Excusitis: "The Nadai Shoe"

I hear the door close behind me and feel a hand on my shoulder. I put my head down and stare at the ground. “He should be here any minute,” I whisper.

My 3rd-grade teacher crouches down beside me and says, “Honey, maybe we should call your mom to come get you before it gets too dark.”

“No!” I raise my voice in frustration. “He said he was coming.”

She gives me a sympathetic look and turns away to look down the road.

“O.K.,” she begins. “We’ll give him 5 more minutes. If he’s not here by then, we’ll call your mom, O.K.?” I nod my head in agreement. I cross my fingers and begin to pray. Please come, dad. Please come.

I hear a car turning into the street. Yes! I think to myself, That’s him!

To my disappointment, my mother pulls up. “I am so sorry, Ms. Cathy,” she yells out her window. “Thank you for staying with her until I came.”

Ms. Cathy smiles at my mother and helps me into the car. I stare out the window as my mother pulls out of the school driveway. She looks at me through the rearview mirror. “I’m sorry, Bojote*. Your dad couldn’t make it. But I’m here!” She knows I’m upset that my father didn’t show up again.  

Have you ever had someone give you their word on something and not follow through? Doesn’t it make your blood boil!? I may have never met you, but I know one thing about you already: you hate it when other people make excuses for not following through on a commitment they made to you. There is so much disappointment in failed commitments, broken promises, and empty words because our expectation is that people will follow through. At least, that’s what we hope for, right?

But what about us - you and me? Have you ever made an excuse for not getting something done or not following through? Of course you have! We all have; it’s part of human nature. We don’t like the idea of carrying responsibility when things go wrong around us. We’re quick to point the finger at something or someone else because the last thing we want is to be responsible for the mess. I call this excusitis,” a condition in which one blames people or things for his or her own mess.

If you and I take a moment to self-reflect, we’ll find that we aren’t as blameless as we may think. How many commitments have you made this year with friends or family that you haven’t completed? How many goals did you set for yourself at the beginning of the year that you’ve slacked on? How many promises did you make to yourself after that last relationship or that last fight that you haven’t fulfilled? Someone recently shared some of the wisest words with me: “Fran, whenever you’re going to make a decision, be honest with yourself.” Wow! Such simple words that carry so much weight!

Being honest with yourself means taking a step back to look at the situation and asking all of the hard questions without selling yourself any lies. We are the best at selling ourselves on bad decisions. No one has to help us with that! Come on, how many times have you sold yourself on a bad idea? You bought a car or an item that you knew you couldn’t afford. You gave a relationship a second chance that you knew wouldn’t end up well. You took on a responsibility that you knew you couldn’t commit to. You started a bad habit that you knew would lead to destruction. And the list goes on!

The key to seeing change in your life is to begin by being honest with yourself. If you aren’t willing to look in the mirror and point the finger back at yourself for decisions you’ve made that have led you to where you currently are, then you’ll continue to perpetuate your cycle of frustration and pity parties. Every time you blame someone or something for a bad decision you’ve made, you are powerless. So, today, I challenge you to take back your power and take ownership of your life! Shake off that “excusitis” and begin to be honest with yourself. What steps can you take to move forward? How will you resolve the issue? What is the right thing to do in this situation? You’ll find that honesty with yourself is the best policy for good decision making and the best remedy for excuses.

*Bojote = a name of endearment my mother gave me.