The Problem With Excuses

March 12, 2008 | 22 Comments »

no-excuses1.jpgThe problem with excuses, I have recently gotten really clear about, is that the Universe hears them as instructions.

I learned years ago to stop saying things like, “I can’t afford it” or “I don’t have time” to requests that I just plain didn’t want to do.  Because the last thing I want to manifest is lack of time or money.  

I also learned that if I called in sick, I would sure enough really BE sick by the end of the day, so instead I took “mental health days.”

But I still find excuses creeping in to my responses sometimes, covering up the hard truth of “I just don’t feel like it.”  When my (former) neighbor asked me to a birthday party this weekend, I knew I should say yes.  After all, I want to stay in touch with these folks, I love that they asked me, and I love THEM. 

And yet – I wasn’t interested in a big group gathering.  I wanted to hole up and have a night off to myself.  But that’s not what I said. 

What I said was, “I’ve got an article I’ve got to finish by Sunday night – big deadline approaching fast – I’ve been struggling to write this thing – I better not join you.  Thanks, though, I wish I could!”

The next day someone asked if I wanted to go shopping with them.  I really didn’t.  But instead of saying so, I fell back on my article deadline excuse.  Which was real!  I really did have a deadline – but I talked it up like it was a big priority/problem and that if I wasn’t diligent, it wasn’t going to come together.  

Excuses.

Because I thought that was easier to say then “No thanks” or “I’d rather not.”

And guess what happened? 

My article was extremely difficult to write this month!  I totally missed the deadline!  Not only that, but the piece I wrote is useless!  (Because I didn’t realize Easter is in March this year, not in April.  Since I’m writing for the April issue, and the article was about Easter, it’s useless!)  Not only THAT, but the second piece I gave them for consideration, I ran out of inspiration to write.  (Spring clean your life.)  So I am now officially three days past deadline and on my third article.  (Earth Day’s gonna be my winner.)  I mean, this thing has become a big challenge!  A huge investment of time; a struggle that I am not used to dealing with!

And when I asked myself how this came to be … I realized it came to be through my stupid words. 

“Stupid words.”  That doesn’t sound very nice. 

Let me find a nicer perspective.  It wasn’t stupid.  I was going with what I thought was the path of least resistance.  I know better now.  Next time I’ll just say I’m all out of shopping desire or I’m approaching my party quota for the month.  I don’t know.  But it will definitely not be an excuse that I know Universe takes as an instruction.

Thank you, Universe, for being so amazingly reliable!  You really rock!  I especially love how this third article comes together amazingly well today!  So insightful and witty and easy and extremely well-received! 

Yeah, much better. 

I offer this story, of course, as an example of what not to do when you’re formulating your next excuse.  Do yourself a favor and make sure it’s something you’d like to see manifest. 

(Hey, maybe if we still felt inspired to use an excuse instead of just say “no thanks,” it could be something like, “I’d like to, but my accountant insists we meet to discuss what to do with all this money that’s accumulating!” or “I’m sorry, my masseuse asked me to meet with his other clients to explain how I lost all this weight without exercising or dieting” or “Can’t do it, Bono’s in town and I promised to see him.”  Maybe I should retitle this post “The Power of Excuses.”  hee hee)

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22 Responses to “ The Problem With Excuses ”

  1. Rick says:

    This is a cool topic. In a previous life, I had trouble saying no: I mostly didn’t do the stuff or go some place, but I realied heavy on my Mutant Ability to invent a past and present that made going or doing impossible.

    In looking back, it is amazing realizing that I am now partly that person I created in the that particular process.

    And you keep pointing us back to conscious living. Very cool.

    Thanks

  2. Rick says:

    LOL ….

    I apologise.

    In re-reading my post and seeing how creative I got with spelling and grammar, I must have been having an out of body experience.

    I hope I had a good time.

    😉

  3. Man, you make me laugh! Good job in making the journey out of that past life where you used to rely on a mutant ability to make “going or doing impossible.”

    I’m still in that one myself, apparently, and although I can easily give myself credit for having learned as much as I have, I’m also looking forward to more progress.

