We all have really awesome, amazing days where everything goes according to plan. We check off all of the important items on our to do list, we make the phone calls we have been putting off, we remember it is our turn to cook dinner. We all also have those days where everything we touch seems to break, everything we say seems to hurt feelings, everything we do seems to go wrong. We are all human and this is just part of the human experience.
I have met people throughout my life who take personal responsibility only on those days that go well. They accept credit for the success, they proudly smile and nod their heads at the acknowledgment of a job well done. However when it comes to taking responsibility for those bad days where everything goes wrong, they are nowhere to be found. They have excusitis. “It is not my fault”, I’m not the one you are looking for”, “I wasn’t here”, “blame so and so”, “I did my part”. I first came across the term “excusitis” in a book called The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Don’t you think it is a great word?
- I have worked for people with excusitis
- I have had co-workers with excusitis
- I have had people work for me with excusitis
- I have had friends and family with excusitis
- I have had patients in my role as an occupational therapist with excusitis
- Hell I have had excusitis
Dealing with people with excusitis is a tricky business. Do so with caution. This condition tends to be contagious and spreads like the ripples from a pebble thrown into the calm lake. It can bring down a successful team, cripple a thriving business and destroy a loving relationship. I think the worst part about this condition is it causes people to flounder and get stuck. It is hard to grow as an individual when unable to accept responsibility for ones actions.
Excusitis leads people to get stuck. They get stuck in a job, a relationship, a town, a community where they don’t want to be but they are unable to find a way out. They are so busy making excuses and covering their tuckus that they are unable to learn from mistakes, to develop better coping mechanisms . This condition breeds negativity, resentment, despair – ultimately it leads to more excuses.
Every single day we make multiple decisions and choices that either promote or that are detrimental to our overall health, wealth and happiness. Many of these decisions are small, seemingly inconsequential.
For our Health we choose: what to eat, how much to eat, how often to eat, what type of physical activity to engage in, how long to lay on the couch watching NCIS reruns.
For our Wealth we choose: what to buy, how much to buy, whether to use cash or credit, how much debt we will tolerate, how large of a house to buy, whether we will bother to keep up with the Jones’ or join the minimalist movement.
For our Happiness we choose: What to say to others, how to say what needs saying, how we spend our free time, whom to spend our free time with, whether we will listen to our inner pessimist or optimist, whether to engage in negative or positive self talk.
With each of these decisions and choices we have the chance to guide our kayak in the direction of or away from health, wealth and happiness. For most of these small decisions we know which ones will guide us in the right direction and which ones will get us off course. I guess the trick is choosing to do more and more of what is good for us instead of taking the easy way out.
Do you remember the commercial not too long ago with the couple asking each other if they went to the gym? They had great excuses such as “I didn’t have time,” “I just didn’t feel like it”, and my favorite “I didn’t think I needed it”. The cure for excusitis entails accepting personal responsibility for your actions, for your choices, for your future. No excuses!
Burying ones head in the sand is another form of excusitis. If I just pretend there is no problem then I will never have to face the problem. I recently read a book by Joe and Bob Azelby and I wrote down this quote: “Problems don’t go away. They only get bigger when left unattended.” This quote made me think about people who are up to their eyeballs in debt, people who are working at a job they hate, people who are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t value them. If we don’t face our problems, address our fears, discuss our insecurities they only grow in size and proportion. I’m thinking that will just lead to more excuses and a diagnosis of excusitis!