“And the dangerous thing about excuses is that if we recite them enough times, we actually come to believe they are true.”
“There are moments when one can neither think nor feel, she thought, and if one can neither feel nor think, where’s one?”
Making excuses is natural.
Sometime big excuses and sometimes the little shrug of shoulders type excuses.
And, regardless of the shape & size of the excuse, we all hate it afterwards <at least those people who accept responsibility>.
I sometimes think of excuses like I do the slippery slope of mediocrity.
What do I mean?
Once you step on to the excuse slope it is a slippery one. It is tough to get off.
And while most of us make an excuse with good intentions of ‘just this once’ … excuses are quite tasty in the mouth once we have tasted one that worked.
Maybe I didn’t get that right.
Maybe what makes excuses so horrible is that the more time you chew on one the less taste is has … getting to a point where you taste nothing, think nothing of it and feel nothing.
What that means is you start popping them like breath fresheners.
All the while … in your mind you are taking personal responsibility but in reality … over time … the common theme in your Life becomes something outside of your control is always being blamed.
I actually did some research on this and … well … you can go back several thousand years to get some insight. It was Aristotle who identified the seven reasons people do things <4 are voluntary, and have moral implications, and 3 of them are involuntary, and do not>.
‘Thus every action must be due to one or other of seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reasoning, anger, or appetite.’
Aristotle further state that all actions are due either to emotion or reason and either seek pleasure or act to reduce pain as compulsion for our actions. Our “excuse muscle” fits right into this decision framework.
That said … while you may not be able to control circumstances and control what other people do, or not do, … and you may claim you actually have no control over your own actions <which I would suggest you believe as a last resort> you have control over something big — you can certainly control your attitude.
And that is where excuses have gone a little off the rails.
The thing about excuses in today’s world is how we have this nasty tendency to mitigate the excuses themselves <not just our actions>.
In the past we all pretty much knew that we should assume personal responsibility for our actions and results of our actions <or non-actions> and we battled against the recognition that much of what happens is based on extenuating circumstances and things beyond our control. That is reality. We see it, understand it … and yet suck it up and say we are responsible.
We apologize. we move on and try the best we can to say it will not happen again … sometimes even promising <albeit knowing that promising some shit is silly because … well … the reality truly is that we are the victim of shitload of circumstances we have no control over>.
We assume responsibility because that is what the honorable thing to do is and you just do the best you can moving forward.
But today? Today the excuse part of our brains seem to be dipping into a different segment of ‘mitigating circumstances’ – addiction, childhood, physical urges that cannot be controlled and crap like that.
Our excuses get tinged with an aspect of ‘things we just cannot control’ versus ‘things out of my control.’
This is bad.
It permits me to circle back to both of my opening quotes.
If you say this excuses enough it becomes reality … whether it is reality or not.
If it becomes reality to you then it makes it extremely difficult for someone on the outside to point out that it is not reality.
And finally … this means you really do not think or feel anything because you have ‘excused yourself’ into a place in which you have no responsibility for not only what you did … but how you may truly feel and think about it.
The ‘you’ who did whatever is not the real ‘you’ who would have wanted to do something else if permitted.
The mind then warps Aristotle’s thoughts into a universe in which there are no real rational choices. In this universe almost anything can be excused as a ‘non rational choice’ because … well … it is driven by some subconscious irrational ‘thing’ inside you.
This also puts people in a really dangerous spot. Dangerous in that you can also attribute ‘rational thought’ to only the good things and not the bad things.
We all make excuses. It is unfortunate attribute of humanness.
We all live in an ‘excuse enabled world” … one in which so much shit is out of our control that there is a readymade excuse within reach at any time – and many of these excuses are truly viable ones.
But that said … we all need to stay off the slippery excuse slope and purposefully, rationally, accept responsibility if not all the time … 99% of the time.
And we need to hold people accountable for their actions and not accept excuses.
That last part, other people, can be tough in today’s world because that demands you discern between a real rational excuse <real addiction, real psychological challenges, etc.> and … well … a made up excuse.
The past “did something wrong or not right” – “assume responsibility” – apologize <unequivocally> – “promise to do better/not do again” formula doesn’t really seem to be used as often today. And it should.
We use too many excuses — even the valid ones.
In the end.
Why does it matter?
If we completely abandon this formula we may not only start believing our excuses, the real and non-real, but worse … and if one can neither feel nor think, where’s one?”