    I liked this “no” post from Byron Katie:

    http://www.byronkatie.com/2008/02/how_to_say_no.htm

  4. Amy says:

    I had a good belly laugh over the comment to the comment above! Loved the blog entry! I think the anxiety behind the excuse is a real energy mover, too, it has layers, like: not wanting to hurt feelings, concern about what others might think, the “should” feelings, concern over holding up our end of a friendship/wanting to nurture our friendships.

    A strategy I like when this sort of offer comes up, an offer that I feel unsure about the answer to is, “You know, that sounds interesting. I may just take you up on that, but can I get back to you?” Or, some other version of can I get back to you. The key to this one is to promise yourself that you will get back to them.

    This is one reason that I have really come to love email so much, I can respond when I feel ready and have plenty of time to figure out what to say and how I want to say it. I can reread it to see how it feels, and edit if I want to… or slip off into an out of body experience and then come back to reread! Hee Hee

  5. Michael says:

    I think my particular ‘flavor’ of this was to wear an excuse like a badge of honor. ‘I’d love to do that, but I’ve already got about $2,000 in bills this month’ or ‘that sounds cool, but I’ve got to drive 200 miles to play this gig’…and suddenly, my bills multiply and the gig is lame because I’ve subtly created it as a nuisance.

    I say ‘WAS’ because I started noticing that these things would be out of my mouth before I caught or even heard them, so I really started being responsible for my word.

    ‘You know, I appreciate the invitation, but I’m going to have to pass this month’.

    Simple, smooth, acknowledges the gift someone is trying to give you…and no sabotaging my own life!!! haha

    m|p

  6. Good Vibe Coach says:

    I like your commitment to “no sabotage,” Michael! And that integrity with the word – very powerful!

    I can relate to what you’re saying about your past, even in my present. My ego likes saying “I’ve got a deadline to meet for my editor” … it makes me feel pretty cool. Which I could maybe enjoy if I wasn’t so stressed out over not meeting the deadline!

    I’m with you from here on out – no more sabotage. Thanks for the perspective. I like it!

  7. Email’s the best, isn’t it, Amy?! That extra time to get the vibe right is extremely helpful, I agree!!

    You hit on something important with your insight about the anxiety behind the excuse. If we got to the true source of it, we would relieve ourselves so much more effectively!

    Thanks for pointing that out!

  8. Shama Hyder says:

    The power of excuses! So crafty. You are so going to have no issues with that article…or should I say it will just be the best piece you have written to date.

    Okay-gotta run Jeannette. Google wants to fly me in to talk with their team about marketing. = )

  9. Ha ha – Shama, you’re the BEST!! Now THAT feels fabulous! Way to have fun with your excuses! lol

    PS – they’d be lucky to get you!

    PPS to Ron – I think I deleted your post as I was trying to edit mine! Sorry! Please repost and I promise not to fool with it again! hee hee

  10. Shama, could we have a link, please, next time?? You’re doing great work that many here would love to know about!!

  11. Leslie says:

    I had this wild experience at work yesterday. I have lived in my community for 20 years, it’s a small community which means I know everyone coming to the grocery till. Colleen comes through my till, don’t see her much but our boys went to school together and were baseball stars together.
    I had a dream about you yesterday shes says, I dreamt you were working and you turned to a co-worker and you said I am not going to get mad but you need to stop that right now. And the co-worker said oh okay. She said I loved that and I thought I will have to remember to use that in life. You weren’t aggresive just assertive.
    Sigh I love that people see me operating with such cleanliness and clarity. That I was an inspiration to her in her dream and that she shared that. It felt like a gift.
    I appreciate Amy’s point as well regarding the feelings and concerns about hurting people’s feelings. But we all know that being honest and clear to ourselves first makes it better for everyone. Just stating your truth in the moment is just that. May we all have the courage to do that even in dreams.

    Love Leslie

  12. Leslie, I am still giggling over how brilliant you let yourself be in other people’s dreams! I am SO using that!! “I am not going to get mad, but you need to stop that right now.” ha ha How brilliant is THAT?!

    I can hardly wait for someone to start digging in the yard again!

    Sure do love you, Leslie!!

  13. Nicholas says:

    This is such great stuff! Aside from the great examples, I’m laughing myself silly with all the wit here, from the original article to the many comments!

