Excuses are not self-kindness


In my groups I talk a lot about gentleness and self-kindness as we make changes or create new habits. But, excuses are not self-kindness.

We get in our head that we can’t feel badly about ourselves. To prevent that we lie and make excuses instead of telling ourselves the truth. That is not being kind and gentle.

Is it kinder to say to yourself, "I just didn’t have time to work on my project" or "I was feeling nervous about the project and procrastinated instead of working on it today?"

If you use the the blanket time excuse you don’t have to deal with any underlying issues. You most likely won’t change anything the next time. You don’t give yourself the opportunity to talk gently or forgive yourself.

But, if you tell yourself the truth, you can ask what will make you less nervous. You can figure out if there is more preparation or planning you need to do. Then next time you will have one less obstacle.

You could blame other people. "I would’ve gotten it done but my friend called and I couldn’t get off the phone with her for an hour."

Or you could take responsibility, "I chose to talk on the phone with my friend instead of working on my project. Next time I might set a timer to be off in 30 minutes." or "And I would do the same thing next time because talking with my friend is important to me."

You can tell yourself the truth AND be kind to yourself.

If you didn’t do something because you were scared, angry, annoyed, feeling defensive, be honest with yourself so you can work through those feelings.

If you made different choices than would have been prudent, own them. If you didn’t plan well, forgive yourself and plan better tomorrow.

Blaming the weather, other people, lack of time, your age, your ethnicity, your weight or whatever excuse will not make you feel better about yourself because you aren’t moving forward. You are going in a loop of promises, excuses, promises, excuses.

So this evening when you look an unfinished business on your to do list, be honest. Why didn’t that get done? Forgive. Be kind and gentle. Then decide what you will do tomorrow.


  • Gaelle says:

    This is so true of me but I have been so overwhelmed caring for my husband with dementia. I feel I am trying to climb out of a pit into which people are constantly throwing rubbish.
    In response, I am clinging on to all things. Once a tidy organised person I can’t throw a cardboard box away without thinking “I,m sure I’ll find a use for this if I dump it”. So much so I have lost two important things in the last month because my study is so cluttered.

  • Beth Dargis says:

    That is tough, Gaelle. This is when it is so important to remember that your strength and comfort is not from the things you surround yourself with. It is hard what you are going through, so you need to make sure you are nurturing and strengthening yourself so it’s easier when you are thrown other people’s stuff. It’s easy to get sucked into trying to control an un-controllable life by hanging on to stuff. Sending lots of love and compassion to you during this time.

  • K Thompson says:

    All of the “reasons” you listed looked legitimate to me(!) until I saw how you reframed them. Now every time I start to say/think of a “reason” I will be psychoanalyzing myself and trying to reframe it. Guess I thought the excuses Were True! Wish I could go back several years and start weeding out the excuses sooner!

  • Beth Dargis says:

    Yes, they are sneaky. They always sound true till you examine them!

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