Boy, do we ever have an arsenal of excuses. Many of which, no surprise here, are some variation of our parents' favorite brands of excuses. We use them to explain, justify, and/or self-impose a limitation as to why we can't do something. It's the reason we can't get a promotion. The reason we can't tell the truth to someone. The reason we no longer let ourselves get excited before a first date.

You know how you can tell when you're making an excuse? Do the money test. Ask yourself this: If I gave you one, two, or five million dollars (whatever number works for you), would you be able to get to work on time, drive slower, rage less, be nice to your spawn at witching hour, find a new job, quit sugar, jump your mate happily (and often), etc.?

Duh. Of course, you could.

Would you? Well that's another question. You see, all of a sudden, given the right incentive (in this case, money), you could change anything in your life. That begets the next question: How come you and your dream aren't worth it?

In any and every area where your results don't match what you say you want, you have to figure out what your favorite brand of excuse is in that area. Once you start to hear your favorite excuses, you can start to see them for what they truly are: dream decay.

I've found that there are about eight basic brands of excuses. See if any sound familiar.

1. The Don't-Care Excuse. You convince yourself that you don't want or need whatever it was anyway, e.g., the new position, it would have been too much work anyway...

2. The Passive Excuse. Life is happening to you. It's beyond your control, e.g., the TV sucks you in, you don't know where the evening went...

3. The Genetic Excuse. You were born this way and can't possibly behave any differently, that's just how your family is, e.g., your father is asocial; your mother is critical.

4. The Victim Excuse. Nothing's your fault, you can't help it, e.g., you have to entertain your clients, they drink, so you have to as well; you were late because you were hanging out with friends, etc.

5. The Everyone Else Excuse. It's okay because everyone else is doing it or not doing it, e.g., none of your other married friends are having sex anymore either, etc.

6. The Past-Precedent Excuse. You've never been able to do it before. You've tried so many times, nothing has worked, why would things change now, e.g., you hate picking up the phone, can't remember birthdays, suck at managing your time, etc.

7. The How-Things-Are Excuse. What you want is not possible for you, e.g., you had a screwed-up childhood, you're not getting over it, you'll never be able to have a good life in that area, etc.

8. The Done-Enough Excuse. No one should ask you for more than you've already done, as if pushing you further might break you, e.g., you've survived twenty-five years of marriage, raised those kids, what else could anyone possibly want from you, etc.

Everyone has their own favorite brand of excuse. In truth, excuses are brilliant. After all, they keep us from having to do something we don't want to do and let us explain why we can't [fill in the blank]. Heck, we have permanent no-fault insurance and, best of all, it's the excuses' fault, not ours. Your happiness, self-esteem, and pride, however, pay the premium.

From Maybe It's You by Lauren Handel Zander. Copyright © 2018 by Lauren Handel Zander. Excerpted with permission by Hachette Books.


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