    I think I’ll go with Michael’s very smooth declination (is that the right word? is that a word in the first place?) when I need to – as I am needing to more often than before!

  14. Kirsten says:

    One of the classic New Thought authors, Florence Scovel Shinn, wrote a book entitled Your Word is Your Wand. That pretty much sums it up!

  15. Michael says:

    Oooo man, I love that title! Got to look that up…

    m|p

  16. Leslie says:

    Wow your word is your wand!
    You aren’t kidding that sums it up.
    It makes you realize we could be doing magic with our communication if we chose to. LOL

    Love Leslie

  17. Joann says:

    EXCUSES: Right on. It’s how to say “no”.
    I’m much better, but this is one I need more practice on. I still get caught. Emails do help ’cause they do give you time to get your thoughts together.

    “I don’t feel like it” is one I use a LOT to myself. Thanks for the reminder. and “I don’t want to” but sometimes that gives me the image of a petulant child jumping up and down. And it’s still the negative “don”t instead of the positive. Now I’m practicing my self-talk and clarifying what I really DO want like: “I feel like doing this instead of that” – especially with my mom. It can be a control issue.

    It’s also what words to use to not hurt another person’s feelings while honoring your own. If it’s something that doesn’t need an immediate response, instead of stammering a lame excuse I have practiced saying: “Let me think about it, or “let me get back to you on that”. And that gives me time to clarify what I do want.

    I have a question about Byron Katie’s “no” post that Rick mentioned. I’ve learned that the word “unable” means physically unable – implying some impairment. And that “can’t” means “unable to” or “won’t”. What do they mean for all of you? I was also taught to use “I prefer” rather than “I can’t” or “I’m unable to”. Yet in the Byron Katie example I don’t think “I prefer” would have done it.

    Language really is a precision instrument. It’s not only the meaning we have when communicating with another, but what the meaning is for the other person.

    GOOD STUFF! Thanks everyone.

  18. Kim Falconer says:

    Jeannette, this is a great topic, and everyone’s comments are insightful. Joann’s right about language. So many words we use are saturated in biases, social, cultural, gender, personal! As TUT says, “Thoughts become things, choose the good ones” and we need to remember that is is language that informs, and translates, our thoughts. How are we wording things? Is it really what we mean?

    The Universe ‘knows’ what the energy or essence of the thought (desire/intension) is but the words we keep saying, to ourselves and others, anchor us in a particular paradigm. They are like magic spells creating our reality.

    Worth thinking about…

    As for excuses, my hero is Phoebe from FRIENDS. In an episode where she’s asked to help out with some task she smiles and says, “Oh I wish I could, but I don’t want to.”

    I love that!

    Thank you again for this important topic, Jeannette. I’m going to stop and think about my response the next time I feel and excuse coming on!

    xKim

  19. Thanks for checking in, Nicholas, and enjoying the wit in these comments! Makes for a good time while we learn, huh? lol

    And Kirsten – that IS a classic! Florence was putting out great material long before there were any Oprahs pushing the deliberate creation agenda to the forefront of minds.

    Leslie, your comment made me realize we already ARE doing magic with our communication. Just not the kind of magic we might prefer, always. ha Yesterday I caught myself thinking “I’ve got to try to get these cats adopted.” And with that, there I was, making it a difficult feat. Magic!!

    Here’s to using our power for good! 🙂

  20. Wow, Joann! Nice distinction in the use of words. I didn’t realize until you pointed it out that the meaning of “unable” feels completely disempowered. I like your habit of saying what you DO want rather than just saying what you don’t.

    My coach Martha Beck freaks out when she hears someone say “can’t.” For good reason, I believe. Because there truly isn’t anything that’s not possible or that we can’t do – so the word becomes more of an excuse than an explanation of a true obstacle.

    Hmm … good food for thought you inspired, Joann! Thanks for posting!

  21. Kim – I’m in love with the thought of our words being “magic spells that create our reality.” There’s no doubt in my mind that’s exactly how it works, I just never thought of it so … mystically. hee hee

    So what spells shall we create today? Here’s one on my agenda: “My foster cats easily find their perfect place.” Which I know is with me right now. Ahh … the perfection of it!

    Thanks for adding some magic to my day, Kim!

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