Williams's hopes of completing ...
Coach: Motivation may be low for Serena Williams after 'painful' lossABC News
Serena Williams News: U.S. Open Heartbreak Robbing Her Motivation To Finish ...Sports World News

all 435 news articles »

Chicago Tribune

Cubs' Javier Baez driven by memory of sister
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez shows a tattoo of his sister Noely on Sept. 24, 2015. Noely Baez, who had spina bifida, died in April. Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez shows a tattoo of his sister Noely on Sept. 24, 2015. Noely Baez, who had spina ...

and more »


Navas: Madrid rivalry is extra motivation
Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas says he will have "extra motivation" going into Sunday's crunch La Liga derbi at Atletico Madrid. In his second season at Madrid, Navas is set for his first game against cross-city neighbours Atletico, and goes into ...
Derby games have added motivation - Keylor

all 462 news articles »

Dallas Morning News

Heika: Dallas Stars using outdoor game snub as motivation rather than sign of ...
Dallas Morning News
Stars' leaders saw it differently -- they saw it as motivation. Instead of fuming that the Wild and NHL wanted the Chicago Blackhawks in that game Feb. 21 at the University of Minnesota, people like president Jim Lites and GM Jim Nill studied the why.

Motivation is one of the best medicines for paralysed patients battling to ...
Motivation is one of the best medicines for paralysed patients battling to walk on their own two feet again, suggests a new study. The research shows that encouraging patients and keeping them mentally healthy really can boost their recovery from a ...


10 things highly successful people do to stay motivated
I've also asked numerous executives from Cisco, MTV, Bank of America, VMware, Box and Optimizely what their secrets to motivation are. In addition to that, I've also read numerous books on motivation from authors like Tony Robbins to Daniel Pink. So I ...

GMA News

Ranidel wants loss to China to serve as motivation for future Gilas teams
GMA News
CHANGSHA, China - Gilas Pilipinas veteran Ranidel de Ocampo could not help but feel a sense of regret after the team bowed to host country China in the final of the FIBA Asia Championship here on Saturday night. The Tab Baldwin-coached squad was on ...

and more »

Google News


Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright LLC. All rights reserved.