The Habit of Excusing Oneself

I am sat waiting for a friend of mine who is a hospital consultant he’s late. He’s always late and I realise,  whilst pondering this,  that he rarely makes an excuse he just apologises. Only once I waited so long that I though he wasn’t actually going to turn up. It’s not personal; he’s late for everyone. As I write, a text arrives saying that he is in the resus bay with a critically ill child, he’s not coming, he doesn’t apologise because he doesn’t need to.

This time is used to write a blog that I was planning to write later. The blog was going to be about the ups and downs of habits and the excuses we make to ourselves in order to maintain these habits. For me, I’d like to spend more time writing and learning to be a better writer, but I spend a disproportionate amount of time on other activities – there are good excuses for this.

My blogs are late this year, having been unwell; I decided to take time off. I’ve had a good rest and feel better. This isn’t an excuse; it’s a conscious decision to take time off. There is a difference. This down time was an opportunity to reflect on the difference between conscious decision-making and excuse making. The difference isn’t the lack of intention. I notice that when I set out with my intention I go looking for reasons why it can’t be done, soon a sense of inertia begins to develop and there’s a feeling of being stuck. There’s something between the intention and the action – I realise it’s usually an excuse. Sub-consciously, I’m looking for the excuse and when I notice one I hold on to it.

The upside of noticing this is that we get to make a conscious decision about whether the goals or intentions we have set for ourselves really need our attention. The ability to make conscious choices in our intentions mean that an inability to achieve our goal can be more about either the quality of our decision making or the quality of our excuse making.

Intention – Excuse + Action + Result

So I’ve started my New Year, albeit slightly late, with some new intentions. With an eye on my personal excuse regulator it’s going to be an amazing and fruitful 2015.   Happy 2015, may it be filled with intentions and cured of its excuses. It’s a cure that requires no prescription, those excuses – just let them go…

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